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Henry George Besant

Rank: Private

Lifetime: 1885-1917

Reference: 19898

Private Henry George Besant (19898) of the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards died aged 32 on 21 September 1917. Given the date of his death and the location of his memorial, he was, presumably, a casualty of the Third Battle of Ypres (more commonly known as the Battle of Passchendaele) which was waged between July and November 1917 for control of the ridges to the South and East of the city of Ypres.

He was born in April 1885 and baptised on the nineteenth day of that month at St John the Baptist’s, Hampton Wick. His parents were Louisa Maria and Henry Charles Besant. The family lived in various properties along the High Street. In 1891 they lived on Gravel Pit Hill at 6 Gravel Pit Cottages (75 High Street). Louisa (29) and her three children Louise (7), Henry (6) and Hedley (7 months) had all been born in Hampton Wick, whereas her husband, a railway signalman, had moved to the area from Hinton Martell, Dorset.

The family continued to grow. Although the eldest child, Louise had moved out by 1901, two further children had been born, William and Alice. By the time of the 1911 Census, the family was complete and all the four children who remained at home, now 3 Chestnut Place (72 High Street), were working. Henry George now twenty five years old was an unmarried lighterman. His brothers, Hedley John Besant and William Albert Besant, were employed as a general labourer and building clerk respectively. His younger sister, Alice Anne Besant was also a clerk for a printer.

He has no known grave but he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

The first phase of this Project is to gather information about the men commemorated on the Hampton Wick War Memorial who fought in the Great War, also known as World War I, WWI or the First World War.

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