Private Henry Charles Gray

Date of Birth c. 1896
Age at Death 20
Date of Death 28 June 1916
Service Number 17319
Military Service 8th Battalion East Surrey Regiment
Merton Address 45 Amity Grove, Raynes Park
Local Memorial Wimbledon Parish Church

Additional Information

Born in Wimbledon c. 1896, Henry was baptised at the parish church of St. Mary’s. He was the son of labourer Frederick Gray and his wife, Lydia Gray. The couple had fourteen children in total, five died in infancy but nine survived into adulthood. Henry was the middle child – his older siblings included Frederick, James, Lydia and Ellen; the younger members of the family were George, Annie, Maud and Florence.

The family lived in a five room house at 45 Amity Grove, Raynes Park. Henry appears to have been known best by his middle name, Charles, as this is how he is listed on all the local census returns.

During the war, Henry enlisted as a private in the 8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment. Formed at Kingston upon Thames in September 1914, the battalion underwent home–based training at Purfleet, Colchester, and Salisbury Plain, before embarking for France in July 1915. Henry and his comrades would have fought at the Battle of Loos (25 September – 14 October.) This was the largest British offensive of 1915 and involved a combined British and French assault on German defences in Artois and Champagne. The battle notoriously involved the first British use of poison gas as a weapon of war. Unfortunately, the changing wind direction meant that much of the chlorine vapour actually drifted back over British lines, with disastrous effect.

Henry was killed in action on 28 June 1916, during fighting in the Somme region. He was buried at Carnoys Military Cemetery, south-east of Albert, France. He is also commemorated locally with a monumental inscription at Wimbledon Parish Church.


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