WEST, Edwin Spragg

397, Trooper, Edwin Spragg WEST
Aged 22

7th Australian Light Horse
Died of Wounds on Sunday, 28th November 1915

Edwin Spragg WEST was born in Walsham le Willows, Suffolk (Stow Q4-1893 4A:745) son of Harry Thomas and Beatrice WEST(née SPRAGG)

1901 census...Aged 7, he was at Brook Farm, Walsham le Willows with his father Harry T WEST [40] farmer, born Walsham le Willows; his mother Beatrice [42] born Kings Lynn; sister Harriet E [8] born Walsham le Willows. There was another sister, Daisy Mary born c1891 in Walsham le Willows, not identified in this census.

1911 census...Aged 17, he was still at Brook Farm, Walsham le Willows assisting father on farm, with both parents and sister Daisy M [20] an assistant teacher, born Walsham le Willows.

He enlisted in Liverpool, New South Wales on 31st December 1914 giving his age as 21 years 2 months, next of kin his father H.West of Botesdale. He was 5 feet 7 inches (170.2 cm) tall, chest 33.5" to 39.5" (85.1 to 100.3 cm), grey eyes, light brown hair. Sadly his weight is unreadable. His religion was Presbyterian

Initially in the 12 Light Horse Reserve, he was posted to that regiment on 1st March 1915 and then they merged with the 7th Light Horse on 29th August 1915. Unusually his Army record is sparse, mainly folk asking for death certificates and will. His friend J.G.Adair (acting as it were in loco parentis) wanted his next of kin's address in order to send back to England a tin trunk of Edwin's.

Little has been found regarding the 7th Light Horse at the time of his death, so his friend's letter to his father is best that can be done.

Bury Free Press of 1st January 1916 :-

Sincere sympathy is extended to Mr. Harry Thomas West and family, formerly of Brook Farm, Walsham le Willows, and now residing at Botesdale, who on Christmas morning received the sad news from the War Office of the death of his only son, Trooper Edwin Spragge West, of the 7th Australian Light Horse, from a shrapnel wound in the head, received at the Dardanelles. The deceased, who was only about 22 years of age, completed his education at the East Anglian School, Bury St.Edmunds, and having subsequently some training in agricultural work, he went out to Australia about four years back. So much did the life out there appeal to him, that when his father paid him a visit about two years later, he declined to return to this country.
Shortly after the outbreak of war he joined the 12thh Australian Light Horse, which was eventually merged into the 7th. After a period of training he was sent to Egypt and thence to the Gallipoli Peninsular where he was for 13 weeks previous to his death, and from whence he frequently corresponded with his father, sisters and an uncle and aunt, Mr and Mrs C.West, all of whom are well known in the locality. His last was being written on November 4th, "in a trench within 50 yards of the Turks". An appreciative and kindly letter has been received from Lieut. J.W.Hampton, stating that death was caused by a shrapnel wound in the head, and that he was only conscious for a few moments after being struck. Trooper West, he continued, was steady and studious in all his duties, calm and steady at all times without show of for or any tendency to sickness (probably colonial term for funk). "Take to your heart," he continued, "the consolation that your son died a true soldier's death. He now lies within a murmur of the waves in a pretty little spot that looks towards the gloriously magnificent setting sun."
Another letter from a friend was as follows:- Dec.3rd, Anzac, Gallipoli - Dear Mr West, I expect that long ere this you have heard the sad news that your son Edwin has been killed in action, and as a friend and fellow trooper of your son, I thought you might like to hear how it happened. As I was in the same troop, and in the same tent during our training in Australia and later in Egypt, I of course saw a good deal of him, and had the honour of his friendship and from start to finish he behaved in a manner befitting and English gentleman. He was liked by everyone, and his loss is deeply regretted by us all.
His death took place on Sunday afternoon, November 28th. He and a party of fellow troopers were down on the beach doing fatigue work (i.e. bringing up stores, etc to the firing line) and while out in the open were caught by a shrapnel shell and one pellet hit your son in the head, another fellow just behind getting wounded in the hand. Everything that was possible was done for him, there being a field hospital close, but he died a few hours later without recovering consciousness. I think it was better that way, as he was spared any pain. He is buried behind our lines in a cemetery at Shell Green, and a cross will be put up by his many friends and fellow troopers. I hope I am not causing you undue worry by bringing this up so long after you must have first received the news, but I know that should the same thing happen to me my mother would be only too glad to get any information she could, and I only wish I would leave as fine a record to be sent to her, as your son has to you. I hope this ghastly war will soon be brought to a satisfactory finish, and the safety and integrity of the British race assured. Then all these sacrifices of brave lives will not have been in vain. Hoping you are all well, and with the deepest sympathy for the loss of your son and my best friend. -I remain, Yours Sincerely Fred G. Lee No 341 A.L.H.
It should be noted that this letter arrived within three days of the official intimation from the War Office.

photo: Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Edwin West is buried in Shell Green Cemetery, Gallipoli, grave 1:F:1

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details