Private Eli Enticknap

Regiment: 2nd Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment)
Service No. L/8899
Date and place of birth:  2nd quarter 1886 Chithurst, nr Midhurst, Sussex
Date and place of death: about 21 October 1914 (aged 28) First Battle of Ypres

Eli Enticknap was born in 1886 at Chithurst in the Midhurst Registration District. He was the son of a chimney sweep and lived in the Chithurst area. His name is on the memorial in Iping church but no record can be found under this name of his war service or death. An Edmund Enticknap enlisted in the regular army about 1906 and was killed at the first battle of Ypres on 21 October 1914. For reasons set out below it is believed that this record relates to the same man.

Family background

Eli Enticknap was born in the second quarter of 1886 in the Midhurst registration district but his birthplace is usually given as Chithurst. He was the son of Alfred Enticknap (1845–1926) a chimney sweep and his wife Emily Louise née Salter (1848–1939). He was one of eight children of whom seven were still alive in 1911.

The 1891 Census shows the family at Chorley Common in the parish of Chithurst with Eli aged 5 the youngest of seven children living at home. In 1901 the family may still be in the same house but the address is now given as Cooks Pond in Chithurst parish which is next to the entries for Chorley Common. Eli and his brother Albert are the only two children still living with their parents and Eli aged 15 is an agricultural labourer.

The 1911 Census shows Eli’s parents in the parish of Iping and Trotton but now listed postally as Wardley, Liphook, Hampshire. Two of their unmarried daughters are living with their parents in a 6 room house. None of the entries in the 1911 census in the name of Eli Enticknap appear to relate to this man.

Military service

No entry has been found for this Eli Enticknap in any military records and no death certificate seems to relate to him. However in about 1906, when Eli would have been about 19, an Edmund Enticknap enlisted with the Queen’s Regiment. The army records show that his date of birth must have been about 1875 (some nine years before Eli). However the Edmund Enticknap whose birth details correspond to the Army records appears in the 1911 Census for Fernhurst as a married farm worker in Fernhurst with three children and can be clearly traced during the earlier censuses. The Edmund Enticknap who enlisted is shown with his regiment in the Arabia, Cyprus and Gibraltar section of the 1911 census return giving 25 as his age which would correspond with Eli’s actual age at the time.

It seems likely that for some unknown reason Eli had ‘borrowed’ the name and birth details of Edmund when he joined up and this is suggested by the fact that the Army notes that the next of kin for the man who died in 1914 are Mr A and Mrs E Enticknap of Mill Cottages, Iping who are in fact Eli’s parents. Incidentally, the Edmund Enticknap who was listed in Fernhurst in the 1911 Census appears to have died in 1955.

If this hypothesis is correct Eli Enticknap served with the Queen’s Regiment from his enlistment in about 1906 (inferred from his service number). This regiment was in Pretoria in August 1914 and returned to England about a month later. It joined the 22nd Brigade of the 7th Division and landed at Zeebrugge in the first week of October 1914.

Death and commemoration

It was originally intended that the unit would help with the defence of Antwerp but it became clear that the city was falling to the enemy and the 7th Division was instead ordered to hold certain bridges and other critical points to assist with the evacuation of Belgian forces westwards. After the Belgian forces had gone, the Division was moved westwards where it entrenched in front of Ypres.

The manner and precise date of Eli’s death are not known but his name appears on the memorial in Iping church. A notice from Iping in the West Sussex Gazette on 11 March 1915 states that Private Eli (note the name) Enticknap of the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment ”who was wounded in November is now officially reported as wounded and missing. His relatives have had no news of him since November”.


Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project