Philip Mayne was the last surviving British officer from World War One to die. He died at the age of 107 years and 139 days at a care hostel in Richmond, North Yorkshire in 2007.
Philip’s war service was was brief and he never saw any action. However he was the last verteran to die who held the rank of officer.
This happened thanks to a cadetship into the Royal Engineers which meant he was fast-tracked to second lieutenant — the lowest officer rank — in September 1918 at the age of just 18. The war ended six weeks later and he was demobilised on Christmas Eve 1918 without having set foot in France. Following the war he studied at Cambridge and became an engineer.
With a birth date of 22 November 1899, Mr Mayne was alive in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. At his death he had three children, eight grandchildren and twenty-one great-grandchildren.
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Information submitted by Mrs Audrey Grundy. Joseph Whitell Bainbridge was born in 1896, his family ran Bainbridge’s Drapers Shop in Richmond Marketplace. Which occupied the building where Penley’s stands today. He was a territorial solider with the 4th battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment prior to the outbreak of the First World War and appears to have rejoined as a volunteer with the same battalion after the conflict started. Joseph arrived in France with the 4th battalion on 18 April 1915. His territorial regimental number (2370) was later revised to 200533. His war service led to the award of the 1915 Star, the British War medal and the Victory medal. Joseph’s older brother, Thomas Lawrence Bainbridge (also of the Yorkshire Regiment) was killed during the Battle of Arras on 23 April 1917. He had been awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field.
Submitted by Pam Reed – William was her first cousin once removed. William Billam was born Robert William Beckwith Earsdon in Jarrow on 17 September 1893. By 1906 his mother and stepfather Elizabeth and George Billam had moved to Hinderwell, 8 miles north of Whitby. In 1911 William was living with them and had taken his stepfather’s surname of Billam. In 1913 William married Ada Simpson and continued to live in the same village. On the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted on 15 August 1914 at Whitby as 12122 Private Billam in the 11th Reserve Cavalry Regiment. However on 1 November 1914 he was discharged as ‘being unlikely to make an efficient soldier’. Having failed to make the grade in the cavalry, he promptly volunteered for the infantry . At the end of 1914 he enlisted again at Whitby as 18687 Private Billam in the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. William was killed on 1st July 1916, first day of the Battle of the Somme. He was buried in the Dantzig Alley British Cemetary in Mametz along with 2052 other British soldiers. His name is on the Hinderwell War Memorial. He left a widow and 2 year old daughter. Extract from the Whitby Gazette Friday 18 August 1916 as follows:- Killed in action on July 1st. Private William Billam, aged 22 years. He was the first to enlist from Hinderwell on August 15th 1914. “His country called and he answered”
Researched by John Mills. Arnold was born on the 19th January 1896 in Harrogate Yorkshire. His Army career started with the 5th Lancers with which he went to France in August 1914. He was present at the Battles of the Aisne, Ypres, Somme 1916 and Arras 1917. He transferred to the Yorkshire Regiment on the 26th September 1917 and having gained a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant and joined the 2nd Battalion on the 18th January 1918. He was promoted Lieutenant 26th March 1919, Captain 16th November 1929, Major 1st August 1938 and Lieutenant Colonel 27th December 1943. He also served in Waziristan 1913-25 and with the Shanghai Defence Force 1930-31. Between 1933 and 1936 while serving in India he played 1st class cricket for the ‘Europeans’ team. During the Second World War he commanded the 1st Battalion, The Green Howards, 1941-43 and received a DSO on the 8th November 1943. He retired from the Army as Honorary Brigadier on the 30th December 1943. He had married Constance Smith on the 6th October 1917 when they were both just 21. On the 27th January 1949 they set sail from London on the P&O liner SS Matiana for a life in Kenya where Arnold joined the Nairobi police force. He was made Assistant Superintendant of Police on the 6th January 1950, becoming Senior Superintendant on the 1st January 1956. He was there during the early years of the Mau-Mau Rebellion. He died at Malton Yorkshire on the 13th November 1972.