Montague Ashley Palmer was born in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, in 1886, one of five children to Alfred and Martha. Montague’s father was a postman in the town for 25 years, retiring through ill health in February 1898. Sadly, Alfred’s retirement was not to last long, and he passed away that July aged 48, when his son was just 12 years old.
When he left school, Montague found work as a bus conductor and was now the oldest of Martha’s children to still be living at home. He was obviously an ambitious and inventive young man; by the time of the 1911 census, he had started work for the Ordnance Survey, and had moved to Didcot in Berkshire where he was boarding with Frances Battison, a suiter and greengrocer.
At this point, details of Montague’s life become a little hazier. At some point, he married a woman called Matilda, who either came from, or would go on to live in, Helston, Cornwall.
With war on the horizon, Montague enlisted – documented dates for this, again, are missing. He joined the 12th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry, which initially served in Egypt, before transferring to France in May 1918.
Where and for how long Private Palmer served is not clear, although he was definitely caught up in the fighting, and injured, towards the end of the war. Details of his wounds are not clear, but they were enough for him to be repatriated to England, and he was admitted to the Royal Hospital in Salford.
Private Palmer’s injuries appear to have been too severe for him to survive; he passed away in hospital on 5th January 1919. He was just 32 years old.
Montague Ashley Palmer’s body was brought back to Somerset, and he was laid to rest in the Milton Cemetery in Weston-super-Mare.