Private - 1st London Sanitary Company - RAMC - Regt. No. 1339
Herbert Townsend was born in Gravesend on 25 September 1891 to Thomas Charles Townsend (born 1861 in Newcastle) and Elizabeth Jane (born 1860 in Gateshead). In the 1901 Census Herbert was listed as living at 99 Old Road West, Gravesend with his parents and 4 brothers – Alfred (born 19/01/1887), George Douglas (born 1889), Thomas Stanley (born 1890) and Arthur (born 02/06/1893). Herbert’s father was listed as an Engineer’s Book Keeper. The family was able to afford a General Domestic Servant, Florence M Goodwin, age 15.
The first school that Herbert attended was Wrotham Road School, a Board School opened in 1894. He continued his education at The Gravesend County Day School (now Gravesend Grammar School) from 1904. The County Day School had been originally opened in 1893 as a school of science and art, located in Darnley Street close to Gravesend Railway Station. (With the move of Gravesend Grammar School in 1938 to its present site in Milton Road, the original school building is now the Victoria Centre for Adult Education). Arthur also attended the School from 1904. Just before the time that Herbert and Arthur attended the School, the 1902 Education Act had been passed and the school had become a recognised Secondary School. Although still a fee-paying school, there were scholarships available, however it is unknown as to whether Herbert and his brother were scholarship pupils. The Headmaster at the time was H F A Wigley, BA, FCS
By the time of the 1911 Census Herbert at 19 was listed as an Assistant Sanitary Inspector for the Gravesend Corporation (he had started working there in 1909). Both George, age 22 and Thomas, age 21, were listed as ‘Invalids with Phthisis’ (Pulmonary TB), and Arthur, age 17 was a Commercial Clerk in a City Office, all still living with their parents at the same address as 1901. Alfred had married Agnes Lilian Mee in 1909, and according to the 1911 Census was then living at Southend on Sea with his wife and 1 son, Frederick Thomas (born 1910). George died later on in 1911 and Thomas died in 1913.
After the outbreak of World War One, Herbert and his co-worker J G Plant had been excused conscription in November 1915, due to the fact that they were indispensable to the work of the Health Department (Kent Messenger 27/11/1915). Herbert was at that point Chief Assistant. However, Herbert chose to enlist on the 16 February 1916 as a Private in the 1st London Sanitary Company, Royal Army Medical Corps, Regiment No. 1339. He was first stationed at Chelsea, but was then sent to Bulford Camp in Tidworth for training, whilst there he became ill and was invalided home to Gravesend. 3 weeks later, on 11 September 1916, age 24, he died – cause of death was given as Malignant Endocarditis. His address according to the Kent Messenger (16/09/1916) was 8 Kent Road, Gravesend, the Messenger also states that he was ‘never of robust health’.
Herbert Townsend is buried in Gravesend Cemetery.
Brother Arthur died on 24 May 1921 at the Sanatorium in Gravesend. The only surviving son, Alfred, lived until 1972.