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CWG: Serjeant-Trumpeter Alexander de Vere

Serjeant-Trumpeter Alexander de Vere

Alexander Johnstone de Vere was born on 10th August 1889 in Murree, India (now Pakistan). He was one of five children to Norfolk-born Alexander Johnstone (also known as John Ralph de Vere), and his wife Dorothea who had been born in Sangor, India. Alexander Sr was a Sergeant Major in the 12th Lancers, and the family returned to England not long after his son was born, settling first in Aldershot, then in Sandhurst.

Alexander’s youngest sibling, George, was born in Cairo, Egypt, so the family was on the move again. Sadly, Alexander Sr died in a nursing home in the city just two years later and, after returning to England, Dorothea passed away in a Holborn infirmary just two years later.

Documents for the de Vere children – Ellen, Alexander, Dorothea, William and George – are few and far between. The 1911 census places Dorothea boarding with a family in Kingston-upon-Thames, where she was employed as a dress maker. The same document records William as a Bandsman in the 1st Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders, based at Chanpatia, in Northern India. George, meanwhile, was a schoolboy at the Duke of York’s Royal Military School on the outskirts of Dover. Of the two eldest siblings, however, there is no record.

In the autumn of 1912, Alexander married Emily Louise Collins. Born in Norfolk in 1884, she was working as a servant in a house in Surrey when she and Alexander met. The couple married in Faversham, Kent, and settle down there, their daughter, Dora, being born in the town in January 1915.

Given his family’s military background, it is not unsurprising that Alexander enlisted in the army almost as soon as war was declared. He may have already seen military service, as he enlisted in the 11th Hussars as a Lance Corporal. By 15th August 1914, Alexander was in France.

Lance Corporal de Vere was quickly caught up in the fighting. He saw action at Mons and Nery in 1914, and at Ypres the following year. By this point, he had been promoted to the rank of Sergeant Trumpeter, reflecting the musical connection he shared with his younger brother, William.

Alexander remained in France until January 1916, when he was invalided home. He was admitted to Dorchester County Hospital in Dorset, suffering from a cerebral abscess. Despite treatment, he succumbed to the condition, passing away on 17th March 1916, at the age of just 26 years old.

Alexander Johnstone de Vere was brought back to Kent for burial. He was laid to rest in Faversham Borough Cemetery.