William Humphrey Cole Cornish Silver (Ha. 1895-96)


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Second Lieutenant, Royal Sussex Regiment
Born: July 24th 1881
Died: June 8th 1918

Age at Death: 36

Killed in action, nr. Cambrai, France, June 8th 1918.
Son of Col. H. A. Silver.
Mistakenly identified as his brother Hugh Christopher Cole Cornish Silver on the 1920 Roll of Honour.
H.C.C.C. Silver (BC reg 2784).

A donation to the memorial statue has been made in honour of this soldier by Maurice and Katie Gale.

Obituary, Brightonian XVI December, 1918
W.H.C.C. Silver entered the College in 1895, and left in 1896. In September, 1914, he joined the Yeomanry as a trooper, and in 1915 went out with his regiment to Gallipoli, being present at the evacuation of the Peninsula. He was then stationed in Egypt, where he was made a Corporal, and was engaged on patrol duty on the banks of the Suez Canal.  In the latter part of 1916 his regiment was transferred to the Western front, and he was posted at Sollum. Returning to England to take up a commission, he was attached to a Cavalry Cadet Corps. When he had finished his course of training he was gazetted to the Royal Sussex Regiment, and, proceeding to the front last April, was killed on June 8th, aged 34.  His company commander writes of him:- "Although your son had only been with us a short time he was universally popular in a quiet way, and every one is very sad at his going. Personally, I have lost a good friend and a most gallant officer.  Your son was about the coolest man under fire that I have ever seen, and when a 'strafe' was on there was no one whom I liked better to have beside me. He was consistently cheerful, and a most willing worker.  On one occasion, after fourteen continuous hours' trench duty, he voluntarily did another five hours to relieve another officer who was not well. Although he was about six years my senior, he took orders from me without question, or comment, and, altogether, one could not wish for a better officer."

William Humphrey Silver
William Silver was born in September 1883 in Chiselhurst, Kent one of three children of Hugh Adams Silver by his second wife Anne Cornish (née Daniels). He had a further 12 elder half-siblings by his father’s first marriage to Annie Ellen Daniels (who died in 1876). Silver’s father was a successful businessman and heir to the Silver Clothing Company, which gave its name to Silvertown in London’s Docklands. The family lived in a five storey mansion in Abbey Lodge, Lubbock Road, and Chislehurst which was to become a convalescent hospital in during the First World War.

It appears that spent some of the 19 years between when he left school and the outbreak of World War One as a poultry farmer in Kent but, other than not following his father into business, his exact circumstances are unclear. On the outbreak of war Silver is listed as a private in the Queen’s own 1st West Kent Yeomanry, a territorial cavalry regiment which it is high likely that as a Kentish poultry farmer he would have been associated before the war as well. The West Kent yeomanry saw extensive service in the Eastern Mediterranean, both at Gallipoli and in the defence of the Suez Canal, and in February 1917 was converted into an infantry battalion as the 10th Battalion, East Kent Regiment (the ‘Buffs’), in the course of which Silver was promoted to Corporal.

The Battalion then took part in the invasion of Palestine, culminating in the capture of Jerusalem by British forces in December 1917. Shortly thereafter Silver transferred to the Sussex regiment and embarked on an officer training course, receiving his commission in April 1918 at the advanced age of 35. He was immediately posted to the Western Front, which he had hitherto managed to avoid, where the decisive battle of the war, the defeat of the German ‘Ludendorff Offensive’ was being fought. It was in the final stages of this climactic battle, on 8 June 1918, that Silver was killed while his new unit, the 2nd battalion Royal Sussex, was engaged in a trench raid in the Nouex Les Mines area.

Source: LEST WE FORGET PROJECT, Brighton College 2014/15

 

 

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