6th (Service) Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment).

Born Monday 29 July 1878   Died Thursday 12 April 1917. Aged 38.

Second son of Francis Edward Major of Rushfield, Bonnington, Hythe, and of the late Elizabeth Alicia Major (née Banks) of Rushfield, Bonnington, Hythe.

Commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery, Boulevard du General de Gaulle, Arras, Pas de Calais, France. Bay 2, and in The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) Great War Roll of Honour at the regimental war memorial in the parish church of Holy Trinity, High Street, Guildford, Surrey, also on the Folkestone, Kent civic war memorial and on the Harvey Grammar School, Folkestone Great War memorial plaque.

Henry was born at 5, Rendezvous Street, Folkestone, Kent on Monday 29 July 1878, and was baptised at the parish church of Christ Church, Folkestone, Kent on Sunday 15 September 1878.

Henry came from a family of well know Folkestone Butchers; his father Frances Edward Major was a Master Butcher, who, at the time of the 1901 census, was recorded as being employed as an Assistant Butcher, and a Boarder at 68 Foord Road, Folkestone, Kent. Head of the house was 46 year old Folkestone native William Wright Hartley who was employed as a Inventory Clerk.

It has not been possible for the compiler of these brief commemorations, to ascertain what year it was that the Major family had moved from Folkestone to live at Rushfield, Bonnington which is where Henrys’ parents were living at the time of the 1911 census.

Unfortunately, as is the case with the majority of the Aldington, Bonnington & Hurst Great War British army casualties, Henrys’ service papers appear to have been destroyed during the Second World War, and his medal records do not show from what date he had served on the Western Front with the British Expeditionary Force.

We do know that he is numbered among the 10 deaths suffered by the 6th (Service) Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) on Thursday 12 April 1917, of whom half have no know grave and are commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

On the day before Henry was killed, his battalion was in the Arras Glasgow Trench, where at 1600 hours orders were received for it to move forward in artillery formation to the Brown Line near Monchy-le-Preux. Whilst waiting on the Brown Line the battalion came under heavy artillery fire and suffered a few casualties. The battalion then proceeded to Monchy-le-Preux, where it took over part of the line held by the 10th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) and the 11th Service) Battalion, Kings Royal Rifle Corps. Relief was completed by 0200 hours, by which time 13 other ranks were killed, 26 wounded and 7 posted as missing.

On Thursday 12 April 1917 the Newfoundland Regiment relieved “A” & “D” Companies of the 6th (Service) Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) at Monchy-le-Preux at 2100 hours, both of which then proceeded to I Trench & Support Line in the old British Line. Battalion Headquarters remained in Monchy-le-Preux. The War Diary entry for his battalion on the day that Henry lost his life, records that the battalion was intermittently shelled by enemy artillery throughout the day. Because he was not serving as a officer at the time of his death, Henry is not named in a War Diary entry, but it is reasonably likely that he died as the result of the shelling which resulted in him having no known grave.

Also commemorated on the Folkestone, Kent civic war memorial, is Henrys’ brother-in-law, John Alfred Waddell who was serving as Private, 40529 in the 7th (Service) Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment when he died on Wednesday 12 August 1917. Born, enlisted and residing in Folkestone, Kent, John was the son of James Waddell and Mary Sarah Ann Waddell (née Ford), and husband of Maude Gertrude Waddell (née Major) of Folkestone, Kent. Formerly Private, 29044, Essex Regiment, John is at rest at Brandhoek New Military Cemetery, Brandhoek, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Grave Ref: V. E. 14.