Researched and written by Anne Wright
Pte C L Sparrow
1/6th Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment
Killed in action, 22.12.1917
Claud Leslie Sparrow was the youngest of three sons and the second to be killed in the First World War; his brother Herbert died of his wounds in October 1915. The three siblings were all born in Weybridge to Alfred and Mary and the family home was Suffolk House in Princes Road. Claud’s brothers were born in 1882 and 1884 respectively with Claud following in 1889. Alfred Sparrow who was born in the village of Yoxford in East Sussex had spent time in a workhouse as a child, before working at the Oxford and Cambridge Club in Pall Mall, being a freelance house decorator in 1891 and by 1901 had his own business. By 1911 Claud, a former pupil of St James’ School (Baker Street), had followed in his father’s footsteps and become a house decorator; when he enlisted he was employed by S. Brown & Sons. He was a member of Weybridge Harriers and Swimming Club as well as singing in St James’ Church choir and belonging to the local territorials.
Claud enlisted at Kingston on 5 August 1914, he was passed fit for service on 14 August and went on to serve for 3 years and 140 days. On mobilisation the battalion moved to Kent before embarking from Southampton to India on 29 October, arriving at Bombay on 2 December. Once war had broken out the number of Regular Army troops in India was depleted to be replaced by territorial units such as Claud’s. On arrival the1/6th East Surreys were posted the Allahabad Brigade in the 8th (Lucknow) Division and then in March 1915 to the Rawalapindi Brigade in the 2nd (Rawalapindi) Division. The following month they left for the hill station at Muree (now in Pakistan), over five thousand feet above sea level. Policing the NW Frontier was a key function as well as local defence. In October they moved within the same division to the Jhelum Brigade.
In February 1917 Claud’s unit moved to Aden, south of Yemen, which the British administered through its government of India. It was of great strategic value to Britain as it was on the sea route from Europe to India. Postings to Aden lasted only one year because of the very difficult environment. Yemen was nominally controlled by the Turks so the British garrison was occupied in fighting roving Turkish guerrilla bands. It is likely that Claud’s fatal gunshot wound was sustained during such a skirmish. He died on 22 December 1917.
Claud was laid to rest in Maala Cemetery on the south side of Aden Harbour which is now in Yemen. He is one of 145 Commonwealth Servicemen buried there who perished in the defence of Aden in the First World War. The graves are in denominational plots among those of civilians. It is not possible for flowers from home to flourish so the headstones are surrounded by kerbs enclosing coral clippings. Claud’s father died in 1920, his funeral service took place at St James’ Church. His mother was still at Suffolk House a year later. He was also survived by his eldest brother Alfred and his daughter as well as the son and daughter of his deceased brother Herbert.
British Army WW1 Pension Records, 1914-1920, www.ancestry.co.uk
The British Army in the Great War 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – East Surrey Regiment, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
Surrey, England, Church of England Burials, 1813-1987, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.ancestry.co.uk