25 February 2013

Pte 18374 Samuel Herbert Legerton

Samuel Herbert Legerton was born on 22nd September 1884, along with a twin brother, Walter Edward, in Salcott-cum-Virley, Essex. Sadly, Walter died in January 1907, aged 22 and lies buried with his parents in the cemetery at Tolleshunt d'Arcy.

Samuel was 5ft 5in and had fair hair. He had left UK for Boston, USA, on 23rd September 1903 onboard a ship called The Mayflower when he was a 19 year old clerk. At some point he returned to the UK and by the end of 1914 he was 29 years old and living with his wife Amy at his sister Lizzie's newsagents on Barking Road which he ran on her behalf.  As an illustration of the changing character of the local area, the old shop is now a small mosque.

When War broke out Samuel, like so many along the Barking Road, volunteered at East Ham Town Hall on 25th February 1915 and became Pte 18374 in The West Ham Battalion.

Undergoing basic training on Wanstead Flats all the way through to Salisbury Plain for Advanced Infantry Training and traveling over on the Princess Victoria, Samuel absorbed all the life changing experiences of the Hammers up until the end of their Somme Summer in November 1916.

At some point during or after their last major assault while on The Somme at the Quadrilateral (Beaumont Hamel) he contracted 'trench fever' - spread by the body lice that every man was plagued with - and was shipped back to Blighty....

It was after his recovery in England that he was transferred to the Labour Corps and in that way moved to an agricultural unit near Warley for the rest of the War. After a happy life, Samuel died on 31st May, 1938

images courtesy of Jackie Duckworth, Samuels grandaughter