Samuel Spurr – so near and yet….

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Samuel Spurr, Lance Corporal 24867, 1st Leeds Pals

Samuel Spurr was born in Leeds on 5th January 1891, the third child of George William Spurr, initially a drayman and weaver, but later a warehouseman in a candle factory, who had married Matilda Whitaker in Hunslet four years earlier.  Samuel had an older sister, Selina, and an older brother, Thomas, and four younger sisters, Edith, Hilda, Lily and Irene.

When George and Matilda were first married they appear to have lived with his widowed mother, Susannah, his father Samuel having died some time after the 1881 Census.  Their address was 20 Houghton Street, Hunslet.  Samuel junior, presumably named after his grandfather, was born three months before the 1891 Census.

By the 1901 Census they had moved to 14 Kaye Street, still with mother, though she had died before 1911.  They were still at the same address in 1911, and Samuel, aged 20(sic), was now a packer in the candle factory, perhaps supervised by his father.

Although he was 23 when the war began Samuel does not appear to have joined up straight away.  His service records are missing, but his army number suggests late in 1916 or early 1917.  He was captured by the Germans at Courcelles on 27th March 1918, but he must have shown himself to be a good soldier as he had been promoted to lance corporal.  The German records show that he was unwounded when captured, but he may have been ill, as there is a suggestion that he was sent to hospital in Antwerp before being taken to a POW Camp.  By October of 1918 he was in the camp at Münster, and was presumably still there when the war ended.  He was repatriated fairly quickly, and was on his way home when he died, from pneumonia, in Rotterdam, on 28th December 1918.  Two notices ‘in memoriam’ appeared twelve months later in the Yorkshire Evening Post.  One was signed from his parents and sisters, the other from ‘loving brother and sister Tom and Amy’.  (There is a record of a Thomas Spurr marrying an Amy Thornton in 1912.)  The family address was by now 3 Water Hall, Leeds 5.

Samuel was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, but not the 1915 Star, which adds support to the idea of his not enlisting before 1916.  He is buried in The Hague General Cemetery, one of fifty-five Great War Graves in this cemetery.

Researcher: Peter Taylor and Jane Luxton

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
  • Please refer to our Glossary of Terms for further information on the terms and phrases used in this post.
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