Private Bassett honoured at last
- Credit: Archant
A memorial service to a long lost Exmouth serviceman will take place on Saturday, October 19 when his service to the country will finally be remembered when his name is added to Exmouth’s war memorial.
Jeff Trail the chairman of the Exmouth War and Flagpole Memorial committee takes up the tragic story of Exmouth resident Private Albert Bassett: “I was approached by Mrs H Rowsell, a resident of Exmouth, who wondered why her late husband’s uncle, Pte Albert Bassett, had not had his name inscribed upon the Exmouth War Memorial. Mrs Rowsell was unsure of what had happened to him during ‘The Great War’ and how he had died and asked for assistance.
“After a number of weeks of research, carried out by myself with the assistance of Mr Giles Guthrie, curator of The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) Museum located in Folkstone Kent, we were able to formulate a positive outcome. Pte Bassett’s family have now been informed that his name will be added to the Exmouth War Memorial”.
Pte Bassett, 241183, was a member of the Home Guard and Army Reserve (Exeter) at the time of WW1. He joined the regular Army on February 26, 1916, at the assumed age of 24. (Records may also assume he was aged 25 yrs 94 days).
Pte Bassett was allocated to a regiment, The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent), based in Maidstone. This regiment was made up of a number of Army Reserve Units. He was posted to 3rd/4th Battalion on September 12, 1917, and then moved to the 6th Battalion on September, 16, 1917 and joined, as a Lewis Gunner, on September 22 in France.
The Battalion were engaged in numerous battles between 1916 -1918 such as the Battle of the Somme, Ancre, Arras and Amiens to name but a few. The most important battle for Pte Bassett was CAMBRAI, France. This Battle took place in the great trenches on the British Front Line, which sadly suffered many substantial losses of life and casualties from both sides during the war.
Unfortunately for the 6th Queen’s Own Battalion, they suffered very high losses due to massive bombardments from the German artillery. It was during this stage that Pte Bassett was posted as missing in action on November 20, 1917.
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It was later reported, on January 16, 1918, that he had been taken as a prisoner of war and held captive in Parchim POW camp.
Sadly Pte Bassett caught pneumonia whilst he was in the Hut Hospital and died at 6am on December, 28 1918 aged 28. He is buried in Hamburg Cemetery.
Pte Albert Bassett was awarded the British War and Victory Medal which was presented in 1921 to his father, John Bassett, of 43 Fore Street, Exmouth.
After 98 years and in true British tradition the town of Exmouth has not forgotten the suffering of those who fought for our rights and freedom of today.
After consulting with the family and Exmouth Town Council it has been agreed that a memorial service, conducted by The Reverend Tudor Thomas-Botwood MBE from CTCRM, will be held within the Strand Gardens Exmouth on Saturday, October 19, at 11am. Here the unveiling of Pte Bassett’s name on the Exmouth War Memorial will also take place. Attending will be the Exmouth town Mayor Councillor John Humphreys, town councillors, family members, military associations and a Royal Marine bugler from CTCRM. Members of the public are also invited and encouraged to attend.