Henry Charles Gudgeon
Name: Henry Charles Gudgeon
15th April 1886 - 1st July 1916
Place of Birth: Eaton Socon
Division: 4th Battalion
Regiment: Middlesex Regiment
Buried: III. Q. 4, Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle, Somme France
Person(s) placing the cross on behalf of the Arlesey Remembers You Project: Sandra & Jamie Sarll
Henry was born in Armley, Yorkshire in 1887, the son of Charles Gudgeon, a Railway Porter and his wife, Sarah. He had two older sisters, Eleanor (born in Silsoe in 1884) and Alice (born in Silsoe in 1885), as well as a younger brother, Arthur who was born in St Neots in 1890.
At the time of the 1891 census the family were living in Prospect Row, St Neots. By the 1901 census, the family had grown to include 3 more sisters for Henry: Eveline born in 1893, Nellie born in 1895 and Edith born in 1897, along with a brother, George, born in 1897. The family were living in Bath Place, Clifton. Father Charles was still employed as a Railway Porter and Henry was working as a Ploughman. At one time Henry was a chorister at All Saints Church in Clifton.
On the 19th July 1905, at the age of 19, Henry was enlisted into the Middlesex Regiment. His service records tell us he was employed as a Horse Keeper, was 5 feet 6 inches tall, with a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and red hair. Henry served with the Army for a number of years in India and at the outbreak of the war went with his regiment to France. During the winter of 1914/15 he was wounded by shrapnel at Loos, and his feet were frost bitten – he spent several months recovering in England. After leaving hospital he spent some time at his depot doing light duties, and then acted as recruiting sergeant in the suburbs of London.
He married Hannah Rose Jackson in Bethnal Green on New Years Day 1916. Almost immediately he was ordered back to the front, and was attached to an entrenching party before rejoining his old unit as part of the 21st Division. Henry was part of “B” company of the 4th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment.
On July 1st 1916, the 21st Division attacked Fricourt on the Somme front. A and B companies of the 4th Middlesex were beaten back within 5 minutes of the start of the assault and forced to retreat. After regrouping, they attacked again and managed to gain some ground, but with only 40 men reaching the first objective. The remaining two companies were also decimated trying to push further into German lines. By 3rd July the 4th Middlesex had suffered 540 casualties and was pulled from the line again.
Mr & Mrs Gudgeon received the following letter from the Infantry Records Office: “It is my painful duty to inform you that a report has this day been received from the War Office notifying the death of Sergeant Gudgeon H.C Regt, 4th Brigade, Middlesex, which occurred at (not stated) on the 1st or 2nd day of July 1916, and I am to express to you the sympathy and regret of the Army Council at your loss. The cause of death was killed in action”.
Henry is remembered with honour at Gordon Dump Cemetery, Ovillers-La Boisselle. The cemetery is located on the Somme, France, about 2km northeast of Albert.
The birth registers for the 3rd quarter of 1916 list the birth of a Hannah R M Gudgeon, born in Mile End. Her mother’s maiden name was Jackson. The names and dates suggest this may well have been the only child of Henry, born several months after his death on the Somme.
Despite living in London, Henry is commemorated on the Arlesey war memorial because his parents had moved from Clifton to Church End in Arlesey sometime between the 1901 and 1911 census.