Lewis was one of eight children of Walter Henry and Sarah Ashby. Walter Henry Ashby was a General Labourer who had lived at Leavesden, Troley Bottom and by 1911 was living at 70 Adrian Road. Lewis was born in St Albans, but moved to Troley Bottom early in his life, and in the 1911 Census he was registered living with his brother in law, William Chandler, at 22 Adrian Road, Abbots Langley, working as a Jobbing Gardner.
He volunteered in 1915, and after a period of training he was sent to the Western Front the following year. Lewis was first recorded in the Abbots Langley Parish Magazine Roll of Honour in April 1916, listed serving with the 3rd Bedfordshire’s. It is not known if he moved to France with the Bedfordshire Regiment, or when he went, however by January 1917 the Roll of Honour indicated that he was serving with the 6th Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment.
Lewis was recorded “Killed in Action” on 17th February 1917, serving with the 6th Northamptonshire Battalion. The Battle of the Somme ground to a halt in the autumn rains and mud of 1916, and after a bitterly cold winter the British Army re-started the offensive in February 1917. The 6th Northampton’s took part in the 2nd Division’s plan to pressurise the German salient at Serre. Together with the 11th Royal Fusiliers the Northampton’s attacked Boom Ravine, near the village of Miraumont. The Northampton’s were in position at 04.30, but suffered many casualties from heavy shelling whilst they waited for “Zero Hour”. When the attack started at 05.45, the men slipped and slid over frozen ground. On reaching the enemy lines they found that the wire was largely uncut, and the men of the Northamptonshire’s were raked by machine gun fire and trench mortars. Lewis was killed during this action, which also took the life of Albert Sage (also 6th Northampton’s) from Abbots Langley. Albert was wounded and died later.
Lewis’ death was recorded in the March 1917 edition of the Abbots Langley Parish Magazine
“Just as we go to press news come of the death of Lewis Ashby, of the Northants Regiment, who was killed in action in France on February 17th. This is the second son whom Mr and Mrs Ashby have lost, and they will receive the sympathy of all.”
Two of Lewis’ brothers served in the Great War. Walter Henry survived, but Thomas Ashby died of wounds in a Paris hospital in September 1914, having been wounded in the retreat from Mons. His uncle, Albert Ashby served with the Royal Army Medical Corps, and survived the War, however, his brother in law, Percy Cox was Killed in Action during the Zeebrugge Raid in April 1918..
The National Roll of Honour, published after the War, gave his address as 86 Breakspeare Road Abbots Langley.
Lewis Ashby was buried in Regina Trench Cemetery, Grandcourt, Somme and was commemorated on the Abbots Langley War Memorial.