The Great War

Hugh Samuel King enlisted with the Royal Fusiliers at Hounslow, Middlesex, on 2nd September 1914. He was aged 22 at the time. I know nothing of his adult life prior to this other than he was already in a relationship with his future wife, Alice Lever. As far as I can tell, after initial training, Hugh did two tours in France with a spell as a musketry instructor in between.

Thumbnail from group photo of Hugh Samuel King with Musketry Staff, 32nd T. R. Battallion, 1917

At enlistment his trade is recorded as labourer. He must have had some academic capacity. While with the 15th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, (subsequently the 32nd Training Reserve Battalion), he obtained 2nd & 1st class Certificates of Education in August & November 1915 respectively, also gaining promotions to corporal then sergeant. He qualified as a 1st class Instructor of Musketry in June 1916. Whether for fitness, fun, or moral, some sporting action was had too.

Photograph of Mr. & Mrs. H S King

On 28th August 1915, prompted by his upcoming first overseas posting, Hugh married Alice Lever, in Purfleet Church, Essex. Alice left home at 14 to work 'in service' becoming a cook's assistant and subsequently a cook. The receipt for her sewing machine, in the name of Miss Lever, and an envelope addressed to Mrs. H S King show she was living at her employers address, 42 Castle Bar Road, Ealing, before and after the wedding. The marriage certificate gives her profession as 'domestic'. Their first child, Barbara Alice, was born on 16th July 1917 in Dover. After this mother and daughter were living in Saxon Road Southall, I believe with Alice's parents. Her work as a servant had finished.

Extract from Soldiers' Small Book of 1915

An insight into contemporary army thinking comes from the Soldiers' Small Book of 1915. This record of personal information and service history also contains handy hints for soldiers ranging from the deadly serious, through army etiquette, to the mundane. Enjoy the guidelines on cooking and cleaning. The advice for soldiers returning to civvy street is sobering indeed.

British War Medal Riband

Ultimately, Hugh returned to the front in France. I don't know what action resulted in him being wounded in March 1918. Word of mouth family history is that his fate was unknown until he was reported as a Prisoner of War by some agency. Somewhere along the line he was stepped down to corporal, his rank at the time of demobilization and transfer to reserve. A letter containing British War Medal Riband is the last document of his army service.

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The Levers

Alice Lever