Sergeant Edward James Mortimer


Photograph courtesy of Royston Williamson
Photograph courtesy of Royston Williamson

Thank you to Lenka Cathersides for the following research.

Edward Mortimer Birth Transcription Registration ©
Edward Mortimer – Image from Official Birth Registration Indexes ©

Edward James Mortimer was born in 1886 in Westcott, Surrey. According to the England and Wales birth index, Edward was born in the 3rd quarter of 1886 in the registration district of Dorking, but according to the 1894 National School Admission register he was born on 28th June 1886; and according to the England Select Births and Christenings, Edward was born on 26th June 1886. Edward’s parents were carpenter James and Elizabeth Jane (nee Doyle). Edward was baptised on 25th July 1886 in Westcott.

Edward’s father James was born about 1862 in Coldridge, Devon to carpenter George, born about 1834 in Sandford, Devon, and Agnes (nee Dart) born about 1823 in Coldridge. George and Agnes married in the 1st quarter of 1857 in Crediton, Devon. Edward’s mother Elizabeth Jane was born about 1855 or 1868 in Kingstown, Ireland. James and Elizabeth married in the 4th quarter of 1883 in Guildford, Surrey.

Edward had three known siblings: Annie Jane born in the 4th quarter of 1884 in Horsham Sussex; Beatrice Agnes H. born, according to the 1893 National School Admission register, on 14th January 1889; and William John (Jack) born, according to his enlistment papers, on 13th February 1891, both in Westcott.

Edward Mortimer 1891 Census ©

During the time of the 1891 Census, the family lived at Chapel Lane in Dorking. James was working as a joiner and Elizabeth was looking after their children Annie, Edward, Beatrice. and William.

Edward Mortimer 1901 Census ©
Edward Mortimer 1893 National School Admission Register © Surrey History Centre –

The 1893 National School Admission register reads that Edward and Beatrice Mortimer were admitted on 3rd May 1893 to St Martin’s Church of England School in Dorking for infants. At this time the family lived at St Martin’s Place in Dorking. Both children left the school on 25th September 1893.

Edward Mortimer 1894 National School Admission Register St. Martins School © Surrey History Centre

The 1894 National School Admission register reads that Edward was admitted on 27th August 1894 into St Martin’s Church of England School in Dorking for boys. At this time the family still lived at St Martin’s Place in Dorking. He left the school on 22nd December 1897.

Edward Mortimer 1901 Census ©

At the time of the 1901 Census, the family lived at 27 Mill Lane in Dorking. Elizabeth was working as a cook and, her children, Annie as a domestic servant, Edward was a butcher’s assistant and Beatrice and William were at school.

Edward Mortimer 1911 Census ©

At the time of the 1911 Census, Edward and his brother William John were boarders of jobbing gardener Thomas William Skilton at 6 Brookside in Dorking. Edward was working as a timber labourer and William as a painter labourer. The accommodation had four rooms.

Edward’s brother William enlisted into the Territorial Army on 23rd November 1911 in Dorking for 4 years. He became part of the 5th Battalion the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. He was appointed a bugler. His regimental numbers were T/1419 and T/240133. At the time of his enlistment William was working as a builder and lived at 6 Brookside in Dorking. William was 5ft, 7in tall, had brown hair and light eyes. Later he also had a tattoo.

At first William was serving at home and after the outbreak of WW1 in India. He was stationed in Bombay, Basra and Bagdad. William was punished several times during his service in the Army. For example in 1915 he was punished for being absent from Roll Call Parade, disobeying orders: shaving his upper lip and for being absent from playing at Officer’s Mess.

Edward Mortimer enlisted in Dorking, where he also at the time resided. He became Sergeant and his registration numbers were T/240020 and T/279. He was the part of the 1st/5th Battalion the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. Edward disembarked on 12th May 1915 in the Asiatic Theatre of War.

Edward Mortimer Prisoner of War Notice © Dorking Advertiser

According to the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser (24.06.1916) Edward was reported from the Base, amongst many others, as believed to have been taken prisoner of war at Kut-al-Amara in Mesopotamia.

The First Battle of Kut began on 5th April 1916, as the final British attempt to relieve the Turkish siege of Sir Charles Townshend’s beleaguered 10,000 troops garrisoned at Kut. Its failure sealed the fate Townshend’s force which, out of supplies, surrendered unconditionally to Turkish commander Khalil Pasha on 29th April 1916. Townshend’s failed to purchase parole for his 10,000 men with his offer of £1,000,000. This action is considered as the biggest humiliation of the British Army in its history. The conditions during the siege were appalling. Bitter cold and the lack of medical treatment led to deaths of many soldiers over the winter. Moreover, captured British and Indian soldiers were brutally treated during their march to Turkish POW camps in Anatolia. Of the 11,800 men who left Kut with their captors on 6th May 1916, 4,250 died either during the march or in the camps.

The QRWSR Prisoners Of War book reads that Edward Mortimer died on 31st July 1916 as a Turkish prisoner of war (held at Surrey History Centre at QRWS/1/5/1).

Edward Mortimer Basra Memorial Roll of Honour © CWGC
Edward Mortimer Basra Memorial Panel List ©

Edward is commemorated at Basra Memorial in today’s Iraq on panel 6.

Edward Mortimer Soldiers Effects ©

Edward’s father James received £69, 18s and 1d in Soldiers’ Effects including War Gratuity of £14.

Edward received the British War and Victory medals and the 1915 Star.

Edward’s brother William received the British War and Victory Medals, the 1915 Star and the Efficiency Medal.

He was discharged from the Army on demobilisation on 30th June 1919.

On 9th April 1921 he reenlisted in Dorking as the part of the 90 days emergency service. At this time he lived at 6 Church Garden in Dorking. He became again part of the 5th Battalion QRWS Regiment. He was a private. His regimental number was T/240133. He was dispersed on 4th July 1921.

William died in 1924 and was buried on 12th December 1924 in Dorking Cemetery.

Born Westcott, Dorking
Lived Dorking
Son of James and Elizabeth Jane Mortimer nee Doyle
Enlisted Dorking
Regiment 1st/5th Battalion, The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment
Number T/240029
Date of Death 31st July 1916
Place of Death Mespotamia
Age 30
Memorial Basra Memorial, Iraq
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