Born circa 1893, Harry’s domestic history has been hard to fathom. Whilst I can confirm that his Grandfather was Joseph Meaden, an Agricultural Labourer from Tilshead (b 1840 Imber bapt 4 Jun 1840 Imber d 1922 Amesbury) who is recorded as Next of Kin for Harry on his service record, I can’t work out with any degree of accuracy who his Mother and Father were.
He appears on the 1901 Census with Grand Father Joseph and other sons and daughters of Joseph (then widowed). Were one of these his mother (Jane) or father (Harry)?
The census return shows this family group living in Tilshead in 1901:
- Head – Joseph Meaden b 1840
- Samuel Meaden b 1867 Tilshead d 1928 Yardman on Farm
- Jane Meaden b 14 Mar 1869 Tilshead d 1948 Housekeeper
- Harry Meaden b 1873/4 Tilshead Gen Lab
- William Meaden b 23 Mar 1881Tilshead Shepherd
- Harry Meaden b 1894 – Amesbury – Grandson to Joseph
There are 2 other children of Joseph (and unknown wife possibly Emma) not on this Census.
- Henry Meaden b 1865 Imber
- AN OTHER NK
The 1911 Census for this Tilshead family identifies another Grandson of Joseph – Charles DoB circa 1903 Tilshead (is this Harry’s brother or cousin)?
In 1911 – Harry is recorded as a boarder with the family of Edward Rumble at Edward Rumble at Stockton, Codford, Wilts where he is recorded as a ‘Farm Under Carter’.
A Service record for Sapper Harry Meaden (Service Number: 215424 – WR/504215) exists but only gives sketchy detail.
He was attested on 6 Dec 1915 in Trowbridge, Wilts and posted to the Army Reserve on 8 Dec 1915. His record states he was mobilised 31 Jan 1916 but this slightly contradicts detail in a medical found for him which suggests he was actually mobilised as a Sapper in the Royal Engineers (Inland Waterways and Docks) circa Jan 1917 and deployed to France March 1917.
In 1914 General French in one of his dispatches called attention to the desirability of utilising the waterways of France and Belgium as means of military transport. The outcome of which was the formation of a branch of the Royal Engineers (Inland Waterways and Docks) whose duties were to operate a barge system, in the seat of war, across the English Channel. This corps had a very small beginning, and at its inception consisted of one tug, two barges, and a small store at the headquarters, Dover.
A medical record exists that shows Harry was admitted into 4th Stationary Hospital, based in Arques, with Myopia and was returned to duty 31 Oct 1917. This record shows he had been in the army for 10 months and in France for 8 months.
His ‘Soldiers Record of Effects Register’ entry shows he died by drowning on 27 Jan 1918 and given he was buried at DUNKIRK TOWN CEMETERY (Plot IV. B. 13) one could assume the tragic accident occurred there as Dunkirk was at the Northern end of a waterway system that paralleled behind the front line.