Sunday, 11 November 2012

Lest We Forget - Private Edward Fitzhenry of the Worcestershire Regiment

Private Edward Fitzhenry 10285 of the 4th Battalion of the Worcester Regiment died 28 April 1915 at Gallipoli and is commemorated at the Helles Memorial, Turkey

Edward was the second child born to Edward Miles Fitzhenry and Maud Mary Dallaway in 1889 in the Aston area of Birmingham. He had an older sister Maud Matilda, and a younger brother William Dallaway. 

Edward Miles died in early 1891, around the time his youngest son was born, and Maud found herself as a 24 year old widow with three children under four years old to support. The family initially moved in with Maud's mother and her extended family in Old Cross Street, Birmingham [1891 census], but in 1893 Maud married again to Frederick Robson, a carter for the City corporation and they had two more children Ethel and Frank. In the 1901 census, the whole family was living back in Aston.

Unfortunately Edward's military records have been lost, but we do know that at some time between 1905 and 1911 Edward joined the British Army, as in 1911, the census showed that he was stationed with his regiment, the 4th Worcestershire in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, India. [Wikipedia] The census return states he was aged 22, single and born in Birmingham Warwickshire. 
Back home, his siblings were still living all together in a house in Kings Norton, Worcester, along with a Dallaway cousin and all the men were in the bicycle manufacturing trade.

I'm indebted to the excellent website of the Worcestershire Regiment for the story of what happened next. Click here for a fuller account.
The 4th Worcestershire regiment transferred to Burma in 1912, and in early 1915 was summoned back to England to regroup for the battles now taking place in France. The regiment billeted at Leamington Spa, so it was very likely that Edward was able to see his family again after several years. Along with several other regiments, the 4th Worcestershire became part of the 29th Division which was sent out to support the operations in progress in the Dardanelles.
"Thousands of the civil population turned out to see the troops off and "a whole army of relations from Birmingham" came down to Leamington to bid the 4th Battalion Worcestershire farewell. In three trains (9.0 p.m., March 21st. 1.0 a.m. and 4.30 a.m., March 22nd) the Worcestershire companies left Leamington..."
Perhaps Edward's brothers and sisters were in the crowds.
The 29th Division was transported by sea via Malta and Alexandra to the Aegean Islands where they learned that their enterprise was to land on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

The Gallipoli Campaign took place between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916 by which time it had degenerated into trench warfare. Many hundreds of Allied soldiers were killed landing on the beaches in the first day.

On the 28th April, the third day of the campaign, the 4th Worcestershires were part of the advance inland on the slopes of Achi Baba in the driving rain. Edward was killed in this offensive. He was 26 years old. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. A moving contemporary account of the campaign written by Private Ben Ward can also be found on the Worcestershire Regiment's website.

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