Corporal Francis Harold Chamberlain

Date of Birth c. 1882
Age at Death 33
Date of Death 6 October 1915
Service Number 3047
Military Service 1st County Of London Yeomanry (Middlesex, Duke Of Cambridge's Hussars)
Merton Address 69 Prince George Avenue , Raynes Park
Local Memorial St. Saviour’s Church, Raynes Park

Additional Information

Born in Kensington, Francis was baptised at St Andrews Church on 22 October 1882, while his family were living at 72 Tavistock Crescent, Kensington. Francis was the second son of Emily and Charles who was an Estate Agent and Surveyor. In 1891 the family lived at 39 Waldemar Avenue, Fulham, and included brothers William and Arthur and sisters Mabel, Lillian, Rosetta and Florence. The family was prosperous enough to employ a servant, Lucy Davies.

By 1901, the family had moved to a substantial seven roomed house at 3 Cleveland Road, Barnes. The family had grown to include Ernest and Louis. The 1911 census for the family revealed that Emily and Charles had eleven children in all, and that sadly two of them had died. The other members of the household were their servant Lucy, and a boarder John Quirk (a Solicitor’s Clerk). Francis was now aged eighteen and was also employed as a Solicitors Clerk, so perhaps they were colleagues.

On 25 September 1909 at St John’s Church, Putney, Francis married his childhood sweetheart Florence Mary Durham. We can assume this, as the 1891 Census shows that Florence and her family were living at 33 Waldemar Avenue, Fulham, just a few doors away from Francis’s family at No. 39 when he was aged eight and Florence was aged four. They must have kept in touch through the years. By 1911, the couple had settled at 69 Prince George’s Avenue, Raynes Park and now had a young son, Francis John, who was aged 6 months. Francis’s occupation was described as a Law Clerk. According to a Baptism record, the couple had a second son, Austen Charles who was born on 13 October 1911.

Francis enlisted in Chelsea (possibly in 1912) with the 1st County Of London Yeomanry (Middlesex, Duke of Cambridge's Hussars) a mounted Cavalry Brigade. In August 1915 their regiment had moved from Egypt to Gallipoli, where conditions were harsh. The terrain and close fighting made it impossible for the dead to be buried, and flies flourished in the heat which caused epidemic sickness. Winter storms caused hardship and a blizzard and the following thaw caused casualties of 15,000 men. Of the 213,000 British casualties, 145,000 of these were due to sickness such as dysentery, diarrhoea and fever.

After just one month in Gallipoli, Francis caught dysentery and was admitted to a military hospital ship on 20 September 1915. The ship was the HMAT Assaye (His Majesty’s Australian Transport), which travelled 850 miles across the Mediterranean to Malta. At a safe distance from the front line, Malta became a hospital island for more than 136,000 men. By the end of the war it had earned itself the nickname the "Nurse of the Mediterranean". After making the week long journey, Francis unfortunately did not recover, and died on the ship on Wednesday, 6 October 1915. After a disastrous campaign, the British Government started the evacuation from Gallipoli in December, and the last troops left Helles, on 9 January 1916.

Florence was entitled to £16.13.3 from his pay, including the War Gratuity of £5.10. Probate records show that Francis also left the amount of £453.9s which would be worth approximately £45,000 today. Francis is buried at the Pieta Military Cemetery in Malta - the Headstone inscription reads “TILL THE DAY BREAK”. Francis is also commemorated at St Saviours Parish Church, Raynes Park.


* Required field