CWG: Colour Sergeant Henry Baber

Sergeant Henry Baber

Henry Matthew Baber was born in the spring of 1859, the second of six children to Henry and Jane Baber. Henry Sr was a cordwainer – or shoemaker – and the family lived in Bristol. Or, at least, most of them did. The 1871 and 1881 censuses show Henry Sr and Jane happily living with their children, but Henry Jr is noticeable in his absence.

In August 1887, Henry married Sarah Jane Hardwidge in the village of Paulton, near Bath. His younger brother Alfred and two of his sisters, Annie and Ellen, all bear witness to the wedding, at which Henry gives his profession as coachman.

The newlyweds settle down in Weston-super-Mare, and go on to have two children, Henry and Kathleen. Sadly, the couple’s happiness was to be cut short, when, in 1891, Kathleen passed away, followed just two years later by Sarah, at the age of just 32 years old.

With a young boy to bring up, Henry sought a new companion and, just over a year after Sarah’s death, he married Alma Quantick, who was fourteen years Henry’s junior. Together, they went on to have six children and, by the time of the 1901 census, the family were living in the Somerset village of Yatton. Henry, by this time, was working as an insurance agent for Prudential, a profession that was to last him through to the start of the First World War.

From the early 1890s, Henry had enlisted in the local Yeomanry. While only a reserve force, he had a short spell in Egypt, fighting at Tel-el-Kibir in 1882. Harry worked his way up through the ranks, eventually attaining the role of Colour Sergeant. He was brought out of reserve status on 4th August 1914, at the age of 55, and was assigned to the 4th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry.

There is little else to confirm his military career during the Great War; he was discharged in November 1914, but there is nothing to confirm whether he had seen active service during those four months or not.

Colour Sergeant Baber’s passing is also shrouded in mystery. He died on 12th April 1915, but the cause of his death is lost to time. He was 56 years old when he died.

Henry Matthew Baber lies at rest in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Yatton, Somerset.

Henry and Alma’s eldest son William Albert Baber is also interred in the family grave and, within eighteen months, Alma had lost both her husband and her eldest son. William was 19 years old when war broke out, and his story can be found here.

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