John Alfred Palmer


John Alfred Palmer


First World War

Date of Death / Age


Rank, Service Number & Service Details

London Regiment
1st/16th (County of London) Bn. (Queen's Westminster Rifles)


1914 /15 Star, British War and Victory medals


Pier and Face 13C.


>He has no Headstone. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing on the the Somme, France.

UK Memorials

Watford Borough Roll of Honour, St Matthew’s Church Memorial, Oxhey,
St Matthew’s Church Memorial, Oxhey,
Oxhey War Memorial,
Watford Borough Roll of Honour,
Woodbridge School in Suffolk War Memorial

Pre War

John Aldred Palmer was born in 1895, at 195, St Albans Road, Watford, Herts, son of Frederick Palmer a Railway Clerk and Ellen Emily Palmer (nee Briggs). One of seven children one died in infancy. He was Baptised at St Andrews Church, Watford, on 23rd February 1896.

His parents married 2 September 1893 at St Michael’s, Wood Green, Middx. Frederick died 1 May 1940 aged 74; Ellen died 11 January 1965 aged 94; both in Abbot’s Langley, Herts; both buried at St Lawrence’s, Abbot’s Langley.

The census returns of 1901 record John aged 5, living with his parents and elder sister Helen 6, in Kingsfield Road, Watford, Herts. The family have a live-in House Keeper.

1911 Census returns show John aged 15, as a boarder at Woodbridge School in Suffolk.

Wartime Service

John enlisted at Westminster, posted to the 1st/16th (County of London) Battalion. (Queen's Westminster Rifles), London Regiment, initially with the service number 2747 and later 550627. They were part of the 4th London Brigade, 2nd London Division and were mobilized and moved to the Hemel Hempstead area, being billeted in Leverstock Green in the late summer and early autumn of 1914. When John enlisted, he was recorded as a resident of Watford, not far from Leverstock Green. His medal card shows he landed in France on the 27th April 1915, and proceeded to join his battalion.

The Regiment proceeded to France on the 3rd of November 1914, landing at Le Havre to join 18th Brigade, 6th Division. On the 10th of February 1916 they transferred to the newly reformed 169th Brigade, 56th (London) Division which concentrated in the Hallencourt area. In 1916 they were in action on The Somme taking part in the diversionary attack at Gommecourt on the 1st of July. The Gommecourt 'diversion' was a costly and fatally flawed failure for which 2,206 men paid the ultimate price. John was killed in action on 1 July 1916.

He is remembered with honour as one of the missing of the Somme on the Thiepval Memorial. He is commemorated on the St Matthew’s Church memorial in Oxhey and his death was recorded in the St Matthew’s Parish Magazine. He is also recorded on the Woodbridge School 1914 - 1918 War Memorial.

Additional Information

The value of his effects were £4-3s-5d, Pay Owing which went to his mother Ellen and £8-10s-0d War Gratuity which went to his Father Frederick.

Unfortunately, John’s Service Record appears to be one that did not survive the World War Two bombing.


Stuart Osborne
Dianne Payne -, Jonty Wild, Sue Carter (Research) and Watford Museum (ROH on line via