Lieut Edward Gerald Palmer "Bo" FENN 
- Born: 2 Sep 1894, Grey Frairs Colchester.
- Died: 19 Sep 1918, Killed In Action Kefe-Kasim Palestine aged 24
- Buried: Wadi Rabah
Edward (known as Beau or Bo in his youth, or Robert later) was educated at Broadstairs, Sherborne School, Emmanuel College Cambridge, joined 6th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, att. 1st/5th Essex Regiment.
Tripos Lists. Classics.
Historical tripos Part 1 Class III \endash EGP Fenn.
The Times 19 June 1916.
Fenn, Edward Gerald Palmer, son of Dr. E. L. Penn (o.s.) ; b. 94; (a) ; vi ; P. ; xv 12, 13 ; left 14 ; Emm. CoiL, Camb. ; Europ. War, Lieut. R.W. Pus. ; killed in Palestine 18.
Of interest Edward was at Sherborne School with Alec Waugh, elder brother of author Evelyn Waugh, Alec also became an author. His first work was "The Loom of Youth" published 1917. Waugh had been asked to leave Sherborne in 1915, and in the year after that, wrote his unsentimental & candid portrait of his years at Sherborne in the form of a fine Public School novel.
Edward is cast as Hazelton in it, the Head of Games in School House and is given a sympathetic depiction, the School had a strong games ethos at that time. (Pages 191 - 193, 204 - 205.)
The novel touched on all aspects of Public School life including alluding to homosexual behaviour, many of the Masters were not portrayed as they would have liked. Accordingly the School did not welcome the work and many felt hurt at their depiction and angry at what they perceived as disloyalty.
It was not until 1933 that Alec and Sherborne were reconciled when he presented the book's manuscript to the School.
Ref: Rachel Hassall, Sherborne Archivist, who has written an excellent account of the matter.
The collater & researcher of this family history rarely indulgies in adding his own opinion, but as the only direct descendant of Edward's generation, it is his experience that these Fenn men & women were benign in their behaviour, popular & kind.
Edward was a keen rugby player, his 1st XV cap is inscribed "E G Fenn 1st XV colours Tonbridge School Nov 23nd 1912 Maker N. Lemon and Sons. Sherborne." Cap presented to Sherborne School Archives - 2020
Rachel Hassall Sherborne Archivist writes - 2020
Edward's XV cap was sold by N. Lemon & Sons, Sherborne.
The following account of the game against Tonbridge School on 23 November 1912 appeared in The Shirburnian, though it doesn't account for why Edward was awarded his colours after the game:
SCHOOL v. TONBRIDGE SCHOOL.
Played at Tonbridge on November 23rd.
Tonbridge won the toss and Sherborne kicked off against a slight breeze. Tonbridge were stronger in the grovel, being taller and heavier than the School, but the School forwards held their own well in the scrums and got the ball out almost as often as their opponents; the three-quarters however were unable to make the most of the opportunities afforded by the good heeling of the forwards, as they were much slower than the Tonbridge three-quarters. This lack of speed brought it about that the School failed to score during the match. Tonbridge scored twice in the first half, Musson converting the second try (8-0).
In the second half the School pressed their opponents hard for a long time, but were unable to score. Swabey once got past all the Tonbridge three-quarters, but the whistle went for 'feet up' in the scrum, and he was recalled. Webb made three excellent attempts to drop a goal from penalty kicks, but on each occasion the kick just failed. Harding then scored for Tonbridge after a good rush (11-0). Soon afterwards Knott scored near the posts, following a fine rush by the Tonbridge forwards (14-0). Play then continued in mid-field until, near the end of the game, Bladon got the ball and was making a good run when he was collared magnificently by Wheeler. He got up again, however, and scored. Musson converted the try (19-0). The whistle then blew for 'no side'.
The School played very well indeed, but were beaten by a bigger and faster side: Wheeler showed up brilliantly at back.
School - F.G. Wheeler, R.B. Jenkins, W.E. Vacher, E.E.F. Baker, W.H.G. Samler, G.S. Dixon, A.M.E. Swabey, G.Y. Blair (captain), L.J. Hooper, N. Catt, M.H. Webb, R.C. Ross, N.G. Crawhall, G.H. Vacher, E.G.P. Fenn.
Tonbridge School - J.G. Brown, W.G. Frend, M.W. Bladon, F.W. Musson, G. Shuter, R.E. le Fleming, W.F. Cripps, P.G. Knott (captain), E.E. Nott-Bower, J.S. Harding, W.T. Douglas, A.N. Venning, A. Jennings, D.A. Greek, C.A. Woods.
ROLL OF HONOUR OF SELECTED BRITISH ENTERPRISES IN ARGENTINA
FENN, EDWARD GERALD PALMER, born 2 September 1894, Grey Frairs Colchester, son of Dr. Edward Liveing Fenn, J.P., and Edith Fenn, of Alston Court, Nayland, Suffolk. His first School (Preparatory) was at Broadstairs; thence he went to Sherborne, and, on leaving School, Matriculated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Last employer, London and River Plate Bank, Buenos Aires, 2nd Lieut. ... 19/09/1918, 24 Royal Welsh Fusiliers ... U. 75. RAMLEH WAR CEMETERY
Edward was appointed to a second Lieutenancy in the Territorial Force 9 June 1917
Also see the tribute below to Edward, the "Life and Death of Edward G P Fenn" in the books section of this website.
My dear Adria,
Very many thanks for your letter and the most welcome box of chocolates, it was very nice being able to get over to Van, I much enjoyed the weekend. I am appallingly hard worked at present and today Sunday I am on duty from 7 a.m. to midnight and tomorrow I have to take a entrenching party 2 or 3 miles away to another camp in the early morning and then go out again at eight o'clock at night for some night wiring which will probably go on till 11 or 12.
My photos arrived at last yesterday I will send you them on in course of time.
I should be much obliged if you would forward by return the following articles:
1 pair Footer boots
1 sweater (low necked, no collar)
1 striped shirt (Emmanuel colours)
1 white shirt (with Sherborne diagm on it)
2 pairs shorts
2 stockings (1 blue & 1 black with magenta tops)
I put in the full details to prevent mistakes.
I see no prospect of going on draft at present, so am preparing for a little footer. We shall probably leave this came soon as it's too cold to be under canvas now. I believe our destination is near Ryal a seaside place in N. Wales.
I am writing this on a bed so I am afraid the writing may be hard to decipher. Life has been quite an eventful lately - there is not the slightest prospect of any leave at present have a 48 hours touch.
Again very many thanks
Your affectionate brother
Edward G. P. Fenn.
P. S. please also send a scrum cap - this is a black arrangement with black ribbons on it to go over the head and ears.
Written on two pages in envelope addressed Miss Fenn Alston Court Nayland Colchester
Edward was killed in action by a sniper on the first morning of General Allenby's successful campaign, known as the battle of Megiddo, which, with Lawrence and the Arab forces attacking from the east, drove the Turks out of Palestine.
Edward and his platoon were attacking a Turkish position at Kefr-Kasim (Kafr Qasim) near Rosh Ha'Ayin in the district of Jiljulie (Jaljulya) about 15 Km north east of Tel Aviv. He was first buried in Jiljulie District Military Graves where the Wadi Rabah opens to the plain of Sharon, but later exhumed and reburied at Ramleh War Cemetery 12 Km south east of Jaffa, grave ref. U75.
Dick Fenn mentions in a letter to Harry Fenn 5 Feb 1962 that he met Edward in Cairo Dec 1917 when Dick was recovering from a wound and dysentery. Dick wrote "We went out together a good deal and I formed a high opinion of him and was deeply distressed to hear of his death in action in 1918 when I was back in France".
Photos, letters, (including the two below, handwritten), war memorabilia, (including the compass being used by Edward when he was shot), in the possession of E L Fenn 1999.
Stamped 12.30 24 September 18 Nayland
Mis Fenn Alston Court Nayland Colchester Deeply regret Alexandria report SP (Sept) 21 Second Lieutenant E. G. P. Fenn Royal Welsh Fusiliers killed in action Army Council express sympathy
Sec. War Office.
In a buff coloured telegram envelope reading no charge for delivery addressed Mis Fenn Alston Court.
Post Office Telegraphs
7.5pm Office Buckingham Palace received Colchester 7.4 p.m. 7 Oct 18. Miss Fenn Alston Court Neyland Colchester.
The King and Queen deeply regret the loss you and the army have sustained by the death of your brother in the service of his Country their Majesties truly sympathise with you in your sorrow.
Keeper of the Privy Purse.
In a buff coloured telegram envelope as above addressed Miss Fenn Alston Court Nayland. Numbered 313.
DEATH NOTICE: Killed in action. in Palestine, on September 21st, Edward Gerald Palmer, 2nd Lieut. Royal Welsh Fusiliers, beloved son of Edward Liveing (the late) and Edith F Fenn, of Alston Court, Nayland, Suffolk, aged 24.
Ref: Chelmsford Chronicle - 18 Oct 1918.
NAYLAND PARISH MAGAZINE.
It is with very deep sorrow, mingled with pride, that we have to announce the noble death of another of the heroic band from Nayland who have made the supreme sacrifice for King and Country, and at the same time we wish to offer the sympathy of all to Mrs. Fenn and Miss Fenn in their heavy loss.
Edward Gerald Palmer Fenn was born at Grey Friars, Colchester, on September 2nd, 1894. His first School (Preparatory) was at Broadstairs; thence he went to Sherborne, and, on leaving School, Matriculated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He received his Commission in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and as 2nd Lieutenant went to Egypt for 10 months; he was then attached to the 1/5th Essex Regiment, and went to Palestine.
It was when " leading his platoon to victory " that he was hit in the side, which rendered him quite unconscious, and he died a few minutes later. " Our battalion and one other (writes the Colonel) were the first to lead the attack which produced such great results." Those results were nothing less than the deliverance of the Holy Land from the power of the Turk. R.I.P.
We are allowed (by the kindness of Mrs. Fenn) to print the following letters, which will be read with interest:
From Captain Finn.
26th September 1918
I believe Colonel Gibbons has written to you concerning the loss of your son second Lieutenant EGP Fenn. In sending you the latters Record of Service Book I feel I must also express my sincere sympathy with you in your sorrow. Your son had only been with us a little while, but during that week or two I had come into contact with him frequently. It was recognised by all our Battalion Headquarters that he was a decided acquisition, and we counted ourselves lucky to have him posted to us.
I did not see him hit, but shortly before, Colonel Gibbons and I had gone over to speak to him, to guide him in his advance in the dark, over most treacherous and difficult country. He was in front of one of the leading platoons of his Company, in the fore-front of the attack, and was carrying on in a really excellent manner.
He was buried in the Wadi Rabah, one of the best known of the deep valleys in this part of the Holy Land. The Rev. H. J. W. Knights, C.F., officiated. He is a good friend of mine and I will ask him to write and give you further particulars It is a difficult matter to express adequately in a letter one's deep sympathy, but please be assured that all here feel for you. Perhaps you can extract some small amount of satisfaction from the knowledge that your boy fell in a battle that seems to have settled the fate of our enemies definitely in this part of the world.
He has gone the way of thousands of other excellent fellows, but the signs are that his and their sacrifices have not been in vain.
Believe me, yours faithfully,
J. F. FINN (Capt. and Adjt.) 1/5 Bn. Essex Regt.
P.S. All your son's kit has been sent to the Officer's Kit Bureau, Alexandria and his accounts out here are being dealt with by the Committee of Adjustment. G.H.Q.
Written on two sheets of graph paper.
From Col. Gibbons. E. E. F., 22/9/18.
My Dear Madam.
I take this, the first opportunity I have had, to write to tell you how grieved I and all the Battalion under my command, are for the loss of your son, 2nd Lieut. E. G. P. Fenn.
Your son had only been with us a very few days, and it is very sad to think he should have fallen in his first action.
I beg you to accept my heartfelt sympathy, he struck me as being a most promising young officer. How much more than that he must have been to you I know only too well, and I feel that anything I can say must be very slight consolation.
But you will, I am sure, be proud to know that he died leading a platoon of the Essex. Regt. to victory. He was killed in the early morning of the 19th inst. in our attack on the Turkish position near KefeKasim, Palestine He was hit in the side and died in a few minutes - quite unconcious and without suffering. He also had a slight wound in the throat but this may have been caused by his fall on the rocky ground.
He was buried at the place where the Wadi Rabah runs into the plain of Sharon, about a mile north of the old Crusaders' fortress of Mejdel Yaba, I mention these places in case you have a map of the country. I will try later on to send you a photograph of his grave. His belongings are being carefully checked and will be sent to you in due course. Do not be disappointed if they do not arrive quickly, it generally takes a considerable time, but they will be sent without fail.
You will, no doubt, have seen an account in the home papers of Gen. Allenby's great victory in which your son played such an honourable part. Our battalion and one other were the first to lead the attack, which produced such great results.
Again assuring you of my great regret and sympathy,
Believe me, yours very faithfully,
T. GIBBONS, Lieut. Col.
Written on two pages in pencil from Palestine envelope addressed OAS. Mrs Edith Fenn Alston Court Nayland Colchester England. Stamped Past Censor 809 and signed.
26 September 1918
Dear Mrs Fenn
I am writing to tell you how sorry I am to learn the news of the death in action of your son Edward. We were very great friends, and it comes as a great blow to me. Having been classified as fit, he left with three others for the line. He joined his new Batt. on the 9th of September and went into action on the morning of the 19th September. He was killed that same morning at the beginning of the new offensive. One of the officers he went with has since written me to say he was killed by a sniper. I did not see him, before he left this Batt., as I was on a course at the time, but he wrote me the enclosed letter, which I thought you would like to see. I think this is about his last letter to anyone here. He was extremely popular, and everyone, officers and men, felt it greatly when the news came through. I am sending you any letters that come for him here and his kit will come to you also, but this will take some time. All his personal belongings were left at the base, excepting his large silver cigarette case and two revolvers, which he carried on him. These three articles may be lost. I am sorry I cannot look after the return of his kit or treasures, as this is all done officially, by his Battalion and special officers at the base, but if you will let me know if you do not get all his kit, I can easily make the necessary enquiries here.
Please do not think it rude of me if I ask that if there is any article of his you would care to let me have, as a keepsake and reminder of him, I should treasure it very much indeed.
When Edward came to this Battalion last year he was posted to the same Company as myself, and we became great friends and shared the same rooms and were always about together. I feel I have lost a brother.
Will you please accept my deepest sympathy in your very great loss.
A W Croft 2nd L
6th Gar K.W.F
R.W.F. att 1/5 Essex Reg.
C/o Cox & Co.
Dear Mrs Fenn
Please excuse me for taking the privilege in writing you, but I feel it my duty to do so. My sympathy goes with you regarding the death of your dear son. It was felt very keenly in the Essex but more so into this old Batt R.W.F. especially by the officers of the 3rd R.W.F. Hunthe (?) Park I had seen the officers of the R.W.F. since and I dear say you will have had letters from them. If you have not it is because of your address as no officer's death was more mourned for by his brother officers than that of your son. He and I have been together since we were in Cambridge and then we met again in the R.W.F and have been together ever since, even to the joining the Essex Regiment. I was taken ill just before he met his death and when I got to the clearing station and was told of it and I may tell you I really felt heart sick and felt as though I never wanted to see the Batt. again. He was my only pal in the Essex as we had not been with the Batt. long, so that it is the reason why I did not want to rejoin the Essex. He and I were always the best of friends and we used to share the same room in the Citadel. Did he send you a snap which I took whilst travelling in the truck up Palestine I sent one to my dear Mater and told her of his death.
I have three brothers in France and in my last letter from home Mater told me she had not heard from the elder one for one month and it was just the week before the Armistice was signed but I hope they have had word by thus. The reason I have not written before this is I have been in hospital, and now the Batt. has come down in the line.
I hope this finds you all in perfect health and wishing you the Compliments of the Season.
Lance Steil Lieut.
Envelope addressed O.E.S Mrs Fenn Allston Court Nayland Southwark England postmarked Field Hospital, stamped Pasted by Censor No 809
My dear Madam
Thank you for your letter of October 26 and the kind of things you say of the Battalion. I am only sorry I am unable to tell you so little, and indeed do so little to lighten a mother's sorrow. I am particularly sorry I could not carry out my intention of getting you a photo of the place where the lad lies. We were ordered to march the next day, on a 150 mile trek and I had no opportunity of sending anyone to the spot, which even then we had left some miles behind.
I suggest however that you write to the officer i/c, Graves Registration E.E.F. Alexandria and ask him if a photo can be obtained. He may have the means of procuring one and I am sure would be willing to help. We did not come back through Palestine, as we took ship from a route.
Yours vy faithfully
I Gibbons Lt Col
Mrs E. Fenn
Written on three sides of black edged notepaper, headed Turf Club Cairo, Cables "Turf, Cairo.". Envelope black edged addressed O.A.S
Mrs E. Fenn Alston Court Nayland Colchester England. Stamped Cairo 28 December 18 10 p.m., Past by Based Censor signed I Gibbons.
1/5 Essex Reg.
C/o Cox & Co.
Dear Mrs Fenn
Please pardon my laxity in writing you in answer to your letter dated 12.1.19. Since I received it I have been making enquiries as to how I could get a photograph of your son's grave and yesterday I was told to write to an Officer in charge of graves. I also made enquiries from his Platoon Sergeant where they were when it happened and he told me that his Officer had just gone to put another sergeant in his right direction. You probably don't understand, but it is done by the use of a compass and N.C.O's do not understand these things and therefore losing direction is easily done in the rocks of Palestine. You must pardon me for reopening this wound but I thought that you would like to know that when your son met his death he was giving another person a helping hand. He was buried in Wadi Rabar on the 19th but his body would be moved to a British Military Cemetery later but when I hear from the officer he will inform me where this is. You may know all this that I have told you but if not I will write if you wish it. The officers of the R.W.F want to know if I can get my information I don't know who if I told you they had moved to Salonika. I do sincerely hope that the photograph I told you off was in his kit as I have mislaid the film but if it was not I sent one home and I will ask to have one taken of it. I suppose you have read in the papers of the unrest in Egypt. They don't state half of what has happened. The inconvenience and trouble it has given the troops out here is terrible and we are constantly moving from one place to another for guard duty. I hope you will excuse me for writing about your son but I often speak of him to our offices.
I sincerely hope this finds you in perfect health as it leaves me.
Lance Steil Lieut.
Envelope marked O.H.S. addressed Mrs Fenn Alston Court Nayland Suffolk England.
Duke's Head Hotel
Dear Mrs Fenn
Many thanks for your letter which I received two days ago. I was very pleased that my letter to you had reached its destination as I could not find your address and I sat down and at last it came to me the name of your place, so I got a map and I knew when I saw Nayland it was the place. I know I have your letter which I received in Egypt and I shall always keep it but at the time of writing I could not lay hands on it but my mother was sitting and I told her the sentences it contained which was perfectly true, but you probably forget and that was "Those who knew him loved him".
I have just written to two officers in charge of graves, Palestine and I will see if I can get a photograph of his grave. I often think about times at the Citadel Cairo. You see he and I shared one large room and I had my white flannels out there and did not use them so he used to use them. We used to share and share alike and all kinds of things I have in my kit brings back little memories of our room in the Citadel. It's very kind of you to ask me what I should like belonging to him but I can tell you now no one on earth would treasure one of his books more than I would. I say it myself but I am a terrible boy for taking care of my things and if you knew any of my friends they would be quite prepared to tell you so. I have a pair of field glasses but I'm sure I should not ask you for those of his. It is not kind of me to keep this thing up again but I can add a little phrase to my letter "Those who loved him, will never forget him" and that is why I speak of him. Never part with his field glasses unless to some person who loved him as he was carrying those when he fell and also his compass. I don't like telling you this Mrs Fenn after so long but his memory on that day is as fresh now as it was then so I know you will excuse me.
I will close now hoping that my letter finds you in perfect health.
I am yours faithfully
Lance Steil Lieut.
Written on three sides of three pages with envelope postmarked Penrith addressed Mrs Fenn Alston Court Nayland Suffolk.
3 Humphry St,
14. 4. 20.
Dear Mrs Fenn,
Very many thanks for your kind later. It is very good of you to suggest sending me some small thing as a keepsake of your dear boy. I should treasure it very much, not lest I forget, for that were not possible, but as a keepsake of one with whom I had the honour of helping to achieve a great worthy object, and as a help to try to follow the example of one who did a man's work and did it well, leaving behind him a bright memory, which after all, I think it is the best thing that any of us can do.
Yours very sincerely,
In an envelope addressed to Mrs Fenn, Alston Court, Nayland
Mrs E. Fenn,
Imperial War Graves Commission Ref: SL/13/6021
82 Baker St W1
4 August 1921.
With reference to the information already sent to you regarding the burial place of the second Lieutenant EGP then who was buried in the Jijulie District Military Graves Fejja, I am directed to inform you that it has been found necessary to exhume the bodies buried in this area and to re-inter them, and the body of the above-mentioned officer has accordingly been removed and buried in Ramleh Military Cemetery, Plot U, Grave 75, Palestine.
The new grave has been duly marked and is registered in this office. The reburial has been carefully and reverently carried out
Your obedient Servant
E S C Greene (?)
for Principal Assistant Secretary.
Edward was called Robert by his brother Rev E V Fenn in a letter to him for his birthday 2 Sept 1918, on file 2003.
Mrs Edward Fenn (Mater) refers to Beau returning to Broardstairs (School?) 22 Sept 1907 in letter to H L Fenn 12 Sept 1907.
His father calls him "Bob" Letter to H L Fenn 29 Nov 1906.
In Memory of
EDWARD GERALD PALMER FENN
6th Bn., Royal Welsh Fusiliers
attd. 1st/5th Bn., Essex Regiment
who died on
Thursday, 19th September 1918. Age 24.
Additional Information: Son of Dr. Edward Liveing Fenn, J.P and Edith Fenn, of Alston Court, Nayland, Suffolk. Native of Colchester.
Cemetery: RAMLEH WAR CEMETERY, Israel
Grave Reference U. 75.
Location: Ramla (formerly Ramleh) is a small town 12 kilometres south-east of Jaffa. From Tel-Aviv, proceed along Route One (Ayalon) towards Jerusalem. Pass the exit to Ben Gurion airport and take the next exit signposted Petah Tiqwa, Ramla, Lod Route 40. Proceed along Route 40 to the T junction with Route 44, signposted Bet Shemesh, Lod. Turn right and follow Route 44 towards Lod until the first set of traffic lights. Turn right towards Ramla (Ramleh) Prison. Before you reach the prison, Ramleh War Cemetery is signposted right along a minor road/track. Turn right and follow the minor road/track for about 200 metres and the cemetery is to be found on the right.
Historical Information: The war cemetery dates from the 1914-1918 War, when Ramleh was occupied by the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade on the 1st November, 1917. Field Ambulances, and later casualty clearing stations, were posted at Ramleh and Lydda from December, 1917 onwards, and the cemetery was begun by the medical units. The cemetery retains the name by which it was originally known, although the name of the town itself is now Ramla to distinguish it from Ramleh in Egypt. The 19141918 War burials include graves brought in from the battlefields and from Latron, Sarona and Wilhema Military and Indian Cemeteries. During the 1939-1945 War this cemetery was used by the Ramla Royal
Air Force Station and by various British General Hospitals posted in turn to the area for varying periods. There are now over 3,500, 1914-18 and 1,000, 1939-45 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, over 1,000 from the 1914-18 War are unidentified. From the 1939-45 War, a special memorial commemorates a member of the W.A.A.F. buried at Jerusalem (Vaad Hakehilla) Cemetery whose grave is now lost, and bears the quotation "Their glory shall not be blotted out". The cemetery covers an area of 23,895 square metres and the Commonwealth section is enclosed by a stone wall.
Ref: Commonwealth war Graves Commission.
A Commemorative Evening - Nayland 4 August 2014
Introduction by Mary George, Chairperson of the Parish Council.
1914 was a year of extremes. In January, the River was very low. Wells and pumps ran dry leaving some homes without fresh water but then in February and March constant rain flooded the valley. At the end of April there was heavy snow. Then, in June and July the temperature rose to 85. The harvest was ready early after the long hot Summer, so the school term finished sooner than usual because many children would be helping with the harvest.
So, the school was closed when Germany declared war on Russia and France then invaded Belgium. Britain declared war on Germany at 11 pm on 4th August 1914. That evening, the Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey looked across St James' Park from the Foreign Office and said: "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we will not see them lit again in our lifetime". In Nayland, the gas lamps in the village streets were taken down to be locked away for 4 and a half years.
By the time the school re-opened on September 7th, half a million young men had answered Kitchener's call to enlist, including 43 from Nayland and Wiston. The British Expeditionary Force, including soldiers from Nayland, had been in France for a month. The School logbook recorded that Daniel Sexton had been injured at the Battle of Mons in August: the entry adds "His account of the battle is appalling. Its awfulness baffles description".
The Headmaster wrote: "Perhaps in future years it will be interesting to have a record of this Parish during the War so I intend to make this Log Book a kind of diary of the doings in this terrible time of stress". Thanks to him we have a record of the impact of the loss of our young men and the day-to-day hardships endured by the families left at home.
The people of Nayland and Wiston were already doing their bit for the war effort and the whole parish was raising funds for Belgian Refugees. Children gave up their pocket money for refugee orphans or sent parcels to the troops. Women in the parish formed the Nayland Working Party to support those serving at the Front and provided wool for the girls at Nayland School to knit scarves, socks and gloves for the men.
On 12th September a Patriotic Meeting led by Sir Joshua Rowley was attended by the clergymen of all three Nayland churches, army officers and residents. More men were encouraged to enlist and fight in a war that many thought would be over by Christmas.
From October 1914, there were Zeppelin attacks on East Anglian towns and these airships were often seen passing over Nayland. Explosions in Colchester and Sudbury could be heard clearly here and shook the windows.
Sometimes several thousand soldiers were seen marching through the centre of the village. 200 soldiers of the Machine Gun Corps were billeted in village homes while on manoeuvres in the valley before going to France. They were given the freedom of the Mission Room in Bear Street and the Chapel Sunday School Room. Villagers set up a canteen and organised concerts and dances. Some of the soldiers sang in the church choir or helped with bellringing.
By November more local men had been injured and invalided home and news of the first death, Private George Alfred Collins aged 22, arrived in December. He was killed in November just two days after arriving in Mesopotamia from India, and a few days after he had written his last letters home.
Bombay, 4 November 1914
"My Dear Mother,
You will have to excuse a short letter this week as I am writing to all of them before we leave for the Front… don't let this letter worry you as when you get this we shall be nearly there and I shall be glad … as I am fed up … Ask Elias to remember me to all of them at the Hart, and tell Ada and Mary I am alright. Dear Mother, keep this piece of yellow (ribbon) in remembrance of me in case I don't come back. So goodbye, and love to all from George. "
Within months, many more casualties were recorded. The Headmaster wrote "This war is coming home to Nayland very acutely"...."It is taking a heavy toll on my Boys".
By November 1918, 197 Old Boys of Nayland School had served in the war, some of them barely out of the classroom. Some pupils were from Little Horkesley, Boxted, Leavenheath and Stoke, but the Roll of Honour in this Church lists only the names of 152 men from Nayland. The War Memorial in Nayland commemorates 27 of those who died with 5 more named on Wiston Memorial. 14 others are either mentioned in the school log book, or described in regimental records as born in Nayland or Wiston but most of these are not listed anywhere on local memorials. They bring the total number of deaths of men from families in this parish, to 46.
A Memorial Avenue of Trees was planted in Colchester dedicated to the memory of the area's War Dead, Edwards mother Edith supported it. Unforunately Edwards Tree has not survived the years
In 2018 a book was published under the auspices of the Lexden History Group on the Memorial Avenue an entry on Edward was written by Elizabeth White.
1. Census: England, 31 Mar 1901, 81 High St Colchester ESS. Edward is recorded as a son aged 6 born Colchester ESS
2. Census: England, 2 Apr 1911, Sherborne School The Abbey Sherborne DOR. Edward is recorded as a pupil aged 16 born Colchester ESS
3. Edward Gerald Palmer Fenn: School House Sherborne, 1911, Sherborne DOR.
Staff & pupils of School House Sherborne School 1911,
Details of Sherborne 1913 First XV men who died in WWI
Images courtesy Sherborne School Archives - 2020 - Names from Album presented to N C Smith 1927.
Crosses indicate Sherborne men lost in WWI.
4. The Life and Death of Edward Gerald Palmer Fenn, 1894-1918.
Pages 1 to 5 Note - Double click on images to enlarge them
5. The Life and Death of Edward Gerald Palmer Fenn, 1894-1918.
Pages 6 to 10
6. The Life and Death of Edward Gerald Palmer Fenn, 1894-1918.
Pages 11 to 15
7. The Life and Death of Edward Gerald Palmer Fenn, 1894-1918.
Pages 16 to 20
8. The Life and Death of Edward Gerald Palmer Fenn, 1894-1918.
Pages 21 to 25
9. The Life and Death of Edward Gerald Palmer Fenn, 1894-1918.
Pages 26 to 30
10. The Avenue of Remembrance: Colchester Essex.
Commemorates local men who paid the Supreme Sacrifice in WWI
Image courtesy of Liz White - 2018 ( A book on the men remembered, was published in Sept 2018)