382 Rifleman Henry Harry Trevetic, King's Royal Rifle Corps.
was supposedly born in Burton-on-Trent in early 1879, but no evidence of this
can be found in the 1881 census. His surname does not exist in any Census
returns & it is believed he assumed this name prior to enlisting. He joined
the 4th Battalion of the Worcester Regt. (Militia) in Birmingham 9/7/1897
as 4575 Private Henry Harry Trevetic. He stated his occupation as "Grocer",
his age as 18 years 3 months, Ht: 5' 5 ½", Wt: 7st. 8lbs, Chest:
32-34ins. 45 days later he enlisted in the King's Royal Rifle Corps at Worcester
23/8/1897. He declared his age to be 18 years 5 months, but judging from later
evidence he was likely only 16 years 5 months. He declared his trade as "Cycle
Fitter", Height: 5' 5 ¼" ; Weight: 8st. 8lbs. ; Chest: 33-35ins.
; Blue Eyes ; Dark Brown hair. His next-of-kin was given as his mother, S.
Trevetic & sister, also S. Trevetic, The Dog & Pheasant Inn, Fisher
St., Birmingham. It will be noted that apart from his profession/trade changing
from 'Grocer' to 'Cycle Fitter' within 45 days, he had also lost ¼"
in height but gained 1 stone in weight.
He joined the KRRC Depot at Gosport 24/8/1897 & was posted to the 3rd Battalion KRRC 23/11/1897.
On 22/12/1898 he was posted overseas to South Africa, joining the 1st Battalion KRRC shortly thereafter. During the Boer War, he took part in the actions at the "Relief of Ladysmith" & "Laing's Nek" together with service in the "Orange Free State" & "Transvaal". He later received the Queen's South Africa Medal with these four named clasps only, having been invalided to the UK sick 6/12/1900. After recovery from sickness in South Africa, he was posted to the Depot at Winchester 23/4/1901.
He married Miss Frances Boyes, a spinster, at the Register Office, Alverstoke, Southampton 23/12/1902 & took up residence with his new wife at 1, St.Swithins Villas, Cannon St., Winchester. He signed up "to complete 8 years with the colours" 1/4/1904, then signed for a further term "to complete 12 years with the colours" 2/9/1904. In December 1905 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion K.R.R.C. in India, returning to the UK in February 1909.
He was Re-engaged at Colchester to complete 21 years service 26/2/1909 & posted to 6th Battalion K.R.R.C. at Winchester 1/3/1909.
In January 1914 he became Officer's Servant (Batman) to Captain Geoffrey Makins MVO, at the Winchester Depot. It would appear that as part of his duties he was required to drive a motorcar, probably at Captain Makins' request & expense, & was issued a 2nd class Driving Certificate by the R.A.C. in June 1914.
On the outbreak
of war Rifleman Trevetic was still servant to Captain Makins at the Winchester
Depot, but it was not long before they received instructions to proceed to
France, embarking 26/8/14 & joining the 1st Battalion K.R.R.C. in bivouac
near Rebais 8/9/14, Captain Makins assuming command of "A" Company.
In the trenches North of Soupir 14/9/14, Captain Makins was badly wounded
(GSW R.thigh & L.hand) & Rifleman Trevetic accompanied him back to
the Dressing Station in the church at at Soupir. He remained with Captain
Makins through various hospitals in France until 27/11/14 when Captain Makins
was invalided to the UK, still accompanied by Rifleman Trevetic. On arrival
in the UK Rifleman Trevetic was posted back to the Winchester Depot.
Below are the tin & contents remaining from Trevetic's "Princess Mary's Xmas Gift" which he received at Winchester in December 1914.
In late February 1915, Captain Makins had made a full recovery & was posted as Acting Adjutant to the 5th Battalion K.R.R.C. at Fort Grain, Isle of Grain, Kent, 2nd March 1915, with Rifleman Trevetic still as his servant. The circumstances leading up to the death of Rifleman Trevetic are best told in the statements below transcribed from his service papers at the PRO (Class WO/363/T/1259):-
Enquiry at Fort Grain 11th March 1915:-
G. Makins Captain A/Adjt., 5th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps, states:-
"The deceased, No. 382, Rfn. H.H. Trevetic, became my servant in January 1914, on my being posted to the Rifle Depot, Winchester. On the outbreak of war, Rfn. Trevetic, accompanied me in August 1914, to join the 1st Battalion King's Royal Rifles, in France. On the 14th September, I was severely wounded, Rfn. Trevetic assisted to carry me from the firing line to the church at Soupir, where I remained for some days. This church was used as a dressing station, and the conditions were somewhat harrowing. There were, I believe, about 300 wounded, closely packed, occupying the floor space. The groans and the smell, night and day were most distressing. Fresh wounded were constantly being carried in and dead carried out. Shell fire was constant, and the general conditions were such as would severely try a highly strung man. During all this time, he was my only attendant. On my removal from Soupir Rfn. Trevetic accompanied me through various hospitals in France, until at the end of November 1914, I was invalided home. Being incapacitated in one hand, I received permission to bring Rfn. Trevetic to England with me.
On March 1st I was passed fit for General Service, and joined the 5th Battalion King's Royal Rifles, the following day, Rfn. Trevetic still accompanying me as servant. I was then under the impression that I might leave for the front at any moment, and warned Rfn. Trevetic to be prepared to accompany me. On March 9th he came to me and asked if I would see the doctor on his behalf privately. He told me that ever since his time with me in the dressing station at Soupir, his nerves had been ajar, and that he could neither eat nor sleep. He asked whether or not I could get the doctor to do something for him, as he feared if he went sick in the ordinary way, he would be passed unfit for the front, and be unable to accompany me there, which he was very keen on doing. Later in the day he came to me and asked me to take no notice of what he had said in the morning, that as a matter of fact he had taken to drink, which was the true cause of his trouble, and that he was entirely giving it up and would be right within a week. His whole manner was strange and he appeared under the impression that I had discharged him. This was the first intimation I had of any strangeness in his manner. Being busy I did not pay the attention to it that perhaps I should, more especially as I knew him to be a thoroughly sober and reliable man. The following day March 10th, he called me as usual. About 8.30a.m. I was called from the mess, and asked to proceed to my room at once. On arrival, I found the door locked, and various Officers' servants outside. The key was on the inside of the door but so turned that the body of Rfn. Trevetic could be seen through the Keyhole lying on the floor. I broke open the door and found Rfn. Trevetic shot through the heart, my revolver lying by his side. The revolver contained one empty shell, I cannot say where this was obtained. There were a few rounds of ammunition in the room, but the marks did not correspond, nor am I able to trace any similar ammunition in the Fort. The revolver was of service pattern and had not been loaded for some months.
Rfn. Trevetic had throughout his service to me been a model servant, and had during my time in hospital not only been invaluable to me, but also to the hospitals themselves. He was very happily married, and constantly spoke affectionately of his wife and as far as I can tell, was in no financial difficulties. He rarely asked for money, and when he did, was never refused".
Signed G. Makins Capt., K.R.Rifles.
No. 5097 Rfn. B. Donoghue, Bugler, on the permanent staff of the 5th Battalion King's Royal Rifles states:-
"I have known the deceased, Rfn. Trevetic, for the past four years. First, when he was in the regular establishment of the 6th Battalion King's Royal Rifles. I remember him coming to Fort Grain on the 2nd March 1915, as servant to Capt. Makins. On or about the 8th March, I noticed he was strange in his manner. He used to walk up and down the Officers' servants quarters, then go out and come back again, and do the same thing again, and all the time complaining of pains in his head and heart, and saying he would not go sick, for fear he might be prevented from going to the front with Capt. Makins, which he always said he was extremely anxious to do. I noticed the same symptoms on the 9th March, and he again complained about his heart and head, keeping his hand pressed to the latter, and also said he could not sleep or eat, which I had also noticed.
On the morning of March 10th I accompanied Capt. Makins to his room at 8.30a.m. when the door was forced open, and on entering the room, I saw the dead body of Rfn. Trevetic, with a revolver lying at his side. I never saw him with any revolver ammunition and have no idea where he obtained it.
As far as I know he lived happily with his wife and had no domestic or financial troubles.
I knew him to be a steady and sober character, and saw no signs of drink about him whatever, whilst he was here".
Signed Bugler B. Donoghue.
No. 2740 Rfn. T. Wilcock, permanent staff of the 5th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corp., Officer's Servant, states:-
"About March 8th 1915, I noticed that the deceased, Rfn. H.H. Trevetic was strange in his manner, and conversation, repeatedly going in and out of the room, and seemed excited. I also noticed that he was not sleeping or eating well. On the morning of March 10th I noticed he was absent from breakfast about 8.30a.m. I went to Capt. Makins' room to look for him. Finding the door locked I looked through the keyhole, and saw his body lying on the floor. I then went to the Officers' mess and called Capt. Makins, who came to his bedroom door and called Trevetic by name. Not receiving an answer, the door was burst open.
During the time Rfn. Trevetic was at Fort Grain, I knew him to be a sober character, happily married, and in no way in need of money".
Signed T. Wilcock Rfn.
Lt. E.L. Wall RAMC states:-
"I am the M.O. i/c of troops at Fort Grain and Slough. I remember the morning of March 10th 1915 when I was called to Capt. Makins' room where I saw the dead body of Rfn. H.H. Trevetic lying on the floor.
I examined him and found a bullet wound in the chest, over the region of the heart, evidently caused by a shot from a revolver, which was lying on the floor, almost underneath the deceased. The clothing was scorched, where the hole in the clothing corresponded with the wound in the chest, which was clearly self inflicted. Rfn. Trevetic had not reported sick to me.
I have read the previous evidence taken at this enquiry, and was also present at the inquest, and received a verbal statement from Capt. Makins, when he first called me to his room, and from this evidence, there is hardly any possibility of doubt that Rfn. Trevetic was temporarily insane, not only at the time he shot himself, but probably for some days previously. His mental condition was almost certainly caused by the fact that he had been under shell fire and subsequently was obliged to attend Capt. Makins under the horrible conditions necessarily obtaining in a first field dressing station."
Signed D.L. Wall, M.B., M.O. i/c Troops.
Having carefully considered the evidence we find that No.382 Rifleman H.H. Trevetic's death on the 10th March 1915 was caused by a self-inflicted wound on the same date.
We are unable to trace how or where he obtained the revolver cartridge which he used.
We further find that at the time he shot himself he was temporarily insane, and that his mental condition was clearly caused by what he saw and went through when on "Active Service" in France, and that there was no other contributory cause.
Signed T.W.M. Fuge, Major, 5/K.R.R. Corps, President.
Fort Grain 11th March 1915.
Members: H.F.E. Smith, Lieut. C.S. Egerton-Green, 2/Lieut.
Also contained in his service papers was this account of proceedings from the Police, which contains the same information but with one or two extra details:-
Kent County Constabulary
24th April 1915
Baldwin reports that on the 10th March 1915, Henry Trevitic [sic] no.382 King's
Royal Rifles (Rifleman), Grain Fort, shot himself with a revolver.
An inquest was held on the body on the 11th of March, when the following evidence was taken.
Makins* "Captain" 5th Battn. K.R.R. stationed at Grain identified
the body & stated. The deceased was 36 years of age & was married,
he had been my servant for the last 14 months, he had been with me at the
front in France & came home last November, he was not wounded, "I
was", he appeared to have very good health.
Last December he was sent to Winchester, after my discharge from hospital he rejoined me at Grain, he was a good servant, & did his duty very well.
On Tuesday he asked me to see a doctor for him as he did not want to go sick, his nerves were all wrong, he told me that the 10 days he was in the dressing station in France had upset him, he could neither eat nor sleep, he wanted to go to the front again with me, he thought I had discharged him & asked for another chance, as he wanted to put things right with his wife, as he had taken to drink & that was the cause of the trouble, & that he would give it up, his manner was very strange. I last saw him alive at 7a.m. on the 10th inst, about 8.20a.m. I was called from the Officers Mess to my room, the door was locked on the inside, deceased was lying on his back on the floor "dead", with a bullet wound in the left breast, my revolver was lying on the left side of the body, the revolver was kept on my service belt & contained one cartridge case which had been recently fired, he was quite dead, & there were no signs of a struggle, I think it was a self inflicted wound, we were both under orders for the front.
"Rifleman" of the K.R.R. states:-
I have known deceased for some time, he has not been well lately. He complained about pains under the heart. About 8.30a.m. I went to Captain Makins' room & found the door locked. I looked through the keyhole & saw deceased lying on the floor. I heard no report of firearms.
Medical Officer in charge of the troops states:-
About 8.30a.m. on the 10th inst. I was called to Captain Makins' room. I saw deceased lying on the floor dead, I examined the body & found that the left breast of the jacket was scorched & there was a hole in it & a wound corresponding with it over the heart, the revolver must have been held close to the body, there was only one wound, the bullet did not pass right through the body. Death must have been instantaneous, it was a self inflicted wound.
The jury after hearing the foregoing evidence returned the verdict:- Suicide whilst temporary [sic] insane.
Yours faithfully Superintendent W.E. Pratt [? fairly illegible signature]
*Captain Geoffrey Makins MVO MiD, born at 8 Palace Gate, London 30/12/1877, had served as a Lieut. with the 2nd Bn. K.R.R.C. during the Boer War & recieved the QSA with three clasps "Defence of Ladysmith", "Laing's Nek" & "Transvaal." He returned to France & was wounded 22/8/15 whilst serving with the 3rd Battalion K.R.R.C. & died of wounds the following day at the London (No.2) CCS at Merville. His brother, Captain Hugh Makins, 16th London Regt. (Queen's Westminster Rifles), was killed in France 4/11/15 & his other brother, Brig.Gen. Ernest Makins CB DSO survived to receive both his brothers' plaques & scrolls. He had five sisters & was the son of Henry Francis Makins (died 11/1/14) & Kezia Elizabeth Makins (died 15/10/18), of 180 Queen's Gate, London S.W.
Included in Trevetic's effects was the slip shown below, presumably to enable his widow to attend the funeral:-
He was buried in St. James' Churchyard on the Isle of Grain (exact date unknown).
Trevetic remarried at Kew, Surrey, in July 1917 another soldier, 7579 Sgt.
John Finch (Bachelor), also of the King's Royal Rifle Corps.
Sgt. Finch was an Irish lad, born at Enniskillean, Co.Fermanagh [sic] 24/6/1888 & enlisted in the K.R.R.C. in London 30/10/1906. He did not go overseas until 1916, when he embarked with the 21st Battalion K.R.R.C., was wounded in 1917 & returned to the UK. He was discharged 31/3/1920 having completed his period of engagement & was described as "Character, Exemplary, a very clean, smart, honest, reliable & trustworthy man". (Sgt. Finch's medals, Discharge Cert., Character Cert., marriage certificate & birth certificate were kept with Rifleman Trevetic's effects).
In May 1919 the first of Rifleman Trevetic's medals arrived by Registered Post, his 1914 Star (note the spelling error in his surname):-
Medal Index Card showing surname error & note of such.
Next to arrive was his Memorial Scroll in June 1920, his Bronze Memorial Plaque following in 1921:-
The Memorial Plaque claim form dated 4/3/1920 gives his only living next-of-kin as:- Widow, Mrs. Frances Finch, 52 Pond Cottages, Kew Green, Surrey ; & one Aunt by blood:- Mrs. M. Timmings, Prince of Wales, Coleshill St., Birmingham. Apparently they had no children in their 12 years of marriage (none who survived to 1920 anyway).
In September 1921 the remainder of his medal entitlement arrived, the British War Medal & Victory Medal, together with the Clasp to the 1914 Star:-
Medals to 382 Rfn. H.H. Trevetic K.R.R.C. (clasp to the 1914 Star missing)
The last of the artefacts kept by his widow was her copy of the CWGC Register, still contained in its original postal envelope, received in 1931:-
There are several points of interest arising from the CWGC Register:-
(1) Note that the address had changed to "28 Cambridge Cottages, Kew Green, Surrey", but the Register still showed her old address at "52 Pond Cottages, Kew Green, Surrey." This is easily explained. The "Final Verification Form" sent by the CWGC in the mid-1920's to retrieve the text they wished to be given in the CWGC Register was certainly completed giving her old address, which was current at that time. The CWGC had to have had her new address in order to post her the Register, but did not amend the Register accordingly. This proves the fact that the CWGC were not in the habit (quite sensibly so) of updating addresses in their Registers (unless by request).
(2) Note that in the Register text, Mrs. Finch has marked his entry with an "X" & altered her initial from "J" to "F". It is unfortunate that she never forwarded this alteration to the CWGC. Today the text reads exactly the same:- "Husband of J. Finch (formerly Trevetic) etc." It would appear she was unhappy with the initial "J" & would have preferred her own initial was used. It would probably have better read "Husband of Mrs. J. Finch (formerly Trevetic)", but "Mrs. F. Finch (formerly Trevetic)" would have been best, as she was never known as "Mrs. J. Trevetic" & her own initial would have been correct in both cases. [For real perfectionists it might have very-correctly read "Husband of Mrs. J. Finch (formerly Mrs. H.H. Trevetic)".] The practise of a wife using the husband's initial in her married name/title is rather old fashioned & is likely deplored by the current PC brigade anyway.
(3) Rifleman Trevetic is listed as "Harry" only, despite his full name being "Henry Harry" & having enlisted & served under his full name. His Memorial Plaque also gives his full name. From the Memorial Card (the first in the series of images above) it is obvious that he was known as "Harry" & his widow had these Cards produced with this name. It is presumed that she asked the CWGC to list him as "Harry" only.
Harry Trevetic apparently had no children during their 12 years of marriage (or they were deceased by 1920). When his widow completed the Plaque Claim Form in 1920, she stated that she & an Aunt were the only living relatives. There is nobody resident in the UK today with the surname "Trevetic" ; there is no trace of anyone with this surname in the 1881, 1891 or 1901 Census. It would appear that his name was adopted by him pre-1897 & died with him in 1915.
he gave his age as 18 years 3 months, which equates to him being born in 1879.
Capt. Makins also stated he was age 36 (born 1879), but the memorial card
& CWGC list him as age 34 (born 1881). Clearly his wife knew better &
produced the memorial card as age 34 & informed the CWGC he was age 34.
This, together with his absence from the 1881, 1891 & 1901 Census', indicate
that he was likely born in 1881 & later assumed the name "Trevetic"
for reasons unknown.
Mrs. Trevetic/Finch did an excellent job in preserving both her husbands' memorys.