Pioneer Henry Charles Fairweather

Date of Birth 6 March 1896
Age at Death 19
Date of Death 9 August 1915
Service Number 62301
Military Service 13th Div. Signal. Corp, Royal Engineers
Merton Address 71 Mitcham Road, Tooting
Local Memorial Mitcham War Memorial

Additional Information

Henry was born in Battersea on 6 March 1896. Sadly, his father William Thompson Fairweather, a tailor by trade, had died at an early age, before Henry was born. The 1901 census records that his mother Caroline, now a widow, was staying with her sister–in-law at 6 Mitcham Road, Tooting. Caroline and her children, William 10, Alexander 8, and Henry aged 5 were described as “Visitors”. It appears that Caroline had other children, Annie aged 14, Emmy 16, and Charles aged 7, but they did not appear on the Census. All the older children were baptised together in 1894, before Henry was born. Henry was baptised in September 1902 at St Andrews Church, Battersea.

Caroline (also known as Carry) remarried in 1904 to Harold Thompson, a House Decorator. In 1911 they were living at 14 Moffat Road, Tooting. By this time, Annie was living with the family, and Henry now had two half-sisters, Stella 6 and Louise 5. Henry now aged 15, was employed as an Apprentice Railway Clerk.

Early in the War, in January 1915, while the family were living at 71 Mitcham Road, Henry enlisted at Kingston. He joined the Royal Engineers as a Pioneer with the 13th Signal Corp. He was over 5 ft 5 in height, weight 134 lbs, with fair physical development.

His occupation was recorded as a Telegraphist. A reference from his employers, London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Co, stated that he was employed as a clerk at Mitcham Station from Jan 1912, to May 1914 when he resigned. His conduct was deemed as quite satisfactory.

The rank of Pioneer was introduced in the Royal Engineers in 1913 owing to a shortage of tradesmen. During World War 1, the Pioneers in the Royal Engineers maintained the telephones, wireless and other signalling equipment. Presumably because of his previous employment as a Telegraphist, Henry was considered suitable for recruitment as a Pioneer.

On 14 June 1915, the Signalling company sailed for the Mediterranean. They eventually arrived in Mudros, Greece on 9 July 1915. Mudros was made available by the Greek Government for use by the Allies, fighting in Turkey. The signallers were engaged in setting up lines of communications, laying cables and installing equipment. On 16 July 1915, the 13th Division left on the HMS Whitby Abbey bound for Cape Helles, where they began work on improving the communications network. They returned to Mudros at the end of July where they stayed until 4 August 1915, when they left for Anzac Cove, Gallipoli.

The Signalling company would have been involved in the Battles of Sari Blair, and Russell’s Top while setting up lines of communication. The War Diary entry for 8 August, states that the cable communication to the 38th Brigade was interrupted by an attack, and that there was general confusion. It is possible that Henry was wounded in the attack, as he died on the following day.

Henry has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey, and on the Mitcham War Memorial.


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