2nd Lieutenant Harry Anderton Squier, 8th Bedfordshire Regiment.

Today’s post is about another local soldier who featured in the recent World War One exhibition and sadly did not survive the war. Research was carried out by Kath Shawcross, Borough Archivist.

2nd Lieutenant Harry Anderton Squier. 8th (Service) Bedfordshire Regiment (originally 1/8th Service Battalion Royal Fusiliers). Lived at Cumbrae Grove Road, Cheam.

Squier Lieut 9 May 1916 34123

Harry Squier photographed by David Knights-Whittome in 1916 – this photograph would have been taken just weeks before he was killed in action.

Harry Squier was born 16 December 1895 in New Cross, Deptford, the son of Harry and Frances Squier. His father was a merchant’s clerk. By 1901 the family had moved to Egmont Road, Sutton and by 1911 they were living at Cumbrae Grove Road, Cheam.

Harry enlisted as a private in the 1/8th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, at Westminster on the 3 September 1914, aged 19. He applied for a commission which was approved 22 February 1915 when he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 10th Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment.  After officer training he was attached to the 8th Battalion of the Bedfordshires and embarked for France on the 23 March 1916. He arrived on the front lines on the 28 March and sadly was killed just three weeks later.

Although initially posted as missing and thought to have been captured by the Germans, his body was found a few days later and buried in the Essex Farm Cemetery, Boezinghe, Ypres. His death is recorded as the 19th April and is commemorated on the Cheam War Memorial.

2nd Lieutenant Alan M Fleming wrote to Harry’s father on the 29 April 1916:

squier7 copy letter recovered body

Image courtesy of The National Archives. Open Government Licence v2.0. TNA ref: WO339/35931

Dear Sir,

     I am extremely grieved to have to inform you that the body of your son 2nd Lt Squier, has been recovered from our front line trenches.

     We had every hope that he had been taken prisoner, (more especially as the Germans claimed an Officer prisoner) but last night the Brigade wired us that his body had been recovered: his pockets had evidently been rifled, as there was absolutely nothing left in them except the enclosed two papers.

     He is being buried in the Brigade Cemetery, at a place called Essex Farm, on the banks of the Yser Canal, about half way between Ypres and Boesinghe. A cross is being put up in his memory tonight.

     Mr Martin, who wrote to you before has gone home on leave, so I undertook to write to you for him.

     We are all very grieved at the sad news here I sympathise with you very deeply.

Yours Truly

A letter from Private Tucker dated 3 May 1916 describes briefly the battle at which Harry Squier was thought to have been taken prisoner by the Germans:

squier4 description of the battle

Image courtesy of The National Archives. Open Government Licence v2.0. TNA ref: WO339/35931

Squier medal card

Harry Squier’s medal card. Image courtesy of The National Archives. Open Government Licence v2.0. Source: Ancestry.

Sadly, our collection is filled with the images of young men like Harry Squier who died tragically young in the Great War. For many of these individuals, we have so little information to go on that it is proving almost impossible to identify or connect them to this area.  We have however had some great responses and even been offered additional information about individuals who have featured on the blog so far.  The hope it that by publishing all the images that we scan to our Flickr site that we might stand some chance of uncovering a few more of these real lives that have been hidden inside dusty envelopes for the last 100 years.  If you had relatives living in Sutton, Epsom or the surrounding areas during the period 1906-1917, then do take a look, or get in touch.  Knights-Whittome was prolific in his portraiture work and new images are being added to Flickr all the time.  We may well have images of your family members among the collection.

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