Samuel Wells

Service number: 7745 | Rank: Private | Regiment: Norfolk Regiment

Died at sea, September 15, 1915, in Middle East.

Remembered at CHATBY MEMORIAL, Egypt.

Born and enlisted at Brandon.


In September 1908 Samuel was an 18-year-old Brandon-born labourer who walked into the Army Recruitment Office in Norwich and joined the Norfolk Regiment. His service record shows that he was slightly above average height for a Brandon lad, at 5-foot 8¾-inches, and also had “teeth somewhat defective”. He spent 2½ years in Britain before he left these shores for India, where he was a part of the Indian Expeditionary Force until November 1914. By all accounts he was a very respected individual. His service record states that he was awarded a 3rd Class Certificate of Education not long after joining up, and in 1914 he became an Acting-Bandsman, due to his proficiency at playing the clarinet. His service record also states that he was sober, honest and intelligent. At the time these were quite flattering remarks for a career soldier of the ranks.

Then in November 1914, along with the Norfolk Regiment, he was called to fight in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and it was here that Samuel contracted a tropical disease. He fell ill whilst on active service and suffered fever, severe weakness and muscle wastage in his legs, which may be contributed to him being bed ridden for so long. This lasted for a month or so until his condition deteriorated. On 9th August 1915, the Army medical authorities were very concerned about his welfare and so they arranged for him to be taken from his barracks in the Iraqi town of Ashar by ambulance and be admitted into the British General Hospital in Basra. The Royal Army Medical Corps doctors in the hospital diagnosed his illness as Beri-Beri and decided that it was best he was put on a hospital ship to India where he would receive better treatment. It appears that at this point he was still deemed well enough to travel. On 23rd August he was taken from the hospital and put on board the hospital ship “Madras” but while the ship was en route to India he succumbed to his illness and died at sea. His body was then ceremonially ‘buried at sea’.

Samuel does not appear to have left a will although his personal effects were sent on 2nd February 1917 to his widowed mother, Amelia, in Church End, Brandon. They included letters, cards, calendars, coins, a watch, purse, copper coins, cigarette case and a watch and chain. A couple of years later Amelia was notified that another of her sons, John, had also been killed in the war. John was Samuel’s younger brother.