Plucky Ramsgate lads

Richard AbbottRichard Abbott

There were four brothers in the Abbott family who lived in St Luke’s Avenue.  William, Richard and Alfred were in the army and another brother was in the Navy.The following article appeared in the local paper at the end of September 1916.

Mr and Mrs W Abbott of 21 St Luke’s Avenue , Ramsgate are anxious regarding the safety of their boy, Pte Richard Abbott, of a service Battalion of the Buffs, who has been reported wounded and missing since August 18th. Coincident with the news of his disappearance is revealed a family war service record of an unusually interesting character. The missing soldier enlisted on November 5th, 1914, when he was only 17 years of age. Another son, Shoeing Smith A Abbott, of the RFA enlisted at the same age, but not to be outdone another son driver W Abbott, joined the forces at the age of 15. He is now sixteen years old, but has seen close upon 12 months service at the Front with his battery. At the beginning of August of this year, a surprise meeting at the Front took place between this plucky young Ramsgatonian and the brother who is now missing.The latter brother was unaware that his brother had enlisted, and was astounded at seeing him, under such conditions. Realising that he must have enlisted by giving his age as at least 19, he made efforts to ensure that he would be sent home, and the result is that the lad is now detained for home service.

Pte Abbott, the missing soldier, who was a battalion bomber, was well-known amongst the Ramsgate fishing community. A letter dated 4th October 1916 from Captain T. Stuart Overy of the 8th Buffs confirmed the family’s worst fears. He told Mrs Abbott that her son did not get back to the dressing station and as all the wounded had been collected after the attack on 18th August, and he had been reported as “being hit going over” the captain was afraid Robert must have been killed. He went on to say that they had lost “a fine soldier” who had been in “the Batallion Bombers, where only the best men were sent.” Robert is now among the thousands of names listed on the Thiepval memorial.

Alfred’s grandson Mel lives in Ramsgate.

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