AUSTIN Vernon James
Regiment : Royal Field Artillery
Service number : V0
Conflict : WW1
Date of death : 26th January 1915
Buried : Canterbury (St Martin) Churchyard, Kent, England, North of Church Tower.
Memorial : Austin Motor Co Vernon Austin Memorial now in Northfield Royal British Legion Club
Also appears on : Lickey War Memorial. Austin Motor Company WW1 Roll of Honour No 1 now in Northfield Royal British Legion Club under Commercial Staff with the information: Royal Field Artillery. Austin Motor Company WW1 Roll of Honour No 2 now in Northfield Royal British Legion Club under Commercial Staff with the information: Royal Field Artillery. Austin Motor Company WW1 Roll of Honour No 2 now in Northfield Royal British Legion Club with the information: Killed at La Bassee, January 26th 1915 22nd Batt., 34th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, (only son of Sir Herbert Austin, K.B.E., M.P.)
Credits : 1911 census researched and transcribed by Andy Frisby.
The inscription on the memorial reads:
TO THE MEMORY OF
VERNON JAMES AUSTIN
A SECOND LIEUTENANT OF THE
22ND BATTERY, 34TH BRIGADE, ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY
BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
BORN NOV. 21ST 1893.
KILLED IN ACTION AT LAS BASSEE, FRANCE
ON JANUARY 26TH 1915,
AGED 21 YEARS.
INTERRED IN ST MARTIN’S CHURCHYARD. – CANTERBURY
“AND THEY THAT LIVE SHALL HONOURED LIVE:
AND THEY THAT FALL TO THEM WE GIVE –
PROUD-HEARTED WHILE WE WEEP –
A WORTHIER HOMAGE THAN OUR TEARS,
THE DEATHLESS MEMORY OF YEARS
TO CROWN THEIR GLORIOUS SLEEP.”
Sutton Road, Erdington (St Annes)
Herbert Austin, head, age 34, Manager – Electrical Engineer born Little Missenden, Bucks
Helen Austin, wife, age 34, born Melbourne, Australia
Irene Austin, daughter, age 10, born Melbourne, Australia
Vernon J Austin, son, age 7, born, Birmingham
Marguerite Marigaud, servant, age 22, Governess (Domestic), born France
Mary Hanks, servant, age 43, Cook (Domestic)
In 1911, Vernon was an apprentice at the Austin Motor Company. His father, Herbert, was a car manufacturer and head of the company.
The following information has been researched by Jeff Taylor:
SON OF MIDLAND INDUSTRIALIST KILLED IN ACTION
Second Lieutenant Vernon James Austin of the Royal Field Artillery, who was killed in action on Tuesday the 26 January 1915, near La Bassee, Ypres, was the son of Mr. Herbert Austin Esq., of Lickey Grange, Bromsgrove, the Managing Director of The Austin Motor Company Ltd., Longbridge, Birmingham. Lieutenant Austin was born at Birmingham on the 21 November 1893, and was educated at St. Cuthbert’s, Malvern; King’s School, Canterbury, and Leipzig. He was appointed Second Lieutenant in the Special Reserve of Officers in January 1912. He embarked for France with the Expeditionary Force at the outbreak of war, in August 1914, and was present through the retirement from Mons, and at the Battles of the Aisne, the Marne and Ypres. His promotion to Lieutenant, to date from the 6 January 1915, was not Gazetted until the following May. The young officer was home just before Christmas on a few days leave.
Second Lieutenant Vernon James Austin was of the few Allied servicemen who were killed overseas and whose bodies were returned to the United Kingdom for private burial. A privately commissioned headstone, situated to the north of the church tower, within the Canterbury (St. Martin) Churchyard, Canterbury, Kent, serves to mark his grave, being inscribed with the following words of dedication:
TO THE MEMORY OF
SEC. LIEUT. VERNON
BORN Nov 23 1894
GAZETTED Jan 6 1912
KILLED IN ACTION
JANUARY 26 1915
NEAR LA BASSEE IN
SERVING WITH THE
34TH BRIGADE. R.F.A.
IN THE GREAT WAR.
GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN
THAN THIS THAT A MAN LAY
DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS
NB Vernon Austin’s date of birth is incorrect on his gravestone, his birth is registered in the December Quarter 1893 under the King’s Norton Registration District.