Chatteris WW1 Soldier Harold Clarke Fletcher Report of Funeral, Cambridgeshire Times, August 6th 1915
Military Funeral At Chatteris Internment of the Late Pte Fletcher The funeral of Pte H C Fletcher whose sudden death at Turvey, Beds, we recorded last week took place on Friday. The remains were taken from Turvey to Bedford on Thursday evening, and on Friday morning they were conveyed to the L and NW Station, accompanied by a large number of officers and men of the Beds Yeomanry. The coffin, which was covered with a Union Jack, was borne on a gun carriage. A party, under the command of Second-Lieut. Leek accompanied the coffin to Chatteris. The Parish Church was crowded with a representative congregation. The procession form the house to the Church was preceded by soldiers with arms reversed, and at the entrance they stood with arms at the present. As the cortege wended its way along the front drive members of the Volunteer Training Corps, who were lined up on either side, saluted the coffin. The same procedure was carried out after the service. Six of the deceased’s comrades acted as bearers. Along the route the shops were closed and blinds were drawn at the private residences. At certain points the streets were well nigh impassable. The scholar’s at New Road Girls School were lined up alongside the pavement to watch the procession pass. Amongst those present were Mr D Fletcher (father), Miss F Sears (fiancée), Messers W H Fletcher, Geo Fletcher, Herbert Fletcher, Frank Fletcher (brothers), Miss A Fletcher, Mrs A Young, Mrs Melles (sisters), Mrs W H Fletcher and Mrs H Fletcher (sisters in law), Mr A Young and Mr E Melles (brothers in law) and Miss A Sears. In addition to the soldiers and members of the Volunteer Training Corps there were present Boy Scouts, several prominent members of the Town Cricket Club and of St Peter’s C.F.M.S and many others. The service was fully choral, the officiating clergy being the Vicar (Rev. H.F. Bagshaw) and the Rev H.M. Neice. The cassock and surplice belonging to the deceased was laid across the choir stalls against the part where he used to sit. The hymn “Abide With ME” was feelingly sung and at the close of the service Mr Mansell played the Dead March in Saul. The internment took place at the Parochial Cemetery. After the committal portion of the service the troops fired three volleys over the grave and the Last Post was sounded. Over an hour elapsed while the large crowd melted away. The coffin was of polished elm and had brass fittings. The breast plate bore the inscription “Harold C Fletcher died July 28th 1915, aged 27 years”. (Long list of dedications not transcribed) The Coroner was apprised of the circumstances of his death, but an inquest was not deemed necessary in view of the fact that recently three doctors had examined him and much to his regret had pronounced him unfit for foreign service. He was about to be transferred to the home service squadron as he had been under treatment for heart weakness. Deceased was the typist in the orderly room and on the morning of his death was at his duties as usual. At the time he fell and expired he was in the act of writing a letter. The parent of the Late Pte Fletcher have received shoals of letters of sympathy in their sad and sudden loss. Deceased was always of a cheerful nature and a general favourite with all whom he came in contact. Amongst the letters is from Lieut Col P wood of his Regiment, who expresses his sincere sympathy with the parents in the loss of their son. He adds “It will perhaps be of some small consolation to you in your grief to know that your son must have died, as few people can hope to do, without pain. Illness or apprehension. I am also very sorry for the girl to whom he was about to be married. The death of your son is a loss to the Regiment and I feel very sorry indeed for you and the girl”. Lieut-Col Wood speaking of the duties of the deceased says he was a most useful man to C Squadron and was an honour to the Regiment.
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