2nd Lieutenant

The lowest rank of commissioned officer. Note that a Subaltern is a term applied to any officer below the rank of captain, especially a second lieutenant. Derivation from Latin related to the word for alternate.  Until 1871 the lowest commissioned rank was the Ensign in the Infantry and Cornet in the Cavalry - both names derived from French words signifying standard bearers. The Fusilier regiments, having no company colours, had First and Second Lieutenants anyway. The Fusiliers abolished the rank of Second Lieutenant in 1834. Between 1871-1877 the lowest was the Sub Lieutenant, after which today's Second Lieutenant rank was established.

2nd Lieutenant Reginald Sidney Strange

Sec Lieut Reginald Sydney Strange, attached 1st Battalion Northants Regiment, was killed in action at Le Cateau in France on October 17th, 1918. He was single and a month short of his 24th birthday.

He belonged to a Luton family which had traded in the town as drapers and outfitters since 1832. His father Arthur continued the family link to the firm, and in the 1911 Census Reginald was described as a draper's assistant.

2nd Lieutenant Alfred Melbourne Coate

Sec-Lieut Alfred Melbourne ('Chum') Coate, 15th Battery, 36th Brigade Royal Field Artillery, third son of the nine children of Canon Harry Coate, Vicar of St Matthew's Church, Luton, and his Australian-born wife Henrietta Mercy Coate, was killed at an observation post during a battle north of Albert in France on August 28th, 1918. [Newspaper reports at the time give a date of August 27th.]

2nd Lieutenant Alfred Hugh Galbraith

Second Lieut Alfred Hugh Galbraith, 57th Training Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, died in a flying accident near Abbassia in Egypt on February 24th, 1918. He was just short of his 19th birthday.

He was the only surviving son of former Luton Town centre forward Hugh Galbraith and his wife Martha, of 69 Chapel Street. Hugh had married Martha Hearn at Christ Church, Luton, on July 4th, 1898, and Alfred was born the following year. Sister Marjorie was born in 1902. A brother, Harold, born in 1905, died in 1909 before his fourth birthday.

2nd Lieutenant Frank Hampson

Second-Lieut Frank Hampson, 3rd Battalion The King's (Liverpool) Regiment, was killed in action on November 30th, 1917. He met his death while cheering his men on.

Until moving to Liverpool three years previously he had been manager of Pearks' Stores on Market Hill, Luton. At that time he was Hon Secretary of the Luton branch of the Shop Assistants' Union. He was a former President of Luton Trades Council and a founder and first President of Luton Labour Club.

2nd Lieutenant Percy Luck

Percy Luck was born in 1884 in Luton, 1 of 4 children born to William & Sarah Ann.

In 1911 Percy is 17 years old & assisting in the family business of bakers & confectioners at 38 Bury Park road. His 50 year old father, 50 year old mother & 19 year old sister Nellie May are all working at the bakery. Percy's paternal aunt Ada Williamson, 44 is living with them, so is their general domestic servant 22 year old Edith Aston.

2nd Lieutenant Joseph Arthur Freeman

Joseph Arthur Freeman was born in 1894 in Luton, only son of Joseph and Rose.

In 1911 he is 17 years old and assisting in the family business and living with his parents at 'Elvaston' No 33 London Road. His mother Rose is 37 and his 52-year-old father is a straw hat manufacturer employing workers. Also at the address are 18-year-old Frank Henry Clegg and a sick nurse, 34-year-old Ann Mabel Adshead.

Joseph joined the Royal Air Force and it was on 29th July, 1918, whilst flying at RAF Shawbury in Shropshire that he was killed.

2nd Lieutenant Leslie Wyndham Mansell


Second Lieut Leslie Wyndham Mansell, Derbyshire Yeomanry attached to the Durham Light Infantry, was killed in action in France on April 22nd, 1917.

Although his family lived in Bromley, Kent, Leslie had lived in Luton for some time and his father, Mr Harry Milton Mansell, was involved in the cardboard box firm of C. A. Coutts, of the Victor Works, 106 Old Bedford Road, Luton. Leslie was about to enter the firm at London when war broke out.

2nd Lieutenant Frederic George Thompson


Second Lieut Frederic George Thompson, 7th Bedfords attached to 6th Bedfords, was killed in action by a shell in France on April 11th, 1917. He was aged 30.

Although living in Castle Road, Bedford, he had spent 12 years as a cashier at Barclays Bank in Luton, whom he joined in 1904.

He had offered himself for service in he early stages of the war but had been rejected. About a year before his death, however, he got into the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps and was later gazetted to the Bedfordshire Regiment, with whom he went from Landguard to serve in France.

2nd Lieutenant Meredyth Robert Owen Williams


Second-Lieut Meredyth Robert Owen Williams, 25th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed in action in France on March 14th, 1917. He was the younger son of Luton Alderman Herbert Owen Williams, of Farley Lynches, Castle Street [now Farley Hill]. He was a month short of his 23rd birthday.

His commanding officer wrote to parents Herbert and Edith Jane Williams that their son was manning a support trench with his platoon during a German raid at about five o'clock in the morning. The gun fire was terribly heavy, and Lieut Williams was killed by a bursting shell.

2nd Lieutenant Ralph Wycombe Butcher


Second-Lieut Ralph Wycombe Butcher, 4th Battalion Manchester Regiment (attached 22nd Battalion), was killed in action in France on March 14th, 1917. The 21-year-old had initially been reported wounded and missing.

Parents William Joseph and Lily Rhoda Butcher, of Bendrose, Braithwaite Road [later part of Malzeard Road], Luton, were told by their son's commanding officer that Ralph's body had been found by a search party close to the enemy's wires.

2nd Lieutenant Charles Frederick Burley


Second Lieut Charles Frederick Burley, 4th Battalion (attached 10th) Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was killed in action on the Somme on November 18th, 1916. The younger son of leading Luton hat manufacturer Richard Burley, he would not have been 19 years old until December 1st - and still under military age for service abroad.

2nd Lieutenant Harold George Fyson


Second Lieut Harold George Fyson, 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, was killed in action on the Somme on October 12th, 1916. He was aged 26.

Born in Luton in April 1890, he was a son of straw hat dyer employer George Austin Fyson and his wife Kate(nee Cooke), of 36 Leagrave Road.

His parents received a telegram on October 15th to say he had been wounded on the 12th and then a second to say he was wounded and missing. Then two letters from fellow officers confirmed his death.

2nd Lieutenant Edward Stanley Strachan


Second Lieut Edward Stanley Strachan, 8th Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment), was killed in action on October 14th, 1915. A year later he was still reported "missing, believed killed".

The eldest son of a London wine merchant, his Luton connection was as a partner in the grocery and wines business of T. Forman & Co, of Market Hill. He is included on the Luton Roll of Honour.


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