SPENCER Henry Beresford
Regiment : West Somerset Yeomanry attached Tank Corps
Service number : H0
Conflict : WW1
Date of death : Killed in action aged 37 on 2nd September 1918
Buried : Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy, France, Grave VI. E. 15.
Relatives : Husband of Dorothy A. Spencer, 5 Richmond Rd., Exmouth
Memorial : Blockley St Peter and St Paul's Church WW1 Memorial
Also appears on : Blockley War Memorial under Soldiers 1918 with the information: Lieut. Sep. 22
Credits : Additional research courtesy of the researcher of the casualties on the Blockley War Memorials
Henry Spencer was born on 5th July 1881 in Paxford and baptised in Blockley Church on 31st July 1881, the son of Henry Montague Spencer, Gentleman. He was the eldest of three children and the only boy; his second name was his mother’s maiden name. Henry’s father was an officer in the 2nd Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment and the land agent at nearby Northwick Park. From at least 1891 and almost certainly earlier, and until 1911 and possibly later, the family lived at Cotswold House, Blockley. However, Henry was sent to Lindley Lodge, a boarding school in Leicestershire, where he was in 1891. He is reported to have graduated at Brasenose College, Oxford University with a Bachelor of Arts.
By 1901 Henry had volunteered for what would later become the Territorial Army – a Volunteer Battalion within his father’s regiment, the Gloucestershires. He is reported to have fought in the Boer War in 1900, and in 1901 he became a Second Lieutenant in his battalion.
He was living in Blockley when he married Dorothy Acton Farrar in nearby Bourton-on-the-Hill on 14th January 1908. On the marriage certificate he left the ‘occupation’ box blank. Dorothy was living in Bourton at the time but her home was in Exmouth, Devon, and after their marriage the couple set up home there. In 1911 Henry was a farmer in Devon. The couple had 2 children, Audrey J. Spencer born in 1911 and Dennis H. Spencer born in 1913. Both children’s births were registered in Tavistock in Devon.
Henry’s war service was with the West Somerset Yeomanry with whom he served as a Lieutenant, rising to the rank of Captain. At some stage he was attached to the Tank Corps, and he was with them when he was killed in action in France in September 1918. He is remembered in detail on the war memorial of his home town of Exmouth, and is also listed in Blockley. Presumably his father remained in Blockley, though at some point he and his wife moved to Bournemouth, where they died in 1924 and 1925 respectively. When Henry died he, or at least his wife, was living at an address in Exmouth. She probably remained in Devon, if she is the Dorothy A. Spencer of the correct age (73) whose death was registered in Devon Central in 1950.
Henry’s Medal Index card shows his date of entry into the theatre of war as 15th February 1918. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. An application for Henry’s medals was made in 1922, however it is not clear who has made the application as no name is given and the 2 addresses written on the card both relate to Manchester. It has not been possible to discover the family link with this area.
From the London Gazette Supplement 12th July 1901:
2nd Volunteer Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment
Henry Beresford Spencer, gent, to be 2nd Lieutenant, 13/7/1901
[Note: The 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment was one of two, later three such which would in 1908 become the regiment’s territorial battalions. Elements served in South Africa during the Boer War].
From the Exmouth War Memorial:
Captain Beresford Spencer of the Tank Corps. Son of Captain Henry Montague Spencer and his wife Ethel Louisa Beresford. Born 5 July 1881 at Paxford, near Chipping Camden. Died 2nd September 1918
From soldiers effects:
H. B. Spencer, 9/West Somerset Yeomanry 463
Killed in action 2/9/1918
consists of a list of inputs in 1918-19 and 1919-20 totalling 257 pounds 3s 3d and including 5 pounds War Gratuity, legatee not specified.
The Spencer family were rich and at the top of the local social scale during this era. Henry was referred to as a ‘gent’ when he was promoted to Lieutenant in 1901 and may have had no occupation when he married in 1908. His father listed himself as ‘gentleman’ on his son’s marriage certificate. Henry left an estate of a little over 1009 pounds, equivalent to some 51,500 pounds in 2014 (source Bank of England). On his death in 1924 Henry’s father left an estate of 2230 pounds (218,650 pounds).