Tag Archives: Colour Sergeant

CWG: Colour Sergeant John Paulin

Colour Sergeant John Paulin

John Duncan Paulin was born in January 1885 in Liverpool, the youngest of two children. His parents – John Robert (known by his middle name) and Jane Paulin – were born in Scotland, but seemed to have moved to the Lancashire port by the late 1870s.

When he left school, John – who became known as Jack – found work as a clerk, but a life of adventure – and a more reliable career – beckoned. On 14th August 1904, he enlisted in the Border Regiment as a Private for a period of seven years. During that time, he served in barracks across the country – from Carlisle to Plymouth – and, by the time he was put on reserve in 1911, he had reached the rank of Corporal.

When war was declared, those servicemen on reserve were called back into action, and Jack found himself reposted with an increased rank of Sergeant. Over the next few years, he remained based in England and seemed to take on more of a training role, transferring to the Middlesex Regiment and, by the end of 1917, attaining the rank of Colour Sergeant.

At some point Jack met Ethel May Smith, who lived in Frome, Somerset. She was the same age as Jack, and was the daughter of the foreman of one of the cloth manufacturers in the town – she also went on to work in the factory. The couple married in St John’s Church in the town on 1st June 1916, but did not go on to have any children.

Colour Sergeant Paulin’s military career was free of any medical issues or hospital admissions until February 1919. He had not been demobbed by this point, even though the war was over. However, as with many other servicemen at the time, Jack fell ill with influenza, and was admitted to Grove Military Hospital (now St George’s Hospital) in Tooting, South London. Pneumonia set in, and Jack passed away on 12th February 1919, at the age of 34 years old.

Jack Duncan Paulin’s body was brought back to Somerset, and he was laid to rest in the graveyard of Christ Church, Frome. Ethel lived on until 1978; she was laid to rest with her husband.


CWG: Colour Sergeant Henry Baber

Sergeant Henry Baber

Henry Matthew Baber was born in the spring of 1859, the second of six children to Henry and Jane Baber. Henry Sr was a cordwainer – or shoemaker – and the family lived in Bristol. Or, at least, most of them did. The 1871 and 1881 censuses show Henry Sr and Jane happily living with their children, but Henry Jr is noticeable in his absence.

In August 1887, Henry married Sarah Jane Hardwidge in the village of Paulton, near Bath. His younger brother Alfred and two of his sisters, Annie and Ellen, all bear witness to the wedding, at which Henry gives his profession as coachman.

The newlyweds settle down in Weston-super-Mare, and go on to have two children, Henry and Kathleen. Sadly, the couple’s happiness was to be cut short, when, in 1891, Kathleen passed away, followed just two years later by Sarah, at the age of just 32 years old.

With a young boy to bring up, Henry sought a new companion and, just over a year after Sarah’s death, he married Alma Quantick, who was fourteen years Henry’s junior. Together, they went on to have six children and, by the time of the 1901 census, the family were living in the Somerset village of Yatton. Henry, by this time, was working as an insurance agent for Prudential, a profession that was to last him through to the start of the First World War.

From the early 1890s, Henry had enlisted in the local Yeomanry. While only a reserve force, he had a short spell in Egypt, fighting at Tel-el-Kibir in 1882. Harry worked his way up through the ranks, eventually attaining the role of Colour Sergeant. He was brought out of reserve status on 4th August 1914, at the age of 55, and was assigned to the 4th Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry.

There is little else to confirm his military career during the Great War; he was discharged in November 1914, but there is nothing to confirm whether he had seen active service during those four months or not.

Colour Sergeant Baber’s passing is also shrouded in mystery. He died on 12th April 1915, but the cause of his death is lost to time. He was 56 years old when he died.

Henry Matthew Baber lies at rest in the graveyard of St Mary’s Church in Yatton, Somerset.


Henry and Alma’s eldest son William Albert Baber is also interred in the family grave and, within eighteen months, Alma had lost both her husband and her eldest son. William was 19 years old when war broke out, and his story can be found here.