Family story contributed by Brian Roote
Three Hartfield brothers went to war and only one survived. They were born to George Hartfield and Clara (nee Payne) and they lived in Streatham and Thornton Heath at various times.
Albert George Hartfield was born on 7 August 1896 in Streatham. He worked as a bookseller’s assistant. He enlisted on 11 May 1915 and went to France on 6 March 1916 with the 17th Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps, service number 3185, and reached the rank of corporal. He was wounded in the right arm by a gunshot on 8 September 1916 and on 10 June 1917 suffered severe shell shock. This was the result of being buried when his machine gun post was hit by enemy shells and he was never able to fight at the front again. He was transferred to the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) on 20 March 1918 and was finally demobilised on 21 July 1919. He went on to marry Ruth Vine in 1919 and had seven children. So Albert was the ‘lucky’ one
Frederick George Hartfield was born on 17 December 1894 and was baptised on 10 February 1895. Frederick went to Polworth School where he was admitted on 28 May 1898. He worked as a Carman with Payne and Birdseye, removal contractors. He enlisted in Battersea and joined the Grenadier Guards 2nd Battalion (service number 17407) and reached the rank of Lance-Sergeant. The unit went to France on 22 January 1915. He left an informal will leaving all to Miss Sarah May Vine whom he would certainly have married had he survived. He was killed in action on 25 September 1916 at Ginchy. He is remembered on the Thiepval memorial and is in the Croydon Roll of Honour.
Sarah May couldn’t get over his loss. She joined Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps on 21 June 1917 and served overseas, mainly at Etaples. She was discharged on 3 August 1919.
Charles Sydney Hartfield was born on 1 July 1898 in Streatham. He became a porter by trade. He enlisted on 1 June 1915 age 16 years 11 months, although his service records say 19 years 11 months. He was placed in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, number R/13870, where he joined his brother, who was in the same battalion. Charles was wounded in the left shoulder by shrapnel on 3 September 1916 and by gunshot on 22 August 1917. Having survived these injuries, he was killed in action on 20 November 1917 at the Battle of Cambrai. He is remembered on the Cambrai Memorial, Louverval.
He was courting Charlotte Vine, sister of Ruth and Sarah May.
So three brothers went to serve king and country and it appears that one of them (Charles Sydney) was ‘economical with the truth’ about his age to get in. The surviving brother, Albert, was never really again fit and spent many months in hospital during and after the war. However, had he not survived my partner Marie and her siblings would not have been born.