Henry James Hounsell was born in the spring of 1891, one of ten children to George and Emma Hounsell. George was a farm labourer ad carter, and the family were raised in Tatworth, on the outskirts of Chard, Somerset.
Henry may have followed his father in farm work, but he wanted bigger and better things from life. The 1911 census recorded him as boarding with the Burt family in Corscombe, Dorset, where he was working as a baker’s van man.
Henry’s two older brothers, George and Alfred, died in 1913 and 1914 respectively; this left him as the oldest male of the siblings. In the summer of 1915, he married Lydia Lentell, the daughter of a shirt starcher and collar maker from East Coker, Somerset.
By this point, however, war was raging across Europe, and Henry was called upon to play his part. Full details of his service are lost to time, but it is clear that he enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry as a Private in the 4th (Reserve) Battalion. By the time he joined up – at some point after August 1916 – his troop had already been sent out to Mesopotamia; it is unclear whether Henry also went overseas, but it appears unlikely.
The only other documents relating to Private Hounsell are those concerning his passing. His pension record confirms that he died on 3rd February 1917, having been suffering from a tumour in the back of his head, which had been aggravated by his military service. He was just 25 years old.
Henry James Hounsell was brought back to Somerset for burial. He was laid to rest in Tatworth Cemetery in Chard.
Lydia and Henry had had no children; she remained a widow for a number of years, before marrying for a second time in the autumn of 1939. Tragically, this was also destined to be a short-lived marriage – her new husband, Frederic Hodge, died just three years later.