Friday, 17 September 2021

Grave of Henley soldier rediscovered

A MAN leading a campaign to honour fallen serviceman from the Henley area has discovered the grave of one soldier after 10 years of searching

A MAN leading a campaign to honour fallen serviceman from the Henley area has discovered the grave of one soldier after 10 years of searching.

Mike Willoughby, who runs the Lest We Forget project, located the last resting place of Harry Spring, from Upper Assendon, in France.

Mr Willoughby, an amateur historian from Woodcote, first found the name of ?H Spring? on the Henley Grammar School First World War memorial board, which is now located at The Henley College, in 2005.

He said: ?According to the Periam, the Henley Grammar School magazine, in 1925 Harry Spring had died while serving with the Canadian contingent during the First World War.

?Despite numerous searches through the admission register of the grammar school and the Canadian archives, I could find no trace of Harry. Then, three months ago, I found a Henry Thomas Spring who had died on October 12, 1916 while serving in the 2nd Regiment South African Infantry.

?On further investigation I found that he was born in Upper Assendon in 1878 and that his father Thomas ran a nursery and seed suppliers located close to the grammar school, in Northfield End, in the 1890s.

?The family then moved to Hornsey, Middlesex, and it was while perusing the 1901 census I found Harry.

?Beside his entry in very small writing it said, ?Baden Powell Police leaving for South Africa in the next few days?. This was the breakthrough I had been looking for.

?From this I was able to trace that he had gone to South Africa in 1901 and served with the Baden Powell Police, which eventually became the South African Constabulary. At the outbreak of the First World War Harry enlisted in the South African Infantry and initially went to Alexandria with the 2nd Infantry Regiment before being sent to France.

?He was killed in action on October 12, 1916 during the Battle of Transloy, aged 38. He was buried in the Warlencourt British cemetery, near Le Sars.

?During our recent war graves visit, my wife Lesley and I were extremely pleased to be able to pay our respects at long last.?

Over the past four years Mr Willoughby has traced about 90 soldiers from the Henley area whose names are not on any of the town?s memorials.

Two new remembrance plaques listing all the town?s 298 casualties have been installed at the town hall and Holy Trinity Church and a third will be unveiled later this year.

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