A Great War Dudbridge to Woolwich Pilgrimage

Private Henry John Lusty Date of Death: 08/07/1916 Age: 36

Regiment/Service: Army Ordnance Corps

Grave Reference: F. 600. Cemetery: WOOLWICH CEMETERY

Additional Information:

Son of John and Sarah Lusty; husband of Florence Lusty, of Meadow End, Dudbridge, Stroud, Glos. Born at Stroud.

I, do make Oath, that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to His Majesty King George the Fifth, His Heirs, and Successors, and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend His Majesty, His Heirs, and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity, against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of His Majesty, His Heirs and Successors, and of the Generals and Officers set over me.

So help me God.

It was like something out of A.S. Byatt
or Marina Warner
or Our Mutual Friend:
The names on the war memorial in Rodborough Church included LUSTY H. G.
They were a wall unto us both by night and by day),
Yet when I went to my notes of the war dead
taken from the Rodborough Commoner,
there was no mention anywhere of LUSTY that I could see,
And it is a name I know well –
My gran lived next door to a Mr. and Mrs. Lusty
in Leonard Stanley in the 1960’s:
Mr. Lusty was a figure from another age,
My brother and myself thought he had fought in the Boer War,
Not the Great War – the name Lusty appears
on the village war memorial –
But my Granny Butler (nee Bingham) would have known
LUSTY H. J. too – she lived near the canal in Cainscross,
And he was just around the corner at Meadow End, Dudbridge.

My gran grew quite fat in later life –
My brother and myself were told by my mum that women
of my gran’s generation had eaten lots of cream cakes
to console themselves for the lost generation of their menfolk,
But I would sit with gran in the late 1950s,
While she would late night poke the soot
and as the sparks flashed and then died,
She would look at me, and plaintively sing to me:
“Old soldiers never die, they only fade away.”

Stroud News 14th July 1916

Dudbridge Recruit’s Suicide at Woolwich

An inquest was held at Woolwich, London, on Monday morning, touching the death of Henry John Lusty, a brickworker, of Meadow End, Dudbridge.

The widow identified the body, and said her husband left home on Friday morning, he having received notice to report himself at Bristol for the purpose of joining the Army. Witness last saw him alive at Dudbridge Station, when he left for Bristol, appearing quite cheerful. He had lately suffered from influenza and only resumed work a fortnight ago. The blood-stained knife produced belonged to her husband.

Robert Curley, a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery, stationed at Woolwich deposed to finding the deceased man’s body lying against a tree on Green Hill Slopes, near the Royal Artillery Barracks. There was a wound in the throat and the man held a knife (produced) in his right hand.

It was stated that the deceased should have reported himself at the Royal Ordnance Corps, Woolwich, having been passed for garrison duty, the day before he was found with his knife cut.

The jury returned a verdict of “Suicide during temporary insanity.”

(With thanks to Chas Townley for pointing me in the direction of this story and starting me off; and to Bonzo the bike-man legend for directing me to Meadow End; I have resolved to take a remembrance cross up to Private Lusty’s gravestone at Woolwich either this year or early next. I might etch a few lines from Sassoon or Owen on to the cross, too.)