Lieutenant Francis Charles Aylmer Lloyd

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Lt F C A Lloyd
12th Battalion, Highland Light Infantry
Died of wounds, 8.10.15
Age, 31

Francis Charles Aylmer Lloyd was born on 19 August 1884 and baptised at St. Peter’s Church, Bayswater on 18 September 1884. He was the second child of three sons and a daughter born to Francis Alymer Lloyd and his wife Eugenie Alphonsine Milner (nee Gaudin). By 1891 the family had moved from London to Hersham and twenty years later resided at Witley. In 1913 they moved to Eastwood, Bridgewater Road in Weybridge. Both Francis and his younger brother Gerald (Captain G A Lloyd) were educated at Cheltenham College. In 1902 Francis passed 5th for admission to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. However, his plans were thwarted when he was rejected by the Medical Board. He went on to study at Armstrong College, Newcastle and then at the City and Guilds Institute in London. He emerged as a civil engineer. He married Phyllis Chittenden of West Malling in Kent on 12 February 1913 at the Holy Trinity Church, Brompton, London. He worked in South America for a time but returned from Montevideo with his wife on board Corinthic on 22 August 1913. They made their home at Highfield Cottage, Shepperton.

Francis enlisted in King Edward’s Horse in August 1914 and in January 1915 was gazetted as Lieutenant in the 12th Battalion, the Highland Light Infantry which landed at Boulogne on 10 July 1915. At some point he was attached to the 2nd Battalion of the same regiment (2nd HLI); his grave registration places him with this battalion at the time of his death. The battalion’s War Diary does not record when Francis was attached to this unit but it is possible that he was with them at the Battle of Loos in September. This battle, also referred to at the time by the Allies as ‘the Big Push’ was designed to create a major breakthrough in the German lines; it was a massive offensive and marked the first use of poison gas by the British. The 2nd HLI were in the line at Givenchy; initially they were successful in occupying the German front line trench whilst sustaining few casualties and some advanced to the German supporting lines after severe hand to hand fighting but they were subsequently driven back to their own lines by superior enemy bombing. They paid a heavy price: 329 casualties were sustained, 8 of whom were officers. Any early success which the British made in this battle was not capitalised on because reserves were too far behind the front and when they arrived they were exhausted and inexperienced troops unable to deal with the counter-attack. The British just avoided a retreat thanks to the timely arrival of the Guards Division. Many were killed or wounded by German machine-gun fire. In all the British suffered 50,000 casualties.

After a brief respite Francis and his comrades marched to Vermelles on 1 October and after dark went into the trenches once again. They were in what had been the German front line trench before the fighting of late September but the night before they took over their position the Germans had recaptured part of the trench. The 2nd HLI were ordered to retake this section. On 2 October after a bombardment of over four hours ‘A’ and ‘D’ Companies attacked at 8.30pm; they got into the occupied area and held on for some considerable time in spite of a heavy counter-attack, but they were finally compelled to return to their own lines. Francis was wounded in this attack.

He died at the British Red Cross Hospital, also known as the Duchess of Westminster’s Hospital in Le Touquet. Francis is buried at Etaples Military Cemetery (1. A 10), which is 27 km south of Boulogne. A marble wall tablet on the east wall of the tower of St James’ Church commemorates those to whom there were memorials in the Church of St Michael and All Angels in Princes Road, Weybridge which was demolished in 1973: Francis Charles Alymer Lloyd is one of them. His parents continued to live in Weybridge until at least 1919; his widow did not remarry and died in Uckfield in Sussex in 1966.

Sources:

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administration), 1858-1966, www.ancestry.co.uk
London, England, Church of England Births & Baptisms, 1813-1917, www.ancestry.co.uk
London, England, Church of England Marriages & Banns, 1754-1932, www.ancestry.co.uk
St James’ Church, Weybridge, Inventory Records, 1985, St James’ Church
Two Brothers Killed, Surrey Advertiser, Saturday, 16 October 1915
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960, www.ancestry.co.uk
Wisefj2 Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk

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