Lieutenant Eric Robert Mead Odling

Date of Birth c. 1894
Age at Death 21
Date of Death 25 March 1915
Service Number
Military Service Royal Engineers
Merton Address Craignoon, Ridgway Gardens
Local Memorial Wimbledon Parish Church

Additional Information

Eric Robert Meade Odling was born in India c.1894. He was the only son of Charles Odling and his Dublin born wife, Alice Meade. The couple also had an older daughter, Winifrede. Until 1902, Charles was the highly respected Chief Engineer of the Indian Public Works Department, with responsibility for a wide range of railway and irrigation projects across the subcontinent.

By 1901 the family had returned to England and were living at Victoria Terrace in Frimley, Surrey, together with Minnie Ayah, an Indian woman employed both as the children’s nurse and a domestic servant. Eric became a student at the Grange School in Folkestone, from where he got a scholarship to Cheltenham College in 1907.

By 1911 the Odling family had moved to Craignoon, Ridgway Gardens, a sizeable property in Wimbledon Village, where they were supported by a staff of 3 domestic servants. Having completed his studies at Cambridge that year, Eric became a cadet at the prestigious Sandhurst Royal Military Academy. He joined the joined the Royal Engineers on 20th December 1912. Initially a second lieutenant, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 12th November 1914.

After just a few months on the Western Front, Eric was killed in action on 25 March 1915. He was just 21 years of age. According to reports from the Worcestershire Regiment, Lieutenant Odling was killed at Festubert in the Artois region of France, whilst working on the front line. There was fierce fighting in this area for much of 1915 as British and French forces sought to break the German line through a combination of heavy bombardment and infantry advances. Eric was just one of 16,648 British casualties sustained in the Festubert area during the first six months of 1915. He is buried in the Gorre British and Indian Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France and is also commemorated in a panel on the south wall of Wimbledon Parish Church.


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