CWG: Sapper Ronald Blackwell

Sapper Ronald Blackwell

Ronald James Ewart Blackwell was born in London in February 1890, one of eight children to Frederick and Elizabeth Blackwell. Frederick was a tailor from Devon, while Elizabeth had been born in Somerset. By the time of the 1911 census, they had moved back to Somerset, settling in the village of Dunster.

Ronald followed in his father’s footsteps and, by the time war broke out, was living and working in Taunton. It’s clear that he wanted to play his part in the growing conflict, enlisting in the Royal Engineers in January 1915.

Sapper Blackwell’s service records confirm that he stood 5ft 6.5ins (1.69m) tall; they also note that he had the tattoo of a heart on his left forearm. His skill as a tailor is mentioned numerous times, and it appears that this talent was how his time was put to use. He was shipped to France on 25th January 1915, and, by the end of the conflict, he was in Italy. It was from here that he returned to England on 26th January 1919.

It seems that Ronald’s return to the UK was as a result of him becoming ill, as, within a month of coming home, he was medically discharged form the army, having been suffering from tuberculosis.

Ronald returned to Somerset, but was to be dogged by the lung disease for a further year more. He passed away at home on 25th June 1920, aged just 30 years old.

Ronald James Ewart Blackwell was laid to rest in Dunster Cemetery, not far from his parents’ then home.

Ronald’s older brother, Harold Frederick Blackwell, also fought in the First World War. He was a Private in the 2nd Battalion of the Essex Regiment. He was killed during the Allied advance into Flanders in August 1918, and was laid to rest in the Terlincthun British Cemetery in Northern France.

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