Henry Alfred Collins (1883-1916)
Labourer, Richmond Park
Henry Alfred Collins was born on 25 February 1883 to William, a labourer, and Emily Collins of Mortlake. In 1901 the family, including their five children, were living at Hampton Square in Mortlake and Henry, then aged 18, was working as a carter. On 25 December 1902 Henry married Emily Edith Harwood in the parish church in Mortlake. In 1911 he was living in Waldeck Cottage, Waldeck Terrace, Mortlake with his wife and two children. At that time, he was employed as a carter for the Office of Works at Richmond Park. By the beginning of the war Henry and Emily had three children; Henry, William and Alfred.
Henry volunteered for the army, aged 31, on 25 August 1914 at Richmond, Surrey. By the end of the month he had been transferred to the Southern Cavalry Depot in Bristol and then at the beginning of September he was posted to the 9th Reserve Cavalry based at Shorncliffe in Kent. The following June in 1915, he had transferred to 5th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment and, by the end of the month, then on to its 2nd Battalion. Over the next year, Henry’s battalion took part in several major battles. One of those was the attempt on 1 July 1916 to capture Ovillers, which was part of the Battle of Albert, the first phase of the Somme battles. On 23 October 1916 at 2.30 pm Henry’s battalion attacked the German held Spectrum Trench, near Lesboeuf. The battalion’s war diary states that the attack was “entirely successful” and the Brigadier complimented them on their success. Casualties in the battalion that day numbered three officers and 62 other ranks killed and 47 missing.
On that day, Henry was presumed killed in action; his body was not found and his name is carved into the Thiepval Memorial; pier 12D and face 13B.