Private Philip John Wood Baxter

Philip John Wood Baxter © Peter Davidson

Thank you very much to the Davidson family for allowing us to publish their family photographs of Philip John Wood Baxter.

Peter Davidson is the grandson of Elizabeth Kate Botting (nee Baxter), sister to Frederick and Philip.

Thank you to Lenka Cathersides from Dorking Museum for the following research.

Philip was born on 19th July 1893 in Beare Green Capel, Surrey. The son of John Baxter, Newdigate born and a blacksmith by trade, and his wife Mary Elizabeth who had been born in Norfolk and was about eight years younger than her husband.

He had seven siblings: Emily Susan born on 8th April 1881 in Holmwood; Isaac William born on 17th March 1883 in Dorking; Gertrude Mary born on 13th October 1886 in Beare Green, Capel and baptised there on 10th April 1887; Elizabeth Kate born on 25th October 1888; Hilda Margaret born on 18th November 1890; Lilian Caroline born on 19th July 1893 and Frederick Henry born on the 25th May 1895; all in Beare Green.

He was admitted into St Martin’s Church of England School (for Infants) with his twin sister Lilian on 10th January 1898. He left the school in November 1898 and was transferred into the Falkland Road Infant School.

At the time of the 1901 Census, Philip’s parents John, Mary Elizabeth and siblings Elizabeth Kate, Hilda Margaret, Lilian Caroline and brother Frederick Henry lived at 41 Orchard Road, Dorking. John was working as a blacksmith.

On 9th April 1902 he was registered into the St Martin’s Church of England School (for boys), which he left on 26th July 1907.

John Baxter had died in 1908 and by the time of the 1911 Census, Philip was working as a porter at the George public house, run and owned by Ada Ker. The public house stood at 213 Strand, St Clement Danes, London and had 15 rooms.

Before enlistment, Philip was part of the kitchen staff of the department store Jeremiah Rotherham & Co, High Street, Shoreditch, London.

He was over 5 feet tall and weighed 128 lb. His eyes were blue and his hair dark brown. He had a sallow complexion. On his enlistment papers, Philip stated that he was a carver.

Philip enlisted in Holborn on 6th September 1914 for three years with colours. He became part of the 9th Hussars Reserve Cavalry Regiment with a regimental number H/21418. He was a private.

He joined the 6th Battalion (Service) Northamptonshire Regiment on 30th October 1914 by his own request. His new regimental number was 16439 and he was still a private.

From the 6th of September 1914 to the 25th of July 1915 Philip served at home and from the 26th of July 1915 to the 13th April 1916 as the part of the British Expeditionary Force in France.

On the 27th of July 1915 Philip disembarked in France.

Philip Baxter Death Notice © Dorking Advertiser

Like his younger brother, Pte. Philip J. Baxter, has given his life for King and Country. Second son of Mrs. Baxter, of 21 Lyon’s Cottages, Dorking, and of the late Mr. Issac Baxter, of Beare Green, Pte. Baxter was in the emply of Messrs. Rotherham and Co. drapers of High Street, Shoreditch, when the war broke out, and enlisted in the Hussars (Cavalry Reserves). He was subsequently transferred to the Northampton Regimentm and went out to France on July 26th 1915. He passed successfully through several of the important engagements, and was instantaneously killed by a shell on April 13th during a heavy bombardment while bravely defending the front trench.

In a letter to his mother Pte. Baxter’s captain says: “Your son was a splendid soldier, always cheerful, and most cheerful when things were at all uncomfortable or dangerous – just exactly the sort of man one is proud to have under one’s command. He was a very good bomber too, and had done good work several times in this capacity. I cannot say how sorry I and all the officers who knew him are to have lost so fine a soldier. I expect you will be hearing from some of his comrades in his platoon; where he was a general favourite. He was buried in a soldier’s cemetery behind the firing line. The commanding officer and adjutant, and myself with some of the men of his section were there. He lies next to of his fallen comrades with a wooden cross over his grave: “In loving memory of Pte. W. Baxter; Northampton Regt; killed in action.” is painted on it, and a wreath of ivy and wild flowers from a neighbouring wood will be placed upon it when we go up again into the trenches.”

Sergt. A. G. Bury, writing on behalf of deceased’s platoon says : “Your son’s death has left a gap in the platoon, and his loss is deeply felt by his comrades….

He was a good soldier, always ready to do his bit, and to help others, and he died bravely doing his duty. His cheerful spirit made him many friends, and his loss is keenly felt by all.”

Mrs. Baxter also received the personal sympathy of the Major Commanding the regiment. Another son, Pte. Frederick Baxter, died from wounds received at the Battle of Loos in September last.

Philip Baxter Death Notice © Dorking Advertiser

Philip was killed instantly on the 13th of April 1916 by a shell during heavy bombardment while defending the front trench in Carnoy, Somme. His mother Mary Elizabeth was notified on the 26th of April 1916. According to Baxter’s Captain he was very cheerful, especially when things were uncomfortable, and a very good bomber. Mrs Baxter even received the personal sympathy of the Major commanding the regiment. At the time of his death Mary Elizabeth resided at 21 Lyons Cottages, High Street, Dorking.

Philip Baxter Roll of Honour ©

He is buried at Carnoy Military Cemetery in France. His grave reference number is: R.15.

Philip left his mother, Mary Elizabeth, Soldiers Effects of £4 18s. 4d on the 19th of June 1916 and a further £7 on the 28th of August 1919. On the 27th of June 1916 Mary received Philip’s cigarette case, a pocket wallet, five photos, a prayer book and a tobacco pouch.

Mary Elizabeth was also the benefactress of Philip’s will on the 20th of July 1915.

Philip received the British and Victory medals and the 1915 Star. Philip was in the Army for 1 year and 221 days.

Philip John Wood Baxter 1916 Postcard © Peter Davidson
Philip John Wood Baxter 1916 Postcard © Peter Davidson
Philip John Wood Baxter Postcard © Peter Davidson
Philip John Wood Baxter Postcard © Peter Davidson

A postcard sent by Philip Baxter to his elder sister Emily Susan Baxter. Emily never married. She continued to be employed as a domestic servant for the remainder of her working life.

Philip and Frederick Baxter © Peter Davidson
Philip (left) and Frederick Baxter © Peter Davidson
John and Mary Baxter Gravestone
John and Mary Baxter Gravestone © Warren Jackson

Family History

Philip John Wood Baxter and Frederick Henry Baxter‘s father was called John Baxter and was born on the 13th of April 1844 in Dorking, Surrey and baptised on the 12th of May in Newdigate, Surrey. He worked as a blacksmith. John died at the age of 64 on the 14th June 1908 in Dorking and was buried on the 19th of June 1908 in the Dorking Municipal Cemetery.

The boys’ mother was called Mary Elizabeth Stone. She was born on the 23rd of January 1856 in Norfolk and was baptized on the 19th of June 1856 at Saint John de Sepulchre in Norwich, Norfolk.

John and Mary Elizabeth married on the 17th of April 1880 in Dorking.

Mary died on the 27th of December 1924 at New Cottages Betchworth and was buried on the 2nd of January 1925 in Dorking Municipal Cemetery. At the time of her death Mary lived at Englefield, St. Paul’s Road, Dorking. She bequeathed £93 6s. 10d to her daughter Emily Susan Baxter, a spinster.

John Baxter’s parents and the boys’ grandparents were called Isaac Bag/Bagg Baxter and Susanna Baxter nee Wood.

Isaac Baxter was born about 1819 in Hascombe, Surrey and was baptised on the 28th June 1819 in Hascombe. He was a master blacksmith of Beare Green and of Capel. Isaac died on the 11th July 1895 at home at Beare Green at the age of 76. He was buried on the 15th of July at St John’s Church in Capel. He was in the blacksmith trade for nearly 50 years. For the last 12 years of his life, Isaac was an assistant gamekeeper on the Lyne Estate. He was known to wear velveteen coats or smock frocks. When he was young he was also a fairly well known cricketer: described as an aggressive batsman and one of the fastest overarm bowlers in the South of England. Apparently, once a ball he threw knocked a bail from a distance of 40 yards. His residence faced the Beare Green Cricket Club; and after he retired from playing he frequently acted as umpire.

Susanna Wood was born about 1812 in Capel. Her father was called John Wood.

The couple married on the 15th of November 1842 at St George the Martyr in Southwark.

At the time of the 1851 Census Isaac, Susanna and their children John, Edwin Horace and Isaac’s brother George lived at Buttery Cottage, Capel, Dorking. Isaac, John and George were working as blacksmiths. Isaac also employed an 18 year old apprentice called John Tickner.

Susanna Wood died suddenly on Christmas Eve of 1865.

Mary’s parents and the boys’ grandparents were called Philip Stone born about 1835 in Arminghall, Norfolk and Hannah Stone nee Outlaw born about 1831 in North Tuddenham, Norfolk. The couple were married on the 19th of December 1855 in Norwich. Philip could not write his own name and so placed a mark on the Marriage Register.

At the time of the 1861 Census Philip, Hannah and their daughters Mary Elizabeth and Emily lived at Doris Lane, Norwich. Hannah was the head of the household. She was working as a dressmaker. Philip was a blacksmith.

Born Dorking, Surrey
Son of John and Mary Elizabeth Baxter of Dorking
Brother of Frederick Henry Baxter
Enlisted Holborn, London
Regiment 6th Battalion. Northamptonshire Regiment
Number 16439
Former Regiment 9th Reserve Cavalry (Hussars)
Date of Death 13th April 1916
Place of Death Somme, France
Cause of Death Killed in Action
Age 22
Cemetery Carnoy Military Cemetery, Somme, France
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