CARTER, Bishops Stortford, died 1919

July, 2006

Terry Carter (ecskiing @t of  Arlington Heights, IL USA, writes  I have through Commonwealth War Grave Commission Robert John Carter. Private. 202369.Gloucestershire Reg 2nd/5th Bn.  secondary reg Hertfordshire Reg. Age 23. He was son of George and Martha Carter, of 11 Rye Steet, Bishops Stortford, Herts, and buried in Bishops Stortford old cemetery A. 14 20   18-02-1919. This is my fathers older brother. My question is,  What caused his death? Is there a hospital report somewhere? An obituary in a local newspaper at that time? Where else might I find the answer? 

Your starting point should be to purchase online Robert's death certificate which should give place and cause of death, and who reported the death (maybe the Coroner). I have not seen any certificates of soldiers who died in England after the conflict so have no idea how much detail was normally given - for instance it may be no more than "died of wounds". (It is even possible that he died of the flu pandemic which was killing millions in Europe at about this time.)

For most people there is little chance of a useful obituary in the local newspaper - but if there was a military funeral of a local hero there could have been something. A check in the British Library catalogue suggests the most likely paper is The Herts and Essex Observer. It appears not to have been microfilmed. There will be bound copies in the British Library at Collingdale - and there may be bound copies in the Bishops Stortford public library (contact information via Herts County Council web site) or HALS. As the paper is still being published the newspaper office may also be able to help and this could be your best bet - as some local papers encourage "heritage" correspondence and queries.

The death certificate and/or any newspaper obituary might indicate when and where Robert sustained injuries and, assuming he was seconded to the Hertfordshire Regiment at the time, the book The Hertfordshire Regiment could provide some background information. If you find out when and where he was injured the manuscript war dairy for the relevant units (in the Public Records Office) might give details as to what was happening on the day - and may even list his as a casualty. A visit to the National Archives website could suggest other military records that could help.

Normal hospital records from this period have rarely survived but if he died in a military hospital there may be manuscript records in the Public Records Office. 

Many people are interested in commemorating war heroes (see for example War memorials and Rolls of Honour) and someone (perhaps a local history society) may have done something for Bishops Stortford. HALS. the local public library or the museum might be able to help

As you will realise from the above many of the records are not online, and some are only available to personal callers. their agents, or for a "search charge".

August, 2006

Terry Carter (ecskiing @t writes: I asked you about a relative of mine who died and was buried in Bishops Stortford in 1919. I have since found out. My old school friend was in London researching his own relatives, without any luck. So, he picked up a copy of the Herts & Essex Observer Dated 22nd Feb 1919. In the obituaries he found headlined "Soldier's Sad Death", Robert John Carter Glos Regt., son of George & Martha Carter, 11 Rye Street Bishops Stortford; who was only demobilised a fortnight ago. After serving almost 3 years in France died on Tuesday in Bishops Stortford hospital from Pneumonia, age 22. What a sad ending after what he must have gone through. Thanks for posting my enquiry.

Delighted that the local paper turned up trumps. It could well be that Robert was a victim of the influenza epidemic which was sweeping Europe at the time and which is said to have killed more people than did the Great War. It may be that soldiers who had some slight lung damage due to poison gas were more susceptible, but everyone was vulnerable and my Mother, who was 11 at the time, remembered the death of a three year old girl she knew well.

There is a web page for Bishops Stortford

If you can add to the information given above tell me.


Page updated August 2006