Horace Mayes was the son of David and Mary Ann (nee Henson), born at Fletton near Peterborough in 1896. He was baptised at Fletton, then in Huntingdonshire, on 3 September 1897, his father was a stoker on the railway. He had seven siblings, one of them dying in infancy. Those who survived were Florence, Ethel, Lilian and Gertrude, all born in Fletton, Eva was born in Peterborough and little brother Alfred born in 1908 in Rugby.
Between 1906 and 1908 the family moved to Rugby, and in 1911 was living at 28 Abbey Street. David at that time was a tube cleaner at the Loco Department of the LNWR – London and North Western Railway. Florence was aged 20, a waitress at a skating rink, Ethel (19) was a servant, Lilian (16) a grocer’s assistant and Horace himself (14) a moulding apprentice at the British Thomson Houston (BTH) iron foundry. Gertrude (12) and Eva (5) were both scholars, Alfred was aged only 3. David was born at Aldwinckle Northants in 1863 and Mary Ann at Peterborough in 1868, they were married in 1890.
Horace joined the Territorials in January 1914 as a driver in the Royal Field Artillery, but was discharged shortly afterwards as not likely to become an efficient soldier. He was only 5ft 3in tall (Army Pension Records). This did not prevent him from enlisting at the start of the war when he joined the 5th Bn Oxfordshire and Buckingham Light Infantry as Private 11875, rising to Lance Corporal at his death. His medal card gives the date of his embarkation to France as 10 June 1915. The Rugby Advertiser of 2 Dec 1916 reported that he was in hospital at Bristol suffering from wounds in the thigh, arm and hand, and this was the second time he had been wounded. The issue of 16 Dec reports his death at Bristol Hospital in a notice from the family with a touching poem:
One less at home, one more in Heaven:
Our Saviour has taken the bloom He has given.
Flowers may wither, die of decay,
But the love of our son will for ever stay.
The Advertiser of 23 December gives a further report, saying he was seriously wounded in France in September, and in hospital there for two months before being brought back to England. He was aged 20, an apprentice at BTH. The funeral had taken place the previous week at Clifton Road Cemetery, with a firing party attending from Warwick and his coffin being draped with the Union Jack.
11875 Lance Cpl. H MAYES Oxford & Bucks Light Inf. 6th December 1916 age 20.
“Peace, perfect peace.”
vase: ILMO my dear husband DAVID MAYES 1862-1936 R.I.P.
Also MARY ANN HENSON MAYES his beloved wife 1867-1939.
It seems likely that Horace was wounded in the same action at Montauban on 15 September that took the life of his comrade from Rugby William Arthur Lissaman (qv) of the same regiment, when 14 men were killed, 119 wounded and 23 missing (see Rugby Remembers for that date for more details of the action taken from the war diary of the regiment).
The Register of Soldiers’ Effects notes that £14.16s.2d was sent to his mother, she also received a gratuity of £10 in 1919. His father had died at Leicester in 1914. Horace was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1915 Star.
He is also commemorated on the BTH War Memorial as H Mays, and has a CWGC headstone in Clifton Road Cemetery.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM