Able Seaman Reginald Allen Boggis

Thank you to Jim Edwards for the following research.

Reginald Boggis survived the First World War, but his name still appears on the War Memorial.

The name R Boggis appears on the South Street memorial. It is also on the St Martin’s Church and Powell Corderoy School (now lost) memorials as an Able Seaman, Royal Navy who died during the Great War. However the national records do not list anyone with this (or a similar name) killed.

Reginald Allan Boggis was born in Brockham on 18th July 1900. His parents were Herbert (born in Reigate) and Ellen (born in Dorking). In April 1901 they were living in Hawley, Hampshire, where Herbert was a cowman on a farm. In April 1903 they were living at Hook, Surbiton when his sister Violet Esther was born. In June 1906, they were in Addlestone, Surrey when his second sister Gladys Rosa was born. In the census on 2nd April 1911 they were at Pond Tail Farm, Brockham, with two boarders, and Herbert was again listed as a cowman on a farm.

The admission registers show that on 20th March 1914 the three children were admitted to the National School (Powell Corderoy), having moved from Brockham School and were living at Mile Cottage, Coldharbour Lane, Dorking. Reginald left on 8th July, with the reason given as “Exempt”. (He was over the compulsory school age of 12.) The two girls left the school on 21st September, “Left Dorking”.

The Powell Corderoy annual report, which came out around December each year, shows Reginald Boggis as serving in the Royal Navy in 1914 (when he was only 14) and in 1915 on “HMTS Warspite”. Although there was a Royal Navy battleship HMS Warspite, it seems more likely he was on Training Ship Warspite.

This was a wooden ship at Greenhithe, London which had been built in 1823 as a 120 gun sailing ship and had been modified as a smaller steam ship in 1859. It was on loan to the Marine Society and used for boys of good character, aged 14 to 16½, from poor backgrounds to be apprenticed for two years, without any expense to parents other than £15 for admission. After a minimum of six months some boys joined the Royal Navy and were released from their apprenticeship. Others would finish the course of 12 to 15 months and complete the rest of their indentured time at sea, under the control of the Society’s shipping agent. The ship was destroyed by fire in 1918, but replaced and the training method continued until 1944. The Society now helps with education services for those serving in the Royal Navy or Merchant Navy.

In 1916 the school annual report no longer published the names of those serving and the following year it listed R Boggis amongst those who made the “supreme sacrifice”. His name was included on the war memorial (now lost) as AB RN. St Martin’s church also lists him as Able Seaman, Royal Navy and his name appears on the South Street memorial. These details appear incorrect.

Official records show that on 10th June 1918 Reginald Allen Boggis (born 18 July 1900 in Brockham) enlisted in the Royal Marines Light Infantry at Chatham (number 22094), five weeks before his eighteenth birthday, giving his previous trade as “Merchant Seaman”.

He received the British war medal awarded to a Royal Marine who had served for 28 days at the time of the victory (unlike the army a marine did not need to have left Britain for an active theatre to qualify), but as he did not go to an active theatre he did not receive the Victory medal. He was also awarded the Mercantile Marine Medal for those who served in the served for six months at sea or one voyage in a danger zone.

On 10th February 1923 he married Lilian Janetta Bilke in St Katharine’s Church, Merstham, Surrey. Her address was shown as Haywards Heath.
He left the full time Marines when he completed twelve year of service (from his 18th birthday) in July 1930, going to Maresfield in Sussex. He enlisted in the Royal Fleet Reserve and undertook the required week’s training every two years. He was recalled full time in August 1939 and served until October 1945, finally being discharged from the reserve in October 1946.
He died in March 1950 in Cuckfield, Sussex