Private, 24th (County of London) Bn (The Queen’s)
Service no. Regiment 720356
Died on 15 February 1920, aged 23, after discharge
Chris Burge writes:
Geoffrey Dee was born on 26 November 1896 in Woolwich, southeast London, the first child of John Edwin and Emma Churchill (née Loftin) Dee, who had married earlier in the year. Geoffrey was baptised with the given names Geoffrey William John on 10 September 1897 at St Bride’s, Fleet Street on the same day as three of Emma’s younger siblings, when his parents’ address was 120 Ivydale Road, Nunhead, southeast London and his father worked as a licensed victualler (publican). Geoffrey’s younger brother Philip was born on 15 September 1898 and baptised Philip Walter Loftin Dee on 30 October 1898 at St Martin’s, Dorking, in Surrey, during the period his father was running the Red Lion Hotel.
Geoffrey’s father died in 1899, and the following year his mother, then living in the Walworth Road, near Elephant and Castle, married George Edward Holton at St Bride’s. Holton, a police constable, was based at the nearby Bridewell Place Station. At the time of the 1901 census George, Emma, Geoffrey and Philip were living at 6 Clock Passage (also known as Clock Place), off Hampton Road and close to Newington Butts, a densely populated area in the parish of St Mary Newington, Southwark. The property was home to three families totalling 11 people.
George and Emma’s first child Dorothy Ellen was born on 19 June 1901 and baptised at St Mary Newington on 25 August.
Ten years later, Geoffrey and family were living in Stockwell, at 13 Portland Place North, near Clapham Road in Stockwell. Geoffrey’s stepfather was had risen to the rank of serjeant in the City of London Police and he had listed their children in age order on the census form: Geoffrey Dee Holton, 14; Philip Dee Holton, 12; Dorothy Holton, nine; Stanley Holton, seven; Kathleen Holton, five; John Holton, two. Emma’s younger brother Walter Robinson Loftin, a 34-year-old stereotyper from Kent, boarded with the family. A total of nine people occupied the property’s seven rooms.
In May 1911 life changed abruptly for the Holton family when Emma died. Forty-year-old George Holton was married for a second time on 3 December 1912, to 23-year-old Constance Muriel Chapman at St Stephen’s Church, South Lambeth.By 1915, there would be three more additions to the Holton family.
Geoffrey Dee was working as a stereotyper at Spottiswoode & Co., Shoe Lane, in the City when war was declared. In the excited rush to volunteer many employees of the print firm joined the City of London Rifles at their Farringdon Road drill hall, but Geoffrey Dee made a different choice. On 6 August 1914 he went to the drill hall at New Street (now Braganza Street), Kennington on 6 August 1914, determined to join the 24th County of London Battalion (The Queen’s).
He added a year to his age, claiming to be 18 years and 11 months. At 5ft 9in in height with a 33in chest, no questions were asked and he was passed fit. Within days, Private 1894 Dee was in the St Albans area with the 24th Londons. The battalion was sent to France early in 1915, landing at Le Havre on 16 March, the beginning of Geoffrey Dee’s three years on the Western Front. He was wounded in the right leg around 15 June 1915 and treated at 4th Stationary Hospital at St Omer.
Geoffrey was an infantry observer and survived all of the 24th London’s actions until seriously wounded on 16 July 1918, again in the right leg. He was evacuated to the UK where he underwent an above-knee amputation. After the amputation, a medical board at the military hospital Denmark Hill judged his general health as ‘good’. When Geoffrey completed a statement of his own case, he said that he had been treated at Weir Hospital in Grove Road, Balham, which housed a section of Third London (T.F.) General Hospital. A final review was made at Charterhouse Military Hospital, Charterhouse Square, London, a specialist hospital for limbless men, on 8 March 1919. Geoffrey Dee was discharged six days later and awarded a pension of £2 7s 6d for 13 weeks and then 16s 6d for life. It was noted that his figure (frame) on discharge was ‘slight’ and he faced ‘uncertain’prospects of employment. Geoffrey’s address throughput this period was the Holton family home now at 262 Clapham Road.
Geoffrey died in Torquay, Devon, in 1920 of an infection in his right leg. He is not listed in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database. The military authorities may not have regarded him as a war casualty, but the Stockwell War Memorial committee thought otherwise.
Geoffrey’s younger brother Philip, also an electrotyper, was conscripted into the Army after 1916 and served in the Royal Fusiliers. Philip returned to Lambeth and in August 1924 sailed for Brisbane, Australia, seeking a new life. He died in 1991.
George Edward Holton, Geoffrey and Philip’s stepfather, was living in Streatham Vale when he passed away in 1930.
Geoffrey is not listed in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database as his death came after the cut-off date for inclusion. His story serves as a good example of the wider remit adopted by the Stockwell War Memorial Committee