2nd Lieutenant Dudley Leycester Summerhays

Date of Birth c. 1889
Age at Death 26
Date of Death 21 April 1915
Service Number
Military Service Queen Victoria Rifles London Regiment
Merton Address Woodgate House, Cambridge Road, Wimbledon
Local Memorial Christ Church, Wimbledon

Additional Information

Born in 1889, Dudley was the youngest son of Thomas and Marian Summerhays. The couple also had six other children – Edith, Ethel, Hilda, Ida, Reginald and Gladys. In 1891 Thomas Summerhays was a Solicitor and a man of sufficient means to afford at least three servants at the family home, 2 Trinity Road, Wimbledon.

By 1901 the family had moved to 8 Sunnyside, Wimbledon Village and Dudley’s brother, Reginald, was employed as a Solicitors’ Articled Clerk. Ten years passed and the Summerhays moved again to Woodgate House, Cambridge Road, Wimbledon.

Dudley attended Rokeby, an independent prep school in Wimbledon. He was later educated at Westminster, where he became a skilled marksman, representing his school at the National Rifle Association championships at Bisley. On leaving school he served his articles and prepared for work as a Solicitor. An amateur actor, Dudley also did charity work promoting concerts and theatrical entertainment. He was well known and popular in the district, serving as Honorary Secretary of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association.

With the outbreak of war, Dudley joined the army, initially as a Private with the local battalion of the East Surrey Regiment. He later received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the London Regiment of the Queen Victoria Rifles and headed to the front on 4 November 1914, after landing at Le Havre. Testimonies from his army comrades describe him as having a friendly manner, always ready to help bandage the wounded and cheer the other men on. The men affectionately called him ‘Little Summerhays’.

On 21 April 1915 Dudley was leading an attack on ‘Hill 60’ near Ypres. He had been handed command by his Captain, who had been wounded whilst attempting to relieve men defending a crater. Dudley was struck on the head by a bomb and killed instantly – he was just 26 years old.

His memorial service at Christ Church, Copse Hill was attended by over 100 Officers and men from his battalion, plus many former comrades from the East Surrey Regiment. Several Masters from his former school and staff from his family’s law firm also came to pay their respects.

Dudley is buried at 1st DCLI Cemetery, Belgium. He is also commemorated locally at Christ Church in West Wimbledon.

Records show that following Dudley’s death, his father had enquired about the whereabouts of his son’s belongings. A letter of reply can be seen in his associated images.


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