Every day on the British Army Ancestors Facebook page I take time to commemorate a British soldier. This post will look at three of the men I have remembered recently. From left to right, Archie Slaughter, Walter Holmes (and pals) and Germain Merheim. All of this week’s portraits were taken in one of David Knights-Whittome’s studios in Epsom or Sutton.
I am as confident as I can be that this man – ‘boy’ is probably more accurate – is Archie Leonard Slaughter. The metadata for this photograph is minimal, only the surname, SLAUGHTER, being recorded. However, the cap badge identifies this chap as a member of the 5th London Regiment and as the surname is uncommon, I think I’ve found the right man.
There were three (unrelated, as far as I know) men of this name who served with the 5th London Regiment during the First World War. They were 305091 Rfm Archie Leonard Slaughter, 2043 Rfm Herbert Nathaniel Slaughter, and 258, later 305326 Rfm George Frederick Thomas Slaughter.
Archie, born in 1899, appears on the 1911 Census in Croydon, his place of birth noted as Sutton. George could be one of several candidates but is most likely to be the man of this name born in St Pancras in 1880 and living in Kensington. Herbert Slaughter was from Bristol and was still living there in 1911. He would be killed in action on the Somme on the 1st July 1916.
This photograph was probably taken in David Knights-Whittome’s Sutton studio, probably in 1916 or 1917, making the subject of this photo about 17 or 18 at the time. He looks youthful enough to be Archie, and I note that there are several records for this man on findmypast including school register entries from 1905 and 1908. Archie survived the carnage of the First World war and died in 1973.
PS/5066 Pte Walter Roy Holmes of the 20th (Public Schools) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers is seated right, along with two as yet unidentified colleagues, Pte Scott and Pte Turner. The men sat for this photo on the 5th January 1915. Walter would go on to serve with a battalion of the Training Reserve and would end the war as a second lieutenant with the Wiltshire Regiment.
According to the 1911 Census of England & Wales, Germain Adolphus Merheim was born in France of a German mother and an Italian father. He was a 19-year-old science student living at home with his parents and 18-year-old sister, Bertha (also French-born) in Carshalton when the census was taken.
Germain enlisted with the Royal Fusiliers on the 16th September 1914 and was posted to the 18th (Public Schools) Battalion. His regimental number was PS/667. This portrait of him was taken on the 18th January 1915, and four months later on the 15th May 1915 he transferred to the Royal Engineers as a pioneer with the Special [Gas] Companies. He was immediately promoted to coporal on the same day; his science studies presumably finding immediate practical use as the British Army sought to come up with its own response to the German gas attacks which had been launched the previous month.
Germain was posted to No 2 Battalion, Special Brigade in January 1916 and by the end of the war, having been promoted several times, he was a company quarter master sergeant. He was discharged in January 1919 and returned to civilian life. He died in 1970 at the age of 78.