Westminster Councillors in the First World War

by Peter Daniel and Adrian Autton
Captain Harry Robert Sauve Pulman (HU 117253) Captain Harry Robert Sauve Pulman MID. Unit: 3rd Battalion (City of London), London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers). Death: 10 March 1915 Western Front Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205387424
Imperial War Museum HU 117253
Pulman's grave, Royal Irish Rifles graveyard Laventie, France
The War Graves Photographic Project
The former Westminster City Hall Charing Cross Road.
Peter Daniel

Westminster Archives were able to discover the names of councillors who served in the armed forces during the First World War by reviewing minutes written between 1914-18.  They are as follows:

Captain H F Basset

2nd Battalion Queen’s Westminster Rifles

J F C Bennett

London Rifle Brigade

Commander Kennett H Dixon

Royal Navy

H Dutch

Royal Medical Corps

Lt-Commander Edwards

Served in the Royal Naval Reserve and was injured on a number of occasions, including the loss of an eye.

Edward P Harrington

Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Major Stanley Low

Queen’s Westminster Rifles

Wounded in action in 1915 when a fragment of a 7lb shell from a trench mortar went into his chest, missing the jugular vein.

Alderman H Lyon

Army Service Corps, Cavalry Supply Column

W L Phillips

Joined the Artists Rifles Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.) on 1 Mar 1916

Captain Harry Robert Suave Pulman

Harry was born in Marylebone in 1868 and was educated at Archbishop Tenison’s School where he excelled at cricket. At the age of 17 he joined the family printing firm of George Pulman and Son Limited rising through the firm to become Managing Director. He became a member of Westminster City Council and was granted the Freedom of the City of London on 14th November 1911.

Harry was a long serving territorial soldier with 25 years service, for which he was given the Long Service Medal and the King’s Coronation Medal. In September, 1906, he attained the rank of Captain when he joined the Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry as a territorial officer.

Councillor Harry Pulman was first elected to Westminster Council for Regent’s Park but in 1912 was returned for the Pall Mall Ward. He served on a number of Committees notably Works Committee and Highways Committee.  He encouraged a number of Westminster Council employees to join him in the 3rd (City of London) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers when war broke out in August 1914.  He married his fiancée Rose Fordham that very same month.

Harry arrived in France in January 1915, where his battalion was tasked with supporting the Indian Garhwal Brigade at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. On 10th March, 1915 he was ordered to lead ‘A’ company to secure a house on the corner of the village which was thought to contain twelve Germans. He led his men towards it but to his horror discovered a whole German company, who were well armed with machine guns. Despite the overwhelming odds Captain Pulman led his men forward and died alongside twelve of his men. Through his bravery the remaining Fusiliers were able to drive the Germans out of their position and capture the house. Captain Harry Pulman was later mentioned in despatches for gallant and distinguished service in the field and a fellow officer wrote home about his heroics:

“In the afternoon we had three bayonet charges. In the first one, poor old Harry died like a hero. Shot in the shoulder he grabbed a rifle and continued to charge. Shot again in the forearm, he went on until a third stopped him for good. The bravest man I ever saw!”

 Pte James P Stephenson, who was killed during the same attack had been part of the Westminster Council Highways Department that Harry had once controlled as councillor. Another Council employee, Sergeant Pinnock, who served under Harry in ‘A’ Company was quoted in the council minutes describing the brave councillor’s last moments:

“The last thing that I saw of him he was waving his arm encouraging his men to charge”.

Two weeks after his death, on the morning of the 25th March 1915, a memorial service for Captain Harry Pulman was held at the church of St James, Piccadilly.  This was attended by the Mayor and members of the Council, who paid themselves for a brass memorial tablet to him subscribed for by members of the Council to be fixed to the wall of the Council Chamber in Charing Cross Road.  As with the main Westminster Council staff memorial this too has subsequently been lost.

Lieut-Colonel P R O A Sinner, D.S.O

He served with 9th Battalion Duke of Wellington West Riding Regiment. He was taken prisoner of war along with his entire headquarters staff on 25 Mar 1918.

E F Wyer

2nd Lieutenant in H.M General Service at the Base at Le Havre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This page was added on 30/03/2017.