Reuben Victor Stanley Hadlow was born in the spring of 1898. He was one of thirteen children to John Charles Tarpe Hadlow and his wife Gertrude, publicans at the Star pub in Whitstable, Kent.
When war broke out, Reuben was working as a blacksmith; he enlisted in the army in the summer of 1914, serving on the home front.
In February 1916 Private Hadlow transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as a Air Mechanic 2nd Class, and was assigned to the 65 Training Squadron in Croydon. He was promoted to Air Mechanic 1st Class six months later.
When the RFC became the Royal Air Force, Air Mechanic Hadlow moved across to the new institution. He moved to support 156 Squadron in November 1918, then the 35 Training Depot Station shortly after.
Air Mechanic Hadlow contracted phthisis (tuberculosis) towards the end of that year, which led to his being discharged from the RAF on 22nd January 1919.
Reuben’s health did not recover after returning home – his parents were running the King’s Arms pub in Boxley near Maidstone by this point. He passed away on 17th September 1919, aged twenty-one.
He lies at rest in the churchyard of St Mary and All Saints, in his parent’s village.
Poignantly, his gravestone is not a traditional war grave. Instead it states that he died “after a painful illness and serving his country 4 1/2 years”.