Published By Joan Zorn
Edward Farmer was born in December 1883 in Oswestry, the second child of Alfred and Eliza (nee Wilde). Florence was the eldest, then Edward, followed by William, Nellie and Elizabeth born in 1897; the same year their father Alfred died. He had been a tinsmith. Edward was brought up living at 3 Beatrice Place, Albert Road but by 1901 Eliza, his widowed mother, had moved the family to 6 Cripplegate. Eliza died later in 1901 and the family split up: Nellie and William went to live with maternal grand parents at 13 Lorne Street: Elizabeth was adopted and went to live in Ribbleton, Lancashire. Brother William, in 1911, was living and working as an ‘Under Boots’ at the Wynnstay Hotel. His employer, Charles Drew, was father of Lieutenant George M Drew, RNR and one of Edward’s work colleagues was Private 22116 Frederick Johnson.
Edward married Gertie Coleman in 1906 and they went to live at 2 Castle Place, Chapel Street, Oswestry. They would have three children with two surviving – James, born in 1908 and Arthur, born in 1910. Edward had worked at the railway sheds as an iron moulder but by 1911 was employed as a carter for a mineral water business. At this time he had joined the Territorials in 4 Bn KSLI. At the outbreak of war the battalion was mobilised and would be posted to India. Edward, however, did not go with them and, on 28 October 1915, the day they left, he was discharged.
This was because he was suffering from Pulmonary, as recorded on his death certificate. The disease was presumably detected during medical examinations prior to going to India. It might also be the reason for his job change from the fumes and dust of the iron foundry to the outdoors and fresh air of a carter. The two same dates, for his discharge and the departure of the battalion to India, seem more to do with army bureaucracy rather than a coincidence. It was a natural date to formalise his discharge, which had actually occurred earlier – a case of ‘clearing up the paperwork before leaving for India’. He would die six months later on 19 April 1915.
Edward was buried on 23 April 1915 in a private grave (F 326) at Oswestry Cemetery and is not listed as a war casualty on CWGC. This is either an oversight or he did not qualify because he had been discharged and his ‘health condition’ was not attributable to war service. Enquires are pending with CWGC.
There are also two possible cases of cross infections – in 1911 he was living in the same neighbourhood as Private 22129 Ernest R Desborough and as Corporal 1590 Rowland Evans and with whom he also served in 4 Bn KSLI. Both men died from from TB and are buried at Oswestry.