Private, Royal Sussex Regiment, 11th Bn.
Service no. 36921
Died on 8 May 1919, aged about 39
Remembered at Murmansk New British Cemetery, Russia
Chris Burge writes:
Henry Langford was born in 1879 in the village of Midgham, Berkshire, the second child of Jemima Hannah Hunt and master brewer Alfred Langford, who had married four years earlier. Henry’s sister Emma was born in 1877. Alfred died in the winter of 1881 and Jemima married Charles Goodman the following year.
By 1891, Emma was 14 and in service, while schoolboy Henry was living with his parents and stepsiblings in Three Chimneys Lane, Thatcham. By the time of the 1902 census, aged 22, he was a serving soldier.
Henry joined the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment Militia on 3 December 1895, aged 17, when he was described as 5ft 2in tall, 103lbs, with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. He served in the militia until 3 February 1897, transferring to a regular battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. He served in both Boer Wars and Egypt for two years and was decorated before extending his home service from 1905 to 1909.
Shortly after leaving the Army, Henry moved to London. In 1910, he married Louisa Elizabeth Eyles in Lambeth. In the 1911 census, they were living in two rooms at 83 Jeffreys Road, off Clapham Road. Louisa was expecting their first child and Henry worked as a cook. The property was shared by two other families, with 11 other people occupying the eight remaining rooms. Phyllis Louisa Langford was born on 3 November 1911.
Henry Langford appears to have been conscripted late in 1917 or early 1918. Records show that he enlisted in Battersea but not how he came to be in the 11th Sussex. The battalion he joined had returned from France to England in June 1918 after suffering heavy losses during the enemy’s spring offensive. After many compulsory transfers to the battalion, the 11th Sussex departed from Leith, sailing to north Russia on 19 September to support the White Russian forces against the Bolshevik Red Army in the Russian Civil War. We can speculate that Henry may have experienced the novelty of skiing lessons during the winter months, before the weather permitted them to move to Murmansk in March 1919. On 8 May it was reported that ‘36921 L. Cpl H. Langford had died from burns at Murmansk’. No details of his accidental death were given. Henry was buried in the English sector of the Russian cemetery at Murmansk on 10 May 1919.
Henry’s widow Louisa started a new life when she married William Henry Hunt on Christmas Day 1920 at St Jude’s, Kensal Green in north London. William was Henry’s second cousin, and the marriage was witnessed by Henry’s sister Emma Hider. Tragedy struck in the 1940 Blitz when a high explosive bomb dropped near Louisa and William’s home in Marmion Road, Battersea. Louisa died in the Bolingbroke Hospital on 12 September 1940. Henry’s married daughter Phyllis Turner passed away in Wandsworth in 1985, aged 73.