Lance Corporal Vincent Joseph Baker

Regiment:  Base Signal Depot Royal Engineers
Service No:  183048
Date and place of birth: 2nd qtr 1890 in Midhurst, Sussex
Date and place of death: 27 October 1918 in Egypt

Family background

Vincent Joseph Baker was born in Midhurst in 1890, the second son of John Baker and Mary Cecily Baker, nee Fell, who married in 1886.  Their marriage was registered in the Billericay district.  John Baker was born in Midhurst in 1863 and his wife in Herongate, Essex, also in 1863.  In 1891 John, a cabinet maker, and Mary were living in Petersfield Road, Midhurst, with their two sons: Leo John (3) and Vincent, a few months old. Also living with them was Mary’s sister Elizabeth Fell (16), who was working as a dress maker. In 1901 John and Mary were still living in Petersfield Road with their children: Leo John (13), Vincent Joseph (10) and Cecil Raymund (sic) (2). There was also an unnamed new-born daughter listed.

In the 1911 census John Baker (48) and Cecil Raymund (12) were living in West Street, Midhurst. John was still working as a cabinet maker and gave the duration of his marriage as 24 years.

Vincent Joseph was listed as a nephew by George Beagly (31) within his household at 161 Gassiot Road, Tooting, London, where Vincent was working as a watchmaker’s assistant. George’s wife, Catherine Beagly (36) was the sister of Vincent’s mother.  There were three Beagly children: Margaret (6), Hilda (4) and George (1).

Leo John Baker (23) was living as a boarder at 6 Sussex Road, Worthing, Sussex, in a household headed by Alfred Belton.  He was working as a carpenter in the building trade.

Mary Cecily Baker (48) was living at The Alms Houses, Alms Row, Ingatestone, Essex, with her widowed mother, Mary Ann Fell (76).  She also gave the duration of her marriage as 24 years.

Military service

Vincent Joseph Baker enlisted in Midhurst.

At the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914 the Regiment had 1,560 officers and 10,394 men in the Regular and Special Reserve plus another 513 officers and 13,127 men in the Territorial Force. The Royal Engineers were divided into specialist companies which were then attached to appropriate battalions. These included Signal, Survey, Railway and two Cable and Airline (signalling) companies. In addition there were nine Depot Companies for training and administrative duties. On the Western Front the Royal Engineers’ primary role was to dig tunnels for protection, assault and storage. Of particular success were the demolition tunnels, in operation for most of 1917, as the engineers were mainly experienced coal miners.

At the time of his death Vincent Baker was a member of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF), which had evolved after the desperate withdrawal from Gallipoli and was required by the Allies to protect the oil supplies. The EEF destroyed three Turkish armies and pursued the remaining German and Turkish forces to Damascus and Aleppo before the Ottoman Turkish Emperor agreed to an armistice at Mudros on 30 October 1918, three days after Vincent’s death.

He was awarded Victory and British medals.

Death and commemoration

Vincent Baker died in Egypt, aged 28, on the 27 October 1918. He is buried in Ramleh War Cemetery, Israel, grave BB48. He is commemorated on Midhurst War Memorial, the Panels in Midhurst Parish Church and on the Board in Midhurst Rother College

On 10 February 1919 probate was recorded in the Chichester district:

“Baker Vincent Joseph of West Street Midhurst Sussex Lance Corporal Royal Engineers died 27 October 1918 at 76 Casualty Clearing Station Ludd Palestine. Probate Chichester 10 February to John Baker cabinet maker Effects £149.4s.”

Subsequent family history

Leo John Baker died September 1972, in the Chichester district.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project