Richard Edwin Prout was born in 1896, the second son of Frederick and Anna (Hannah) Prout. When his father died in 1908, his mother remarried and by the 1911 census, Richard and his family had moved to Lydeard St Lawrence, where he was a baker’s boy.
He enlisted in June 1914, joining the Somerset Light Infantry and served throughout the war, receiving the Mons Star, Victory Medal and General Service Medals.
After the war, he continued in the army, and was assigned to Taunton Barracks.
His passing was unusual enough for it to be reported on in the local newspaper.
Sergt. Prout, it was stated at the Barracks yesterday, had been on leave for some days prior to his departure for Ireland, and had been spending his furlough at Crowcombe, where his parents live. On the evening of his death, he left home, after taking a hearty meal, to catch the 7.25 train to Taunton. He had to walk a mile to Crowcombe station, most of the way uphill. Early the following morning his dead body was discovered lying face downwards by the roadside, about 50 yards from the station. The body was removed to his home, and Dr. Frossard, of Bishop’s Lydeard, was called in to make a post-mortem examination. The doctor has reported that death was due to asphyxia brought on by over exertion on a full stomach, and syncope, following pressure on the neck by the tightness of the collar of his outside jacket, the doctor adding that he had great difficulty in unfastening the collar.Western Daily Press – Friday 20th February 1920
A genuine case of someone going before their time. Having visited Lydeard St Lawrence, I recognise the hill he would have had to have climbed to reach the station, and it’s steep enough in a car, let alone walking up it.
Sergeant Prout, the newspaper reported, was generally esteemed by his fellow company, and at his funeral he received full military honours.
Richard Edwin Prout lies peacefully in the churchyard of Lydeard St Lawrence.