Henry Westbury Sargent (1895–1916)

Second Lieutenant

Royal Fusiliers
19th Res Battalion
Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiments)   1st Battalion

Photo courtesy Hugh Bailey (with thanks to Donald Bailey)

Harry Sargent in WW1

In the first half of June 1916 a draft of 53 'other ranks' arrived from base to join the Foresters; along with five young officers – Second Lieutenants F W Burt; S P Bacon; H G B Hopkins; H W Sargent and H P Rogers. 
Henry was killed in his first battle just a couple of weeks after joining the battalion.  On 30 June 1916 he was assigned to ‘A’ Company. The Battalion orders were to take over the captured line in La Boisselle and make a bombing attack with one company the following morning to clean up a small section of the enemy’s position.  On arriving the CO found that no continuous captured line existed. Basically total chaos with no guides to help them and being expected to carry out a large scale attack with no proper preparation.  When the CO arrived at the forward positions he found no front line and chaotic elements of five different units.  The leading companies of the battalion did not reach the jumping off point until day break. They took up position in a support line near the church at La Boisselle.  Trenches and dugouts were full of troops from 57th Brigade but slowly these were withdrawn to relieve the crowded trenches. The CO decided to send men in from three different starting points with the remainder of the battalion in reserve. The right column advanced in touch with the battalion on it s right, the left was held by a strong enemy earthworks. The centre moved forward but was checked by a twelve foot high earthworks. Several costly attempts were made to overcome it but in the end the column gave ground as its flanks had become exposed. The CO threw in the reserves (including himself) but after close quarters fighting only seven of the HQ detachment out of 57 Other Ranks remained. The CO was saved by Sgt Raynes who caught a enemy hand grenade and threw it clear of the trench.  Fighting continued at close quarters but eventually at 7.00pm, all companies except ‘D’ had been driven back. This company had to be recalled at 9.00pm. At 2.00am on three 6th the battalion was relieved and returned to billets.  The battalion did everything within its power but later it was found that a regiment of the Prussian Guards Division had been brought forward to counter attack and recapture La Boisselle.  The battalion may not have advanced the line but it had stopped the enemy recapturing La Boisselle.  The casualties though were heavy. The casualties for the month in which most happened in the first week –  nine officers and 51 other ranks killed or having died of wounds. Nine officers and 257 other ranks wounded and six men missing. 
[Thanks to Steve Morse]  

Medal Roll Index Card
He was awarded the Victory and British War Medals.
Died 05/07/16 [this was incorrect]
Entered France May 1916

Service Record
Henry was born 31 March 1895, his parents were Henry Crunden Sargent and Amy Sophia Westbury, Brook Cottage Fritchley
He enlisted at Derby 18 Dec 1914 into the Royal Fusiliers, a Clerk to Railway Engineers, height 5ft 5 in, weight 126lb living at Fritchley. He was educated at Derby School. On 18 May 1915 aged 19 years 260 days he was discharged to Commission, with the Special Reserve of Officers (Infantry) Sherwood Foresters. He died of wounds on 6th July 1916, although elsewhere in his records it states that he was killed in action 5th July 1916.

He died of his wounds in No. 57 Field Ambulance, France on the 6th July 1916

Telegram: 19 July 1916
To Sargent , Brook Cottage, Fritchley, Derbyshire
Deeply regret to inform you 2/Lt HW Sargent Sherwood Foresters was killed in action July 5th. The Army Council expressses their sympathy, this information could not be communicated before as yopur address had not been registered and all efforts to trace have failed

5 August 1916
The Military Secretary presents his compliments to Mr H. G. Sargent, and begs to inform him that a report has just been received which states that 2nd Lieut. H.W. Sargent 1st Sherwood Foresters died of wounds on July 8th, and was not actually killed in action.

19 August 1916
The Military Secretary presents his compliments to Mr H. G. Sargent, and begs to inform him that a report has just been received from Army Headquarters in the Field which states that the late 2nd Lieutenant H. W. Sargent, 1st Battalion Sherwood Foresters, died in No. 57 Field Ambulance, France and was buried at Albert Cemetery.
The Military Secretary ventures to send this information now, as Mr Sargent may not have previously received it.

His effects sent to his father comprised: identity disk, wrist watch, nickel mirror, whistle and lanyard, cigarette lighter, cigarette case, key chain, bottle of morphine tabloids, leather wallet, book of 1d stamps, Officer's Advance Book, A.B. 153, letter and photos, broken ruler
[Officers did not carry a pay book. Their pay was accounted for by Regimental Agents (Cox's or Holt's)  and paid into bank accounts. They had an advance book of large old style cheques.  Also, each Officer had an AB 153 which was a standard field message book. ]

Photo courtesy Hugh Bailey (with thanks to Donald Bailey)

WW1 grave marker for Harry Sargent

Photograph of the grave marker for Harry Sargent

Newspaper Reports

Derby Daily Telegraph Tuesday 8 August 1916
Second-lieut. Henry Westbury Sargent, of the Sherwood Foresters, who is reported killed, was born in 1895 at Walton-on-Thames. He was the only son of Mr Henry Crunden Sargent, now of Fritchley, Derbyshire, and the late Mrs Sargent. He was educated at Berkhamsted and Derby Schools.

Belper News 4 August 1916
Lieut Henry Westbury Sargent, of the Sherwood Foresters, and only son of Mr Henry C Sargent, of Fritchley was killed in action at La Bouisselle, he was in his 22nd year and was educated at Berkhamstead and Derby. Previous to enlisting, in December 1914, he was on the clerical staff of the Midland Railway. Mr Sargent, the father, is a thorough patriotic Quaker, and his family have been residents of Fritchley for the past 53 years; he himself carried on the business for many years in London, and is now spending his retirement Fritchley. Mr Sargent has received several sympathetic letters, in addition to the following from officers of his son’s regiment, all of which testify to his great courage and devotion to duty.

Dear Mr Sargent, – it is my painful duty to have to tell you of the death from wounds of your son at 71st Field Ambulance, Albert. Where he had also been buried. In action at La Bouisselle on July 5, your son was severely wounded by a bomb thrown by the enemy on reaching the head of his Company, where he had once gone hearing that the advance was temporarily held up. I enclose a report on the work he did and the great courage he displayed, which you may care to keep. Had he lived his name would have been sent in for the Military Cross. Unfortunately, I think now, no reward can be made to the services he rendered to the regiments. Please accept my very deep sympathy for your sad loss, which is also the regiments. Your boy had not been long with us but I had already noted his work and general tone – believe me, yours sincerely, R L Sherbrooke Lt Col.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Initials H W
Nationality United Kingdom
Rank Second Lieutenant
Regiment/Service Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment)
Unit 1st Bn.
Age 21
Date of Death 06/07/16
Additional Information Son of Henry Crunden Sargent, of Fritchley, Derby, and of the late Amy Sophia Sargent. Born at Walton-on-Thames
Casualty type Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference I.I.24

War Graves Certificate for Henry Sargent WW1

Soldiers' Effects Book
H.W. Sargent; Notts & Derby; 2 Lieut; killed in action 6.7.16; War Gratuity [unknown amount]

[Officers' records differed from those of the ranks; no payees recorded]


1901: Birkhamstead

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Henry Crunden Sargent Head (wdr) 49 Charted Accountant Capel, Surrey
Amy Katherine Sargent daughter 9   London
Phyllis M Sargent daughter 7   Hersham
Henry Westbury Sargent son 6   Hersham
Lydia Burclay Sargent sister 46   Cockermouth
Eliza Golding governess 32 Governess Woodbridge
Harriett Failes servant 60 General domestic servant Wisbrough
Marion Agnes Failes servant 17 Housemaid, domestic Notting Hill

RG13 piece 1329 folio 11 page 38

1911: Newbridge Road, Ambergate

Forename Surname Relationship Age Occupation Where born
Henry Crunden Sargent Head 59 Retired Charted Accountant Capel
Edith Margaret Sargent wife 35   Thirsk
Phyllis Mary Sargent daughter 17 School Walton on Thames
Henry Westbury Sargent son 16 School Walton on Thames
Winifred Lydia Crunden Sargent daughter 5   Birkhamsted

RG14PN20986 RG78PN1251 RD436 SD4 ED15 SN129