CWG: Corporal Edwin Herbert

Corporal Edwin Herbert

Edwin Herbert was born in 1864, the third of three children to Moses and Melina Herbert of Hove in East Sussex. Moses worked in the cement industry as a labourer, a job that had taken him from his home in Kent to Sussex, and which, by the 1871 census, would return him to his home county.

Edwin married Amelia Charlotte Titus in 1885 and the couple’s first child – a daughter, Nelly – was born a year later.

By the 1891 census, Edwin was also labouring in the North Kent cement industry, something he continued to do for at least the next twenty years, as confirmed in the following two censuses.

The Herberts’ second child, Amelia, was born in 1901, the year after Edwin’s mother passed away. The family were, by then, living in Cuxton, just to the south of Rochester. The cement industry was one of the large employers in the Medway valley, and it is not surprising that the family lived in and around that area for so long.

In 1910, Edwin’s father also died, at the age of 69. After the death of Melina, Moses had moved in with his daughter – Edwin’s older sister – in Rochester, and the family were also still labouring in the cement and brickmaking industry.

Edwin’s military records are sketchy. Piecing the evidence together, he enlisted in the Royal Army Service Corps.

It is likely that he did so on a voluntary basis. The cement industry was not protected by exemption. Kitchener’s initial conscription in March 1916 excluded married men. When this was extended in May 1916, there was still a maximum age limit of 41 (Edwin was 52 year old by this point).

By whichever means he had enlisted, Edwin served as a Corporal (there is nothing to confirm whether he was promoted from Private, or if he went straight into service at that rank). He was discharged on 30th July 1918, and it is likely that this was on a medical basis.

Corporal Herbert’s pension documents record that he passed away on 30th October 1918, as a result of carcinoma of the liver and exhaustion. He was 54 years old.

Edwin Herbert lies at peace in the quiet churchyard of St Helen’s in Cliffe, Kent.

The majority of the the Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones in the UK are made from Portland stone, although, in face, over 50 different natural stones have been used.

Corporal Cornell’s headstone is one of two in St Helen’s Churchyard that have been fashioned from dark grey slate.

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