Herbert Vincent French

Herbert Vincent French ©

Herbert Vincent French ©

Date of birth: 22nd August 1886
Place of birth: Brightlingsea, Essex
Service No.: 907829
Rank: Private
Regiment: Saskatchewan Regiment/Canadian Infantry
Battalion: 5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles
Died: 15th August 1917 aged 31 years
Death location: France


NOTE: Although Herbert’s name is not on Southampton’s Cenotaph or Memorial Wall, our researcher chose to research and tell his story.


This photograph is © Richard Taunton Sixth Form College. Southampton Cenotaph Families and Friends Group have received permission to reproduce this photograph and extracts from the narrative on the Old Tauntonians’ online War Memorial:http://www.ota-southampton.org.uk/memorial/index.html

Please do not reproduce the photograph or any wording from this page.  If you want permission to use this photograph or narrative please contact the College on email@richardtaunton.ac.uk.


Before the War
Herbert was born in Brightlingsea on 22nd August 1886 to Isaiah (1852 – 01/01/1911) and Grace (nee Frost 1853).  His parents were married in Lexden, Essex in 1874.

Herbert’s siblings were:
Grace E (1875)  –  Married Percy Durkin in Southampton 1898.
Bessie Helene (1876 – 1957)  –  Married Clifford Alfred Eagle in Southampton 1898.
Gertie Frost (1878)
Sydney J (1891)
Gwendoline May (1893)

On the 1891 census Herbert is living with his family at Tower Street, Brightlingsea.  His father’s occupation was a Mariner and on 22nd February 1892 he was awarded a Certificate of Competency as ‘Mate of a fore and aft rigged vessel only’.

The 1901 census shows that Herbert is studying at Christ’s Hospital Boarding School, Christchurch Newgate Street, London.  His parents, brother Sydney and sisters, Gertie and Gwendoline are living at 85 High Street, Holyrood, Southampton.  His older sister Grace is living with her aunt and uncle in Leith, Scotland (she was born in Leith).

Herbert’s father died 1st January 1911 and in the 1911 census his mother is living with her daughter, Grace, at 30 Jersey Road, Ilford.

Herbert emigrated to Canada in 1906 and was employed initially as a servant in the Province of Saskatchewan.


Military History
Herbert enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force at Regina, Saskatchewan on 18th April 1916 and he was living at Royal North West Mounted Police, Regina, Saskatchewan.  He was a policeman and prior to his enlistment he had served for 3 years with the Mounted Police.

When he died Herbert was serving in the 5th Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles.  He was involved in the Battle of Hill 70, on the outskirts of Lens in the Nord-Pas-de Calais region of France, which began at 4.25am on 15th August 1917 and lasted until 25th August 1917.  He was one of an estimated 220 casualties on 15th August when he was involved in the Battalion’s attack of German trenches.  A number of casualties were caught by German snipers who were hiding in the houses in Cité St. Édouard.

Herbert was awarded the Victory medal and the British War medal.

There was an article in the Red Deer News on 12th September 1917:
H.V. French, formerly of the News Staff, then of the Dominion L and Office staff and later member of the R.N.W.M.P., was reported to have made the supreme sacrifice in the lists Wednesday last. “Bert” French, as he was called, was with the Mounties of Regina, and enlisted there for overseas.  His next of kin resides in England”

Herbert is remembered at the Vimy Memorial which is dedicated to those who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and lost their lives during the First World War.  This memorial is north of Arras, France and overlooks the Douai Plain.  11285 names are carved on the memorial.


Old Tauntonians’ Memorial Roll

Time at Taunton’s School:  1895 – 1896

Education & Employment:  Herbert was born on 22nd August 1886 in Brightlingsea, Essex.  He attended Bellevue Preparatory School before joining Taunton’s.  Herbert studied at Christ’s Hospital from 1899 – 1903.  His first job in Canada was in farming.

Life during the War:  Herbert emigrated to Canada in 1906 but kept in touch with Taunton’s and subscribed to the school journal.  He lived in Red Deer Town, Alberta, before moving to Regina, Sasketchewan.  He worked as a Policeman with the Canadian Mounted Police before enlising in the Canadian Expenditionary Force in April 1916.  Herbert served as a Private in the 5th Battalion of the Sasketchewan Regiment and was killed by a bullet in France.

Herbert died on 15th / 16th August 1917 aged 29 years.


Researcher: Jackie Chandler
Published: 28th May 2013
Updated: Insert dates here

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

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