Private Henry May

Service Army Service No. 16549
Rank Private
Regiment:Hampshire Regiment, 2nd Battalion
Date of Birth: 1886
Born Thorverton
Date of Death: 22/05/1917
Memorial: Dawlish Memorial Inscription MAY.H. PTE. HANTS.REGT

Service History

Henry enlisted at Exeter from his residence in Dawlish. One record shows that he was first with the Royal Garrison Artillery, Private 53432. He was transferred to the Hampshire Regiment.

The fact that Henry is shown on the Arras Memorial suggests that he died during the Battle of Arras in the April – May actions. An account is given in the Dawlish Gazette (see Documents, below).

Association with Dawlish

Henry May was from a family long established in Thorverton, part of the Tiverton registration district. His father, William, was born there ca.1832 and died in the district in 1905 aged 73. William was a Master Mason and married Emma Western (1838-1906) ca 1858. They had nine children; Emily (1859- ), Louisa (1861- ), Henry (1864- ), William (1866- ), Tom (1870- ), Walter (1872- ), Eva (1878- ), Alice (1882- ) and Henry (1886-1917).

In 1871 they were living at Silver Street, Thorverton; in 1891 they were at Brooke Terrace, in 1901 at Buller Street where William (Senior) is shown as retired, Tom is a stonemason, Walter is a wheelwright and Henry/Harry is a carpenter's apprentice.
Henry's parents died in 1905 and 1906 and in 1908 he married Florence Sweet. Henry and Florence married in Q4, 1908 in Exeter.

Florence (b.Cullompton ca.1886) was a daughter of Julia Sweet , a widow in 1891.

In the 1911 census Henry May, 24, and Florence have two children Albert, 3 and Beatrice, 1, both recorded as being born in Exeter and they are living with Henry’s mother-in-law Julia Sweet, 69 at No 4 Crown Court, Exeter. Henry is a bricklayer. At the time of his death there were four children (see Dawlish Gazette report in Documents, below).

It is possible that Henry and Florence moved their family to Dawlish because of his work as a bricklayer.

Devon Roll of Honour May, Herbert. Pte, Hants Regt, no date or place shown.
Additional Information Commonwealth War Graves Site

Next of Kin: Florence May, wife. His widow received the Death Grant of £7. 5s. 8d. And a War Gratuity of £11. 10s. 0d.
Last Known Address: Chapel Street, Dawlish

Hampshire Regiment cap badge

Free Birth Marriage Death records

Dawlish Gazette, 2 June 1917

Refs via subscription sites:

Census records

Forces War Records – Killed in Action, France

UK, Soldiers died in the Great War, 1914-1919

UK, Service Medal and Award Rolls, awarded British War Medal and Victory Medal, and 1914-15 Star

UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects

Matthews Family Tree