Harry Austin was born in the small Kent village of Bobbing in 1890. One of nine children to Richard and Emma Austin, his father was the village blacksmith, a trade two of his brothers followed after leaving school. Harry, however, became a general labourer in the coal industry.
Sadly, most of Harry’s wartime service is lost to time; we know that he enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery and served as a driver. The RFA was responsible for the medium-calibre guns and howitzers deployed close to the front line; Harry’s role, therefore, was likely to have involved driving the horses to and from the sites where the guns were needed.
Again, Driver Austin’s military records are somewhat lacking when it comes to his passing. However, where they mark him as ‘dead from disease’, a contemporary newspaper in memoriam gives a little more detail.
In ever loving memory of Driver Harry Austin, RFA… who passed away November 10th 1918, in the 1st Southern General Hospital, Birmingham, from influenza following Gun Shot wounds, aged 29 years.East Kent Gazette – Saturday 23rd November 1918.
An untimely death for Harry, but particularly poignant, given that he passed the day before the Armistice was signed.
Driver Harry Austin lies at peace in the graveyard of St Bartholomew’s Church in his home village of Bobbing, Kent.