Edwin Cecil Russell Christmas

Date of birth:  1886
Place of birth:  Southampton
Service No.:  R4150
Rank:  Second Lieutenant
Regiment / Division:  Kings Royal Rifle Corps
Battalion:  18th Battalion
Died: 7th October 1916 aged 30 years
Death location:  The Somme, France

Military Service

Edwin Christmas

Edwin Christmas

MIn WW1 Edwin worked his way up from a private in the 28th London rifles to second lieutenant in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps (service number:R4150) The 18th (Service) Battalion (Arts & Crafts) of the Kings Royal rifle Corps was formed at Gidea Park in London by Major Sir Herbert Raphael on 4 June 1915. In October 1915 the battalion moved to Witley and came under orders of 122nd Brigade in 41st Division of the Fourth Army (lead by Sir Henry Rawlinson). They moved to Aldershot in November 1915, on to Witley in February and thence back to Aldershot.

On 3 May 1916 the battalion landed at Le Havre. In November 1917 they moved with the Division to Italy but returned to France in March 1918.

Edwin died on 7th October 1916 aged 30 whilst fighting in the Battle of Le Transloy which was fought between 1st and 18th October 1916.  Edwin is commemorated on The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, which bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave.  Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.

He was posthumously awarded the Victory medal and the British medal in recognition of his services to his country and is inscribed on the cenotaph at Southampton “lest we forget”

The silver British War Medal was awarded for service in World War One. Also called the British Empire campaign medal, it was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Squeak’.  The bronze Victory medal, also called the Inter Allied Victory Medal was awarded to those who received the British War Medal.  This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Wilfred’.

Probate with a Will for Edwin Cecil Russell Christmas was heard in Winchester on 1st February 1918.  He left £3,460 13s 11d to his sister Hilda Margaret Christmas.

Life before the war
Edwin Cecil Russell Christmas was born in 1886 in Southampton the second son to licensed victualler Edwin Christmas (born 1848) and Margaret Abigail nee Russell (born 1860) who had married in 1883.

Edwin grew up in a large family. His cousins were often enumerated at the home as well.

The following children of Edwin and Margaret Abigail Christmas are confirmed from parish records:

  1. William Foster – born 1884 and died 1940.
  2. Edwin Cecil Russell
  3. Jessie A – born 1889.
  4. Hilda Margaret – born 1890.
  5. Harold Richard – christened 22nd May 1890 and died 1976 aged 85.
  6. Arthur – born 1893.
  7. Herbert – born 1895.
  8. John – born 1898.
  9. Marjorie – born 1900.

In 1881, aged 47, William Thomas Christmas (uncle to Edwin Cecil Russell Christmas) of Portsdown Hill Hampshire was the licensed Victualler of the Edinburgh Commercial Hotel at 1 St Mary’s Road, Southampton.  In 1889 Kellys Directory shows that William Thomas’ brother Edwin Christmas (senior) has taken over the licence which he held until his death in 1911. The licence then passed to the Christmas Brothers until in 1935 Kellys directory shows it passing to the ‘House’ family.  The building was still standing in 1954, however it has since been demolished and a ‘Safe Store’ stands on the corner of Brintons Terrace and Bellevue Terrace where the pub once stood.

The family lived and worked in the hotel all their lives.

In 1901 Edwin Cecil Russel was boarding at Homelands School, Bannisters Court, Bannisters Road, Shirley, Southampton with his brother Harold and 23 other boys aged 8 to 19 years.  The school was being run by Christopher G Ellaby, whose widowed mother and sisters, along with a handful of domestic servants and a cook were living at the address.

His mother Margaret Abigail Christmas died on 24th August 1910.  Probate was heard in London on 14th October 1910.  She left £2,213 10s 10d to her husband, her eldest son (then licensed victualler) William Foster Christmas and the undertaker Thomas George Dacombe.

His father Edwin Christmas died 21st January 1911.  Probate was heard in London on 31st May 1911. He left £14,117 18s 3d to his sons, joint licensed victuallers William Foster, Edwin Cecil Russell and Harold Richard Christmas.

A former Saints player
As a local amateur footballer ‘Cecil’ first joined Southampton on Hampshire League forms during the 1908-09 season but, succumbing to competing business claims, he quit football in 1910.


This photograph shows the Saints pre-season line up for 1910/11. Eight of these players are known to have served in the War.  Four would be killed and another two wounded.

Edwin Christmas is third from the right in the first standing row.




Being aware of Cecil’s pace and dribbling skills, the Reserves’ Manager, George Carter, persuaded him to return to The Dell in March 1912, this time on Southern League forms.  He soon made his first-team debut, but was badly injured on his second outing, a week later.  Although retained for the following season, Cecil was forced to retire prematurely.

Football Career:  Banister Court / Southampton am 1908 (HL forms) and Mar 1912 (SL forms).
Debut:  v Crystal Palace (a) 16 March 1912 SL
Last game:  v Luton Town (h) 23 March 1912 SL

We would like to thank David Bull, Duncan Holley and Gary Chalk, fellow authors of All the Saints for providing us with the above photographs, for their kind donation of this book from which the above information has been copied and for their interest in our work.  This book and other publications are available for purchase from Hagiology Publishing.

Researcher: DHW  April 2013
Published.: May 2013
Updated: 29th December 2014 – photograph and information provided David Bull, Duncan Holley and Gary Chalk of Hagiology Publishing.

If you have any additional information about the person named above please complete the Comments section below.

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