Henry James Soffe

Date of birth: 1882
Place of birth: Shirley, Southampton
Service number: 356555
Rank: private
Regiment: Hampshire regiment
Battalion: 1st
Died: 19th April 1918 aged 36
Death location: France and Flanders

Military Service
Henry James Soffe’s military record has not survived. He probably signed up in 1916 (based on the age of his youngest daughter). He served as a private in the Hampshire Regiment 1st Battalion which was formed in August 1914 as part of the 11th brigade in the 4th division. They moved from Colchester to Harrow, and landed at Le Havre on 23rd August 1914 and remained in France for the duration of the war. Henry James Soffe died on 19th April 1918 aged 36, leaving behind a wife and 5 young children.

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 British War Medal was awarded for service in World War One. Also called the British Empire campaign medal, it was issued for services between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. The medal was automatically awarded in the event of death on active service. This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Squeak’.

The Victory medal, also called the Inter Allied Victory Medal was awarded to those who received the British War Medal. It was never awarded alone. This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Wilfred’.

Life before the war
Henry James Soffe was born in Shirley Southampton in 1882, the first son of James Soffe born 1857 in Minsthead, Hampshire and Jane Harfield born 1858 in Cheriton, Hampshire. They had married in Alresford, Hampshire between October and December 1880 (vol2c p323), and had a total of two children;
Henry James’ sister Ellen Louisa was born in 1883. In 1910 she married blacksmith Arthur George Taylor. In 1911 she lived in a private house in Sutton Scotney, Micheldever, Hampshire and had 1 daughter Gladys M born less than a month before the census was taken on April 2nd 1911.

In 1891 the family had lived in an unnamed cottage in Lordswood. His father was employed as a domestic gardener (possibly at near by Aldermoor House owned by Colonel William Linkins) and Henry James was in school.
In 1901 the family were living in Ridgeway Cottage, Lordswood Southampton, his father James and Henry James were both employed as gardeners.  This may have been the same cottage.
In 1911 Henry James’ parents were home alone in Lordswood, his father still employed as a domestic gardener.

Henry James Soffe married Ethel Beatrice Glasspool after banns on 5th May 1906. The marriage was registered in South Stoneham vol2c p140, and was witnessed by Annie Florence Glasspool and William Rogers. (from the marriage certificate)
In 1911 they lived at ‘The Lodge’, Harefield, West End, Bitterne. Henry James was employed as a domestic gardener.
They had five children;

  1. Henry was born in 1908
  2. Leslie was born in 1910 (died 2001 aged 92)
  3. Winifred E was born 1913, married Eric D Gilbert in 1939 in Southampton
  4. Ruth A was born 1914 (no deaths or marriages were found)
  5. Ellen J was born 1916 married William JC Cave in 1945 in Southampton

His widow Ethel never remarried after Henry James’ death and died aged 84 in Southampton Between July and September 1968.

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