Private Jesse Hammond
16811 6th Bn. Leicestershire Regiment who died on 25 March 1917
Jesse Hammond was born in 1892. He was the eldest child of Charles Hammond, a boot laster and rivetter born in 1862 and his wife Clara (nee Frost) born in 1869 at Lambeth, London. Charles and Clara had married in 1891 and had six children, Jesse, Mary Ann, Charles, Edward, Caroline and Maggie. The Hammond family lived at various different yard addresses off London Road, Oadby. The yards ran between and behind the houses on either side and were very heavily populated.
London Road, Oadby.
In the 1911 census they are listed as living in Clarke’s Yard off London Road. Clarke’s yard was popularly referred to as ‘Bedlam Yard’. It ran behind what is now The Parade/Leicester Road and comprised a square of small cottages with a pump at the centre. In 1911 Jesse was employed as a dairyman worker.
The entrance to Clarke’s Yard where the Hammond family lived in 1911 can be seen behind the boys standing on the kerb
Jesse enlisted in April 1915 and joined the 10th (Reserve) Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. He transferred to the 6th Leicesters and arrived in France in February 1916. His service record no longer exists but it is possible to piece together his war service from medical records which have survived.
During the Spring of 1916 the 6th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment was stationed in the Berles au Bois/Monchy area of northern France. Following the devastating losses of the opening day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, the 110th Leicester Brigade, including the 6th Leicesters, gradually made their way south to the Somme Battlefield. For Jesse, as for many of the volunteers of the Leicester service battalions, this was probably his first taste of action. On 14 July the 6th and 7th Leicesters were the first men over the top in the attack on Bazentin Wood. Crossing open land from trenches on the edge of Mametz Wood, many were cut down by enfilade fire.
The open area between Mametz and Bazentin Woods where Jesse probably sustained his injuries.
Jesse’s medical record describes his suffering following horrific injuries sustained at Bazentin Ridge. Jesse was recovered from the battlefield with a head injury and gunshot wounds to his thigh and calf. From a casualty clearing station he was assessed at the Australian Voluntary Hospital in Le Havre and by 17 July he was aboard the hospital ship SS Jan Breydell heading for Dover.
Nurses at the Australian Voluntary Hospital, Le Havre
Wartime postcard of the SS Jan Breydell hospital ship
Jesse was admitted to St John’s Hospital in Hastings where his leg wounds were treated but where he began to suffer from headaches, frequent vomiting and dizziness attributed to a ‘blow on the head’. Shrapnel was later removed. On 31 October Jesse was transferred to the Military Hospital in Eastbourne where it was noted that his leg wounds ‘had not quite healed’ so he underwent an operation to scrape the sepsis and ‘Red Lotion dressings’ were applied.
However during the Autumn Jesse’s condition deteriorated with erratic but gradually climbing temperatures. His notes indicate that he had ‘developed symptoms of brain irritation….near the site of operation for the removal of a piece of shrapnel at the military hospital’, and on 17 December he was tranferred to the 2nd Eastern General Hospital in Brighton for specialist treatment for what was described as a ‘gun shot wound to the head’.
After a painful and protracted illness Private Jesse Hammond died on 25 March 1917 eight months after receiving his wounds on the Somme Battlefield. His body was returned to his family in Oadby.
Jesse’s medical card from the Australian Voluntary Hospital at Le Havre noting his discharge to the SS Jan Breydel hospital ship bound for Dover
A section of Jesse’s medical record .
Private Jesse Hammond is Buried with Honour at Oadby Cemetery. He is also honoured on the Oadby War Memorial.
News clip announcing Jesse’s death (Oadby and Wigston Advertiser 21 April 1917)
Private Jesse Hammond’s grave in Oadby Cemetery.