CWG: Bandsman Hubert Campbell

Bandsman Hubert Campbell

Hubert Stephen Buck was born on 18th October 1887, in Stepney, East London. His father, Edgar Buck, started to use his grandmother’s maiden name – Campbell – from the 1880s, and, by 1901, the family had formally changed their name.

At the time of his marriage to Hubert’s mother Alexandra Stephen in 1885, Edgar was working as a ostrich feather manufacturer. The couple went on to have six children, all boys, of which Hubert was the second oldest.

By the time of the 1901 census, Edgar and Alexandra has moved the family south of the river, from Mile End to Lambeth. By now, Hubert’s father was working as a musician, but there is little further information about his trade.

The next census – from 1911 – found the family living in Lewisham. Edgar was now listed as a band leader, while Hubert, who was the oldest child still living at home, gave his profession as musician, presumably in his father’s band.

War was imminent and, while Hubert was definitely involved, there is little specific information about his military service. He enlisted in the Irish Guards, and was assigned the role of Bandsman.

In August 1917, Hubert married Alice Johnson in Sutton, Surrey. He listed his profession as Musician in HM Irish Guards, so must have enlisted before that point. Interestingly, the same document identifies Edgar’s profession as Bandmaster in the 1st City of London Regiment, so it seems he also enlisted.

The marriage certificate shows Alice was two years older then her new husband, and that she was the daughter of warehouseman Alfred Johnson, who had, by that point, passed away.

And that is where the trail of Bandsman Campbell goes cold. He survived the war, but there is no indication as to whether he served abroad, or was part of a territorial force. He and Alice moved to Worthing in West Sussex, but there is no confirmation on when the move took place. There is also little information about his passing, other than the fact that he died on 4th August 1921, at the age of 35.

Hubert Stephen Campbell was laid to rest in the Broadwater Cemetery in Worthing.


While Hubert’s trail went cold, there is further information on Alice. An advert in the Worthing Gazette offers musical training by her:

Musical Training on Modern Methods

Pianoforte (Matthay), Voice Production, Singing, Theory, Harmony, Aural Culture, Musical Appreciation, and Art of Teaching.

Thorough preparation for all Examinations, Elementary to Diploma Grades, Special Courses for Teachers for the study of the Matthay system and the Art of Teaching.

MADAME ALICE CAMPBELL (Member of the Musical Councils of the London and East London Musical Festivals. Registered Teacher: Teachers’ Registration Council.

Worthing Gazette: Wednesday 31st August 1921

Digging a little deeper, and there are similar advertisements in the newspaper from late 1917, through to at least the 1930s, by which time, Alice was running the Worthing School of Music.

The advert suggests a couple of points. It certainly suggests that a love of music is what brought Hubert and Alice together in the first place. There was a definite musical connection in the household, initially driven by Hubert’s father, and continued with his widow.

Given that the advert above is dated a matter of weeks after Hubert’s death, it also seems likely that his passing was not unexpected. There is nothing in the local media relating to his death, and, with regular students to teach, Alice obviously felt is unnecessary to take any significant time away from her work in grief. It is supposition on my part, but it would suggest that Hubert died from a chronic condition, possibly one of the lung diseases that were rife across Europe in the aftermath of the Great War.

The last advert for the Worthing School of Music ran on 12th September 1934. Beyond that date – when Alice would have been 49 – there is no further clear record of her or the school.


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