Henry Joseph, 1888

1888 (Cheltenham) – 1918 (Shorncliffe, Kent)

Our grandfather Henry Joseph Pitman (known as Harry) was born in Cheltenham in October 1888 and was baptised at St Mark’s, Cheltenham the same month. He was the second son of Henry Pitman and Martha (née Jeenes).

Henry senior died within 2 weeks of Harry’s birth and Martha within a year. In October 1889 the two orphaned brothers were admitted to Cheltenham Union Workhouse. Both were later boarded out and stayed in Cheltenham with Susan Crump for many years. Harry seems to have gone through life believing himself to be a year younger than he actually was (presumably the result of an error when he was admitted to the workhouse).

Harry passed the entrance exam to go to Cheltenham Grammar School at the supposed age of 14 and his fees were paid by the workhouse. School records show that he was good at maths, science and sport.

On leaving school he emigrated to Canada in April 1908 and settled in British Columbia. Harry subsequently joined the Canadian Army Medical Corps in 1915. Whilst training in England in 1916 he married Daisy Emily Selley, at St Philip and St James’ Church, Leckhampton, Cheltenham. Presumably the two had known each other as children as they lived in the same neighbourhood but it must have been at least seven years since they had seen one another! They had one son born later that year.

Wedding group outside the bride’s home (published in the Cheltenham Chronicle and Graphic)

Harry served in France attached to 47th Battalion Canadian Infantry, possibly as a stretcher bearer. After being wounded in the battle for Regina Trench on 11th November 1916 he was returned to England where he spent three months in Nottingham General Hospital, followed by time at Epsom and Ramsgate. In mid-1918 he was hospitalised again, this time through illness. He died at Shorncliffe Camp near Folkestone on 25th November 1918, and was buried in the Military Cemetery there.

Shorncliffe Military Cemetery, taken late in World War 1
(courtesy Bamford Collection, Folkestone & District Local History Society)

Daisy Emily Selley     18 March 1916        Leckhampton (St Philip & St James)

Henry Frederick    1916 – 1988