My First World War soldier is my great-great uncle. Although he is not a blood relation, he came to have a big impact on my family and is remembered with great fondness by my father. Albert Ernest Tarrant married my great-great aunt Elizabeth Anstey in Southampton 1916. In 1915 my grandmother was orphaned at the age of 8 – her father died in 1912 as a result of the sinking of Titanic and her mother in 1915 of tuberculosis, shortly after the death of her sister from diphtheria. She was taken in by her Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Albert, who lived at 5 School Road, Totton, a suburb of Southampton.
Albert Tarrant was born in 1878. In 1898 he enlisted in the army and saw action in the Second Boer War (1899-1902) as a Gunner in the 8th Battery, Royal Field Artillery. Albert was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps for Cape Colony and Orange Free State. He remained in the army, keeping his number 28281 but transferred to ‘A’ Battery, Royal Horse Artillery, and was posted to India. ‘A’ Battery, known as The Chestnut Troop, was the senior battery within the whole of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.
At the outbreak of the First World War they were stationed in Ambala, India and left Bombay on 16th October on the SS Itria, arriving in Marseilles on 10 November 1914. On 8th December, with 170 men and 120 horses they travelled by train and saw action for the first time on 20th December at Givenchy, before replacing a section of 73rd battery at Pont Fixe on 23rd December.