Week 22 of #52Ancestors already, and this week’s theme is Conflict. Time to reflect on the research I have carried out so far on one of my two WW1 forebears and the records I have gathered that give a snap shot of his life. Henry James Baldwin, the eldest son of my great x2 grandparents William James Baldwin and Jane Elizabeth Turner.
Henry was born on 30 September 1885 in 4a Bristowe Street, Hoxton New Town. This was the home of his maternal grandparents James Turner and Emma Traies. James Turner had recently died on 12 September 1885. James and Emma had lived at 4a Bristowe Street since at least 1871.
Henry enlisted at Stratford in 1903 for the regular army. His attestation papers tells us that he was residing at 40 Dock Street, his father’s address and was single. He was 18 years and 9 months old and was Clerk for a Messrs Goldsmith Myers. He was to serve in the Royal Artillery Regiment as a gunner. He was 5ft 7 ¾ inches tall, had grey eyes and brown hair and a number of tattoos. His parents were both still alive and his brother Frederick Charles was at Devonport on HMS Lion. His two younger brothers, Bertie and Reuben were still at home with their parents. No mention of Sydney, Alfred or Victoria though. At the time of the 1911 census he was stationed at Honeybutton Island, Hong Kong with the 87th Company Royal Garrison Artillery. He was a 22 year old Gunner and still single.
On 17 September 1914 at the age of 29 he joined the 4th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery in France. The Siege Batteries were deployed behind the front line, tasked with destroying enemy artillery, supply routes, railways and stores. The Batteries were equipped with heavy Howitzer guns firing large calibre 6, 8 or 9.2 inch shells in a high trajectory.
He was killed in action on 16 June 1915 nearly 30 years old, and is buried at Ypres Reservoir North British Cemetery, Ypres, France. From the CWCG website I have gathered a number of papers about Henry that tell me he was buried at Ypres Reservoir Graveyard, his body was exhumed and buried in a CWCG graveyard presumably meaning he was originally buried where he fell during battle.
I have a copy of his will found in pay book after death which states he left all his personal belongings to his mother Jane Baldwin who was living in Peckham. I also have a copy of his personal effects which states that 21s and 9d were sent to his mother, Jane as the sole legate plus another 5s again to Jane Baldwin. Sadly it is not stated where he died and that is where my research will take me next, I want to find out a bit more about the role he would have played and the role the 4th Siege Battery would have played in the war and presumably one of the battles in Ypres. It would be great to find a regimental diary which might give an idea of where they were during June 1915 and what they were involved in as a regiment.