Private, 3rd Reserve Cavalry Regiment
Service no. 7211
Died on 26 December 1916, aged 37, after discharge
Chris Burge writes:
Herbert Thomas Head was born in 1879 to parents William and Sarah. He was baptised Herbert Thomas William Head, at St Stephen’s, Villa Street, Walworth Common, Southwark, on 21 August 1879. His father William was a hackney carriage driver.
On 7 October 1897, at the age of 19, Herbert joined the 3rd Dragoon Guards. He was described as 5ft 6in tall, 115lbs with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and dark brown hair. He served in the South African War before being discharged on 1 September 1902 as medically unfit. After returning to ‘civvie street’, Herbert found work as a coachman and married widow Caroline Applegate (née Pettit) on 30 July 1905 at St Jude’s in Brixton. The couple lived at 269 Shakespeare Road, opposite the extensive Herne Hill railway sidings. Caroline was originally from Norfolk.
Herbert and Caroline’s first child William Herbert George was born on 24 April 1906 and baptised at St Jude’s on 17 June. Herbert was now described as a carman and the couple had moved close to 69 Saltoun Road, a turning off Atlantic Road in the centre of Brixton.
The 1911 census shows that Herbert, Caroline and William had moved to the ground floor of 91 Hargywne Street, Stockwell, where they rented three unfurnished rooms on the ground floor of 91 Hargywne Street from Sarah Neighbour, a widowed domestic cook, who lived at the same address. Herbert was now earning a living as an ‘acetylene generator’.
At the outbreak of war, Herbert left the family home to volunteer, enlisting in Lambeth on 31 August 1914. Three days later Herbert Head was in Canterbury, as a private in the 3rd Reserve Cavalry. He was now 37 years old. Outwardly his physical appearance was little changed but he was no longer fit and was discharged on 6 June 1915. The Dragoon records show he was issued with a silver war badge by October 1916.
Herbert and Caroline’s second child, Lilian Winifred Head, was born on 16 September 1916 and baptised on 1 November at St Andrew’s, Stockwell Green. The family were still living at Hargywne Street. Herbert’s health deteriorated and he died on Boxing Day 1916, leaving his widow and children with no means of support.
At the end of the war Caroline received a £3 war gratuity, but the war pension ledgers imply that Herbert’s married sister Elsie May Gazzard had become the guardian of William and Lilian. Caroline married Walter Hill in 1921 and they lived in Santley Street in Clapham until 1925.
Caroline died in Wandsworth in 1964, aged 87. William was living in Cato Road, Clapham when he passed away on 6 September 1979, aged 73.