The double tragedy in war suffered by a wife and mother

WE WILL REMEMBER THEM: Remembrance Sunday is given over for the public to reflect on the sacrifices made by others. Here, from the roll of honour at the Minster, DAVID MORGAN recalls the lives, and deaths, of two generations of one Croydon family

Henry Dunham signed up with the East Surreys, and was killed just 14 weeks after being sent to the front

The Dunham family lived in Grove Cottage, St John’s Grove, what is now called Rectory Grove. At Croydon Parish Church, as it was then known, in late 1899, Henry married Sarah Elizabeth Burton, a widow with two children.

By the time of the 1901 census, there were two Dunham families living in separate households in the same road. One was Henry (senior) and his wife Georgina, the other Henry and his new wife and family.

Both father and son worked for an ironmonger’s business. At some point before the 1911 census, Henry (senior) and his wife moved to Tonbridge in Kent, while their son and his family remained in Croydon.

When war was declared in 1914, Henry didn’t wait long to sign up. He joined the East Surrey Regiment on September 11, with a service number of 536.

He was soon promoted to sergeant and transferred from the 3rd to the 7th Battalion. On December 1, 1915, he sailed for France.

He lasted just a few months in the front line, being killed in action on March 12 1916 at Vermelles. He was 42.

He was initially buried at Hulloch, but subsequent fighting destroyed this site. Sergeant Dunham’s name is remembered on the Loos Memorial in Belgium.

Sarah, now widowed twice, was to endure further heartache before the war was over. Her son Albert Burton, from her first marriage, also died. A former Whitgift pupil who was born in May 1892, he had served almost continuously through the conflict with the Queen’s Westminster Rifles (16th London Regiment) until he was taken prisoner in March 1918.

Albert Burton died of pneumonia and heart failure whilst a prisoner of war at Le Quesnoy on July 26, 1918. He was 26.

Read more: ‘For gallantry’: Croydon hero who died at Passchendaele
Read more: The brothers in arms who lost their lives at Ypres and Gallipoli
Read more: The tale of a Croydon private’s life, and death, on the Somme
Read more: How ‘chums’ and Contemptibles set standards at the Minster

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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