Corporal Arthur George Salmons

Arthur George Farmer Salmons © Dorking Advertiser
Arthur George Farmer Salmons © Dorking Advertiser


© Royston Williamson 2015
Photograph courtesy of Royston Williamson

Thank you to Lenka Cathersides for the following research. Thank you to Peter Davidson for further research.

Arthur George Farmer was born about 1893 in Greenwich, Middlesex to an unknown woman. He was adopted by gardener and coachman William George Salmons and Emily Salmons (nee Stone).

Arthur’s adoptive father William was born on 9th June 1857 in Romford, Essex to William and Elizabeth (nee Goodwin). Arthur’s adoptive mother Emily was born on 13th August 1858 at Green Street in Norwich, Norfolk to blacksmith Philip, born on 3rd March 1835 at Arminghall, Norfolk, and dressmaker Hannah (nee Outlaw), born about 1831 in North Tuddenham, Norfolk.

William and Emily married on 8th August 1880 at the Nonconformist New Chapel, Church Path, Walthamstow, Essex.

At the time of the 1881 Census, the couple lived at 15 Cuthbert Road, Walthamstow, with William’s twice widowed mother and the three children by her second marriage. At this time, William was working as a gardener.

William and Emily had two birth children: William Philip born on 9th January 1886 and Maud Emily born on 9th April 1888, both in Walthamstow. The couple also adopted George William Bish born on 22nd September 1890 at Rockshaw Cottages, in Chaldon, Caterham, Surrey.

At the time of the 1891 Census, the family lived at Tower Cottages, High Street, Nutfield. William was working as a coachman and Emily was looking after their children William, Maud and adopted son George. 

At the time of the 1901 Census, the family lived at Waverley Court, Entrance Lodge, Camberley, Surrey. William was working as a gardener and Emily was looking after their children: confectioner’s apprentice William and scholars Maud and Arthur.

On the 17th of March 1906 William died at Withdeane, Lower London Road, Camberley and on the 21st of that month was buried at St Michael’s Church in Camberley.

At the time of the 1911 Census, Arthur was a footman to Norman McCorqudale at Winslow Hall, Winslow, Buckinghamshire.

Arthur married Annie Agnes Daley on 4th April 1915 at St Martin’s Church in Dorking. Arthur’s widowed mother, Emily, was one of the witnesses and his brother-in-law, Charles Henry Childs, was another.  At the time of the marriage, the couple lived at 39 Hart Road in Dorking and Arthur was working as an assistant wine merchant.

Annie was born on 2nd August 1894 in Lowestoft, Suffolk to smacks man (fisherman) Joseph and Emily (nee Firman). Annie’s parents Joseph and Emily married on 4th of November 1893 in Blundeston, Suffolk. At the time of the 1911 Census, Annie was working as a shop assistant and was living with her mother Emily and siblings at 57 Stanford Street, Lowestoft.

Arthur and Annie had a son, Joseph William Salmons. The child was born on 1st February 1916, at 7 Hart Gardens, Dorking where the family lived.

Military History

Arthur George Salmons (Farmer) enlisted on 30th November 1915 in Dorking into the Royal Engineers for the duration of the war. On 1st December 1915 he was transferred into the Army Reserve. His regimental number was 161192. At the time of his enlistment Arthur resided at 7 Hart Gardens in Dorking and was working as a clerk.

Arthur had grey eyes, ginger hair and a pale complexion. He was 5 feet and 8 inches tall and was short-sighted.

Arthur mobilised on 20th April 1916. His service was from 25th April 1916. Arthur was qualified as a trained motorcyclist. On 24th June 1916 he was promoted to a Corporal.

At the time of his death Corporal Salmons was a motor dispatch rider of the 3rd Army Signal Company, the Royal Engineers.



Mrs. Salmon, of Hart Gardens, Dorking, has received the sad news of the death of her husband in France. He was a motor transport driver, and has died in hospital from a fractured skull. The circumstances by which he met with his injuries are not yet known. Mr. Salmon before joining the Army was employed at the wine stores of Messrs. H. G. Kingham and Co. His widow is left with a young baby.

Arthur George Farmer Salmons Death Notice © Dorking Advertiser


Motor Despatch Rider

The death of Corpl. Arthur George Salmon has been already been recorded in our columns. According to later information from France it appears that Corpl. Salmon who was a motor despatch rider, was returning to Headquarters on the evening of Christmas Day, and about 7 o’clock the same night was found in the road unconscious. He was at once taken in a motor car to the nearest hospital, where it was found that he was suffering from concussion of the brain, obviously caused through a fall from his machine. He received every care, but did not regain consciousness, and died early the following morning. Mrs. Salmon, the young widow (who lives in Hart Gardens, Dorking) has received a letter from a sergeant in the Royal Engineers, who expressing sincerest sympathy with her on behalf of all the despatch riders says : “It was impossible to find anything to which we might be able to attribute the accident. Riding out here is very different to anything one gets at home, and includes a large proportion of night riding, which is always full of chances, even to a man with the very best eyesight and any amount of experience.” Captain Bulman, R. E. has also written “His death is deeply regretted by the whole of the company, as during the time that he served with us he had earned the respect of all, and was regarded as thoroughly reliable non-commissioned officer and a good soldier.” Corpl. Salmon was buried in the cemetery of the town where his company was quartered, and the service was attended by all who were off duty. He was accorded full military honours, and in the words of the sergeant above referred to, “You could not wish for more for one who had done his duty to his country.” The deceased’s mother lives at Lyons’ Cottages Dorking. He was for nearly two years employed at the wine stores of Messrs H. G. Kingham and Co. and was previously a steward on the Union Castle boats. His widow is left with a young child.

Arthur George Farmer Salmons Death Notice 2 © Dorking Advertiser

He died on 26th December 1916 at No 12 Stationary Hospital in France, after fracturing the base of his skull in a motor cycle accident.

The investigation of his death revealed, that on 25th December 1916 Corporal Salmons arrived from Roullens with despatches at 6-05PM. After handing in his despatches he received orders and departed for St Pol, his headquarters, with docket No. 4 at 6-10pm.

He was later found by Lt Col N. Childs who was also driving towards St Pol. When Childs and his companion reached approximately 4km out of Frevent they noticed something lying on the road. They found a Despatch Rider (Corporal Salmons) lying face downwards underneath his motorcycle. He was unconscious and bleeding slightly from the nose, mouth and from a wound in the head. Two other cars came by and Corporal Salmons was put into one of them. Lt Col Childs got in with him and supported him on the seat until they got to the 12 Stationary Hospital near St Pol.

A medical care sheet reveals that Corporal Salmons was admitted at 7pm on 25th December 1916 and died at 2.30pm the following morning of a fracture of the base of the skull with extra-dural and subdural haemorrhage. He had no haemorrhage in the brain. External marks showed abrasion on his nose and both hands. He had no bruising on his shoulders, hips or scalp. He never regained consciousness.

The investigation concluded that there was no evidence to prove how the accident occurred. Corporal Salmons always wore glasses when riding as he was short-sighted. He was a slow and careful driver – especially at night.

However, E.G. Shepperd, Major R.E. wrote in his report, that “it is probable that whilst passing a vehicle [Corpl Salmons] became dazzled by its lights and touched some part of it with his hand, left. The effect being that he was thrown off and landed on his hand. The occupiers of the vehicle would probably not know anything about it as it was dirty and windy night and all car hoods would be up.”

Arthur George Farmer Salmons St Pol Roll of Honour ©
Arthur George Farmer Salmons Personal Headstone Inscription ©
Arthur George Farmer Salmons Grave ©
Arthur George Farmer Salmons Grave ©

Arthur George Salmons (Farmer) is buried at the St Pol Communal Cemetery Extension in France. His grave reference number is: C.16. The headstone bears the inscription: “Until the Day Breaks”. Corporal Salmons’s company was quartered at St Pol and the service was attended by all who were off duty.

Before joining the Army, Arthur George Salmons (Farmer) was employed for nearly two years at the wine store of Messer’s. H. G. Kingham and Co. Prior to that he had been a steward on the Union Castle boats.


Annie Wanstall (formerly Salmons and born Daley), Eileen Salmons (nee Middleton, her daughter in law), Joseph Salmons (Annie's son by her first husband). ©
Annie Wanstall (formerly Salmons and born Daley), Eileen Salmons (nee Middleton, her daughter in law), Joseph Salmons (Annie’s son by her first husband). ©

Annie Agnes Salmons received £4 and 6s on 27th March 1917 and £4 in November 1919 in Soldier’s Effects. She lived at 7 Hart Gardens in Dorking. Annie was also awarded a pension of 20, – per week for herself and one child with effect from 2nd July 1917.

Arthur’s mother lived at Lyon’s Cottages, Dorking. 

Arthur George Salmons (Farmer) received the British War and Victory medals.

Detailed information on the family of Arthur George Salmons (Farmer) can be found here.

Born Greenwich. Kent
Lived Dorking, Surrey
Husband of Annie A. Salmons of 7 Hart Gardens, Dorking
Father of Joseph William Salmons
Enlisted Dorking
Regiment 3rd Army Signal Depot, Royal Engineers
Number 161192
Date of Death 26th December 1916
Place of Death France
Age 23
Cemetery St. Pol Communal Cemetery Extension, France
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