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Henry Bellwood BANKS (1892-1918)

Known As
Corporal Banks
Biographical Details

Corporal Henry Bellwood Banks (1892-1918) was a fellow soldier with George Sladden in the 1/15th Battalion London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles).

Henry Banks was born at South Norwood in 1893, the younger of two children of Henry Bellwood Banks and his wife, Emily Selina (née Jordan).  Henry was baptized on 26th September 1893 at Holy Trinity, Selhurst.  The family lived at 1 Farnley Road, South Norwood.

Henry’s mother died in 1906 when he was 13 and his father died two years later.  In 1911, 18-year-old Henry was working as a railway clerk (foreign) at the Central Argentine Railway Board and living with his widowed aunt, Florence Briggs, at 21 Farnley Road, South Norwood.

As a Lance-Corporal (1579), Henry Banks arrived in France on 17th March 1915, at the same time as George Sladden.  They worked closely together in the transport section.  In a letter of 28th November 1916, George wrote to his sister, Kathleen, describing a typical day, and said this of his colleague:  “The distribution of the feeds is done by the senior Corporal, Banks.  He is a jolly good man, very like Cyril and his thorough way of doing things.”

The Civil Service Rifles were caught up in the Spring Offensive of 1918.  Having come through a particularly torrid time, George wrote to his father on 24th May 1918 saying that “… a very casual spasm of shelling robbed me of my senior corporal, Banks, a very good pal and an absolute right-hand man.  He is very badly wounded and has had to have a leg amputated.  The latest news we had of him before he was evacuated to the Base was that he was probably out of danger; which is one comfort anyway.  We shall miss him very much: he was one of my mess of four which had remained intact, with such remarkable good luck, for two years.  One feels keenly the break-up of such an old-standing association.”

But Corporal Banks (530132) did not recover and, at the time that George wrote his letter, he was already dead.  He died of wounds on 22nd May 1918 at No 4 Casualty Clearing Station, France, and was buried at Pernois British Cemetery, Halloy Les-Pernois.  Probate of his will was granted to his sister, Eva Bellwood Handley, who had just married.

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