Samuel James Hayes was born in the Somerset village of Milverton in May 1879. He was the eldest son of James and Harriet.
James was an agricultural labourer, but Samuel wanted more than this; he enlisted in the Royal Marine Artillery in February 1897, three months before his 18th birthday.
The 1901 census finds Gunner Hayes in the Eastney Barracks in Portsmouth, while ten years later, he was on board the HMS Swiftsure in the Mediterranean.
In May 1912, he married Annie Thorne, also from Milverton, in his home village. Two years later, just before Christmas 1914, their first – and only – child, Lionel, was born.
I have struggles to find anything specific relating to Gunner Hayes’ wartime service. He certainly continued to serve, and by the time of his death had clocked up more than twenty years’ service in the Royal Marine Artillery.
Samuel passed away on 6th July 1919, at the age of 38. One record I have located suggests that he died in a military hospital in Malta, but whether he passed there or in the UK, he was buried back in Somerset.
Gunner Samuel James Hayes lies at rest in St Michael & All Angel’s churchyard in Milverton.