Bertie George King Is Killed At Neuve Chapelle: by Win Bourne

bertie 001

Killed in Action  aged 27 at Neuve Chapelle.
Listed on Panel 44 at La Touret Memorial, France

Bertie was born in 1890, the only son of Alfred G King and his wife Elizabeth (known as Kate) nee Aslett. They had a daughter Dorothy who was just a year old when Bertie made his appearance. The family lived in Newbury Street, Whitchurch and his Dad was a bricklayer. Kate gave birth to two more   daughters, Ethel in 1892 and Alice Daisy in 1893.

Sadly, within the following few years, baby Ethel perished and then both parents passed away, so the three children were separated and raised by various family members in Whitchurch.

Eleven-year-old Bertie lived with his paternal grandmother of 72, Emma King (who was a laundress), and his Uncle John, a bricklayer’s labourer, in Newbury Street. Both 13-year-old Dorothy (known as Dolly) and sister Alice Daisy (aged 7) were looked after by their maternal grandparents, George and Mary Aslett in London Street, along with their cousin Albert Edward Aslett, who was also 7 years old. So the siblings at least remained within easy walking distance of each other.

Ern + Emily King (RHS) at cress beds

Ernest and Emily King at watercress beds in 1920s, from SMB history CD

Granddad George worked on the watercress beds in what came to be a family tradition.As they grew up, the girls continued to live and work in Whitchurch, while Bertie began working at the watercress beds in Hurstbourne Priors, lodging with the Redman family in rooms, part of the house called Crystal Abbey, on the opposite side of the road in the 1911 census. (Was the name a joking reference to the Crystal Palace?)

Crystal Abbey

Extract from 1936 sale map of part of the Portsmouth Estate. Courtesy Hampshire Record Office 15M84/3/1/4/6

At the onset of war Bertie went to Winchester where he enlisted as a rifleman in the 2nd Battalion. Rifle Brigade. His regiment took part in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle which began on the 10th March 1915 when he sustained fatal injuries.

His sisters looked in disbelief at the cold facts of his listed possessions, the last bit of paper summoning up the way officialdom looked at him:

Personal effects Bertie George King

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