FORDHAM, Harry Wilfred

No.155655, Sapper, Harry Wilfred FORDHAM
Aged 30

102nd Field Company, Royal Engineers
Died of his Wounds on Saturday, 12th May 1917

Harry Wilfred Fordham was born in Soham on 26th August 1886 (Newmarket Q4-1886 3B:533), baptised in Soham on 28th March 1902, son of Abraham and Polly (Mary) FORDHAM (née POLLARD).

1891 census...Aged 4, he was at Paddock Street, Soham with his father Abraham FORDHAM [39] carpenter; his mother Mary [37]; brothers Charles [16] carpenter's apprentice, Ellis [12] errand boy and Percy [10]; sisters Florence [14], Mabel [7] and Grace [2]. All were born in Soham

1901 census...Aged 14, errand boy, he was at Brook Street with his parents; brothers Charles (journeyman carpenter), Edwin E (Ellis) (bricklayer), Percy W (labourer), and Alfred G [8] born Soham and Ernest J [2] born Soham; sisters Florence G, Mabel V. Eva Grace and Rose M [5] born Soham.

1911 census...Aged 24, carpenter/joiner, he was at Brook Street with his parents, brother Gordon (Alfred G ?) agricultural engineer, James (Ernest J?) [12] ; sister Rosa [15] and nephew Alonzo FORDHAM [8] born Soham.

There was a continual changing of given names in this family, sometime using 1st, sometimes 2nd name but it does appear to be the same family unit. 10 out of 10 surviving in 1911.

Harry married on 27th September 1916 in Soham to Mary Ann SEALE (b. 2-4-1891). On 29th March 1917 their son Wilfred George FORDHAM was born (1917-1990). [Army records] On the family form in 1920 his widow only identifies Harry's parents, brothers Charles and Edwin and sisters Rosa and Grace plus 2 half blood sisters, both Alice and presumably actually her sisters in law.

The pension card has Mary and their son at The Shade, Soham. She married Ernest FRETWELL in 1922

He enlisted in Cambridge on 26th February 1916 when living at 41 Gwydir Street, Cambridge. He gave his age as 29 yrs 6 mths, single, a carpenter and next of kin, his father Abraham of Brook Street Soham. he was 5 feet 5 5/8 inches (166.6 cm) tall, weighed 111 lbs (50.5 kg), chest 37" to 40" (94 to 101.6 cm), Church of England
Posted to the Reserves, he was mobilised on 5th April 1916. Having married in September, on 14th October 1916 he left Newark to proceed to RE General Base Depot on France and was posted to the 102nd Field Company, arriving with them on 6th November 1916. His army records show his son Wilfred George was born on March 29th 1917
He received shell wounds to abdomen, thigh, Eyes and hands on 12th May 1917 and died at No.10 Casualty Clearing Station (Remy Siding)
Remy Siding was the location of several C.C.S., close to the front line, just SW of Poperinghe but out of range of most German artillery. Exactly where he was wounded is not known. Harry was the only one of his unit to die that week

Local press report
A telegram was received last week conveying the sad news that Sapper Harry Wilfred Fordham, Royal Engineers, was severely wounded on May 12th, and admitted to a casualty station. Later information to hand, however, is to the effect that death took place within a few hours as a result of shell wounds. The late Sapper Fordham was the fourth son of Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Fordham, of Brook Street, and had been in France about eight months. Subsequent communications all speak of him in glowing terms. He leaves a widow and a baby boy. - An officer of the deceased soldier's Company, writing to the widow, says -"He always showed the greatest devotion to duty, willing to go anywhere or do anything, and the men -more so myself- deeply feel the loss of so fine a fellow. He died a heroic death, fighting for a cause which we all mean to pull through to a victorious end".
The Chaplain writes:"It is with much regret that I have to inform you that your husband was seriously wounded a couple of days ago, and was admitted into this hospital for treatment, but this was without avail, and he collapsed and died yesterday evening.. He was practically unconscious all the time, so that I had no opportunity of sensible conversation with him.You may rest assured that everything possible was done for him, and he received all attention from doctors and every sympathetic care from the nurses. It was my sad privilege to bury him today along with some other brave fellows in a cemetery reserved for our soldiers, and which is due course will be a beautiful "God's Acre".

Conflicting reports there, make of it what you will.

Harry Fordham is buried in Lijssenhoek Military Cemetery, Belgium, grave 12:B:6A

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