George Albert Jenkins died on 17th May 1915 aged 28 years old. He was the son of Rachel and Edward Jenkins of Stayton Road, Thatcham Berkshire and he never lived in Saxlingham Nethergate. For a long time it was a mystery as to why he was on the war memorial in the Church. His connection to Saxlingham is tenuous and complicated and will be explained later.
George Albert( also known as Albert) was born on 22nd April 1887 in Sutton, Surrey and was baptised at St Nicholas Church, Sutton on 22nd February 1891. His father, Edward, was a police officer. Edward married Rachel Knotts in Notting Hill on 11th October 1874. Edward and Rachel had nine children; Charles Edward born in 1875(died 1898), Emma born in 1877, Edith Annie, born 1880, Florence Beatrice, born 1882, Thomas born 1884, George Albert born 1887, Violet Winifred in 1890, Frederick in 1894 and Harry Victor in 1896.
In 1901 the family were living at 9 Alice Cottages, Crown Road in Sutton, Surrey. Edward had retired as a police officer and was working as a painter. George (known as Albert) was working as a firework maker and his older brother Thomas as a stable lad. His mother Rachel died in the summer of 1909. His father remarried in the autumn of 1909 and moved to live in Thatcham,
By 1911 only Harry Victor was living with his father and step-mother and working as a grocer’s assistant. Thomas was in the Royal Marines and Frederick aged 17 was living with his sister Edith Annie and his brother-in-law John Frederick Emms. Emma had married George Marshman in 1899 but by 1911 was widowed, Florence had married Benjamin Randall in 1903 and in 1911 was living with Violet who had married Edwin Pardoe in 1909. It has not been possible to find where George was in 1911.
Sometime before August 1914 he began working at Horton Mental Hospital in Epsom, in the Asylums and Mental Deficiency Department. Many of the men who worked there were ex-army personnel or in the Army Reserves.
Horton Hospital was a pioneering mental hospital built in 1902 by London County Council. It used music therapy as part of its treatment programme and specialised in the treatment of syphilis and paedophilia. George is remembered in the London County Council memorial book and also on the Horton Chapel War Memorial in the grounds of the former mental hospital.
According to the London County Council Record of War Service, George enlisted in 1914 and served in France for nine months in the Royal Lancers. They record him as being in 10th Royal Lancers with his number being 9901. However on his grave stone he is given as being in 12th Royal Lancers with his number being 1289. It was not unusual to change battalions or regiments and have a different number.
Research has been done in Epsom into the people mentioned on their war memorials and on their website www.epsomandewellhistoryexplorer.org.uk there are details about George Jenkins. The website records that George’s medal card shows that he went to war on 17th August 1914. This indicates that he was probably a reservist in the regular army. The website also states that he was wounded near Ypres-Roulers Road on May 14th 1915. The LCC records state that he died on 17th May1915 from his wounds at Hazebrouk. There were several Casualty Clearing Stations situated in the town and the dead were buried in the communal cemetery.
The second battle of Ypres took place between 22nd April and 25th May 1915 and gas was used for the first time by the Germans. On May 14th the 12th Lancers were not recorded as taking part in fighting and so it is not known how George was wounded. However even when not actively fighting the troops were often subjected to shelling and snipers and he may have been wounded in this way. As his service records no longer exist we will never know.
As previously stated his links with Saxlingham Nethergate are tenuous. He and his brother Frederick are mentioned on more than one occasion in papers that were in the Church Chest and now in the Norfolk Record Office. These lists record the regiments in which men served and also whether they should be on the main village war memorial. Mention is made of George Albert Jenkins being in the 12th Lancers and his brother Frederick being in the Australian army. Frederick’s service records are intact as they are deposited in Australia. Although wounded several times Frederick survived the war and through his records it was possible to link him with the family of John Frederick Emms. He lived with them in 1911 and then later with Edith Annie Emms, after the war, at 2 Stayton Road, Sutton, Surrey.
Edith Annie Emms (nee Jenkins) was both George and Frederick’s sister. She is linked to Saxlingham Nethergate by her marriage to John Frederick Emms, who was originally from the village. ( See the entry John Frederick Emms on the Church War Memorial for more details). There were several members of the Emms family living in the village and it is assumed that as they were a close family they included their daughter-in-law’s family in the prayers of the church. It is presumed that it is for that reason George is on the Church War memorial.
However George’s brother Harry Victor Jenkins also died as a result of the war on 1st October 1918 in a hospital in Leicester and he is not mentioned anywhere in our village records.
As well as being on our war memorial George Albert Jenkins is also on the War Memorial in Sutton, Surrey.
Census records:1861,1871 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
UK soldiers who died in the Great War 1914-18
British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914-1920.
Papers from Saxlingham Nethergate Church Chest now deposited at Norfolk Record Office.
Many thanks to Betty and Gordon Sturman of Sutton, Surrey for family photographs and information. Betty is the daughter of Florence Rachel Emms who died in 1994, and grand daughter of Edith Annie Emms (nee Jenkins) .George Albert Jenkins was her great uncle. Rachel and Edward were her great grandparents
Thanks to Clive Gilbert for information and photographs.