Osbourne Ethelbert Winch was born in Kent in 1888, one of three sons to Ernest and Ann Winch. Being the eldest, he inherited his unusual combination of names from his grandfathers – Osbourne on his mother’s side and Ethelbert on his father’s.
Osbourne had moved out of the family home by the time of the 1911 census, and, when war broke out, was quick to enlist. His records show that he was a tall man – standing at 5ft 10ins (1.78m) and he was declared fit for territorial service.
Private Winch joined the 45th Provisional Battalion, before moving to the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles (also known as the Buffs) in 1916. Soon to be posted to the Front Line, Osbourne married Elsie Taylor in March that year, and he was posted in April.
Along with the move to the Buffs, Private Winch received promotions, first to Lance Corporal and then to Corporal. He again transferred to the Base Depot at Etaples in December 1916 and, for some reason, he reverted to being Private. His records confirm this was “under Para 12.VV.W.L.9/Geb No 5080 (AGI)”, although I have not been able to established what this means. There is no mention of disciplinary behaviour in his records, so whether this was because of the transfer to the depot, I cannot say.
Either way, he was transferred to the Front again on 13th December 1916, and remained on the Cavalry rate of pay.
Private Winch remained at the Front for a number of months. On 19th April 1917, possibly while involved in the Nivelle Offensive, he received gunshot wounds to the head and right hip. He was moved to a hospital in Béthune in northern France, where his hip was operated on.
Osbourne was transferred back to the UK on the Hospital Ship Cambria for medical treatment. His medical report from the UK hospital makes for grim reading:
Private states that he lay out for 2 days before being brought in. Gun shot wound head and right hip 19.4.17. Op on hip at Béthune – bad cough on admissions and moist sound in chest. Large septic wound over right hip exposing iliac crest and much comminution of ilium [breakage of the hip bone]. Acute pneumonia developed and patient grew steadily worse.Medical Report: E Hamilton-Browne, Military Hospital, Endell Street, London WC
Private Osbourne Winch died at 4pm on 30th April 1917. He was 28 years old. He lies at peace in the graveyard of St Bartholomew’s Church in his home village of Bobbing in Kent.