Sapper (abbreviated Spr) is the Royal Engineers' equivalent of Private. This is also the case within the Indian Army Corps of Engineers, Canadian Military Engineers, Royal Australian Engineers,[1] South African Army Engineer Formation and Royal New Zealand Engineers. The term Sapper was introduced in 1856 when the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners was amalgamated with the officer Corps of Royal Engineers to form the Corps of Royal Engineers.

Sapper John William Hobbs

Sapper John William Hobbs, 522405, 486th Field Company Royal Engineers, died of pneumonia in the 87th General Hospital in Egypt on November 27th, 1918. He was aged 26 and had enlisted in January 1915.

At the time of the 1911 Census he was living with parents Alfred and Sarah and four brothers and three sisters at 339 Hitchin Road, Round Green. He was listed as a 19-year-old iron moulder.

Sapper George Kendall Silsbey

Spr George Kendal Silsbey (Silsby), 522296, 486th Field Coy, Royal Engineers, died in Egypt on October 31st*, 1918, from pneumonia. Parents Harry and Caroline Annie (Carrie) Silsbey had been hoping to see him on home leave. They had not seen him since 1915, when he went to East.

A telegram received by the parents on November 1st, 1918, said their son was dangerously ill with fever, followed by a second telegram on November 6th to say that he died on October 31st from pneumonia.

Sapper John Winfield Trussell MM

Spr John Winfield Trussell, 489931, 46th Division Signal Coy, Royal Engineers, died in a casualty clearing station in France on October 7th, 1918, from wounds sustained in action. Poignantly, he was due to receive the Military Medal he had been awarded.

In a letter to his father Harry Trussell, of 15 Vicarage Street, Luton, a chaplain wrote: “You son was wounded at our headquarters, and when he left for hospital we quite hoped he would soon recover. But, alas, our hopes were never realised. He was a skilled telephonist and we shall miss him very much indeed.”

Sapper Walter George White

Sapper Walter George White, 60334, 11th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action in France on August 6th, 1918. He was married, had resided at 86 Cromwell Road, Luton, and had been wounded twice previously on the battlefield.

Born in 1889, he was at the time of the 1911 Census one of ten surviving children of George and Betsy White, of 83 Cromwell Road. Walter was then a straw hat warehouseman. He was employed by hat manufacturer Mr E. G. Bryant, of 39 Cheapside, until joining the Colours.

Sapper Horace Charles Godfrey

Sapper Horace Charles Godfrey, 78464, OO Cable Section, Royal Engineers, was killed in action in France on August 1st, 1918. He was aged 22 and the only son of Edward and Annie Godfrey, of 13 Baker Street, Luton.

An officer wrote to the parents: “Death occurred while he was on duty as sentry this morning about 1.30. There was an enemy bombing raid in the vicinity, and a bomb was dropped on the stables. Poor Horace was hit and died instantaneously.”

Sapper Thomas Victor Brown

Sapper Thomas Victor Brown, 524289, 222nd Field Company, Royal Artillery, was killed in action on April 14th, 1918. He was the second son of William Henry Brown, of 9 Brook Street, Luton, to lose his life on the battlefield - Pte William Henry Brown MM (Seaforth Highlanders) was killed in action in July 1917.

Sapper Brown was in trenches that were being badly shelled, and shortly before his own death he had helped a corporal who was badly wounded to get away from the area.

Sapper Frank Percy King

Sapper Frank Percy King, 522158, 483rd Field Company Royal Engineers, was killed in action on the Somme on April 2nd, 1918. He was aged 22 and single.

A comrade wrote to parents Frederick and Martha King at 127 Park Street, Luton: "I have some sad news to tell you. we lost an old Park Street boy, killed the last day we were in the line - Easter Tuesday. He was a jolly nice fellow, a little older than myself, and we had some very nice talks together about Park Street, for he and I were the only two Park Street boys in the Company."

Sapper Sidney Mooring

Sapper Sidney Mooring, 522873, 12th Field Company Royal Engineers, was killed in action in France on March 21st, 1918. He was aged 33 and left a widow, Alice, living at 7 St Paul's Road, Luton.

He joined the East Anglian Royal Engineers in May 1916 and trained at Maidenhead and Marlow before going to France in May 1917. Prior to enlistment he worked as a painter for house decorator Mr Fred Pearce, of Cowper Street.

Sapper George Frederick Warner

Sapper George Frederick Warner, 524478, 84th Field Company Royal Engineers, was killed in action at Cambrai in Fl;anders on December 2nd, 1917. He was aged 29, married and had three children.

A letter to his widow at 6 Bolton Road, Luton, said her husband was killed by a shell in the support trenches.

George Warner was employed by the Fricker Metal Company before the war. He had married Kate Bacchus at Luton Parish Church on December 10th, 1910, and they had three children - Lily May (born 1911), Winifred Kate (1914) and Rose (1915).

Sapper Frederick Charles Woodhouse

Sapper Frederick Charles Woodhouse, 99510, 220th Army Troops Company Royal Engineers, died in the No. 17 General Hospital, Alexandria, Egypt, on November 5th, 1917, from malaria.

The husband of Maggie, of 82 Langley Road [now Latimer Road], Luton, he left eight children. He had joined the Army in June 1915 and served in the Mediterranean with a Fortress Company of the Royal Engineers until he contracted the deadly malaria.

Born in Norfolk in 1882, he had married Maggie Pieraccini in Luton in 1904.

Sapper Reed Knight

Sapper Reed Knight, 628195, 4th Canadian Railway Troops, was killed in action near Nieuport in Belgium on October 19th, 1917. His was a story of a Vancouver boy's romance with a Luton girl that soon turned to tragedy on the battlefield.

Chaplain the Rev D. Oliver wrote that Sapper Knight was killed by a bursting shell. He died instantly and was buried the following afternoon in a British Cemetery. The funeral was a military one and his grave was marked with a wooden cross.

Sapper Frederick Jones

Sapper Frederick Jones, 522869, 225th Field Company Royal Engineers, died just after midnight on October 16th, 1917, after being wounded in the neck and thigh by an aerial bomb a short time earlier on the previous day.

He had only recently been discharged from hospital after being wounded by a shell falling on his billet on September 11th. Three men were killed and eight wounded in that incident.

Sapper Harry Perry

Sapper Harry Perry, 184418, 526th Field Company Royal Engineers, was killed in action in France on July 27th, 1917. He was aged 25, single and his home was at 45 Boyle Street, Luton.

After receiving official notification, parents Daniel and Emma Perry learned from commanding officer Major Purcell that their son had been buried not far from the front line with two companions beside him. A cross had been erected to his memory, and a memorial service was to be held.

Sapper Arthur Page

Sapper Arthur Page, 524547, 228th Field Company Royal Engineers, died on July 23rd, 1917, from multiple shell wounds to the head received in Belgium. The 31-year-old had been taken to the No 10 Casualty Clearing station.

Arthur Page and his wife Fanny Elizabeth came to Luton soon after their marriage at Abbotsley, near St Neots, on April 1st, 1907. Arthur was a parcels van man for the Midland Railway in Luton for eight or nine years before joining up.


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