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Edward George Savage

Airman 3rd Class 45277 E G Savage, Royal Flying Corps

 

Edward was born on 20 January 1897, the son of Edward George Savage and his wife Eva Ann née Jones. Edward senior was a London-born dentist, while Eva was born in Brightwalton - where they married in late 1896.


Edward junior was their eldest child and only son; he had one sister, Dorothy (known as Dolly) born in 1898. Both children were born in Donnington, but the family had moved into Newbury by 1900, where Edward senior set up a dental practice at 5 Mansion House Street (at the time of writing – 2014 - the British Heart Foundation shop). As well as his wife and children, he also moved his aging parents, William and Amelia, into this substantial property. William died in 1905 aged 83, and Amelia in 1908 aged 90.


Wormestall

Wormestall - the home of Newbury Grammar School in Edward's day - converted to flats in 2012.

Edward junior went to school at the Newbury Grammar School in 1907. He did well both academically and at sports, excelling at football and shooting. When he left school in 1915 he set out on a career in dentistry, being articled to his father. However, his 18th birthday had passed so, when conscription was introduced he was soon caught up in the war. 


He may have thought himself fortunate to avoid the trenches by being posted to the Royal Flying Corps, Wireless Signalling School at Farnborough in Hampshire, though this might have been a precursor to a spell at the front in the very dangerous position of observer/gunner in a slow-moving reconnaissance aircraft - the primary target for enemy fighters.  Sadly he was not to go abroad in any capacity. In early January 1917 he contracted measles and was rapidly admitted into an isolation hospital near the RFC School.  On his 20th birthday, 20 January 1917, he was discharged from hospital and was able to return to his training. However, he was soon sick again and was readmitted into Thornhill Hospital, Aldershot, this time suffering from pneumonia.  In the days before antibiotics this was a serious infection, even for a fit young man like Edward.  His condition deteriorated and his parents rushed to his bedside when they were informed he was very seriously ill; he died on 2 February.


His parents placed a death announcement in the local paper:


NWN 8 February 1917 – Died on Service
SAVAGE – Feb 3, at Aldershot, Edward George Savage, the dearly beloved and only son of Edward and Eva Savage, Market-place, Newbury, aged 20. – Deeply mourned.


The same paper included an obituary and a report of Edward’s funeral. 


Newbury Weekly News, 8 February 1917 – Death on Service
Military Funeral at Newbury


Newbury people were greatly saddened to hear of the death of Second Air Mechanic Edward George Savage, son of Mr and Mrs Edward Savage, of the Marketplace. He joined the Royal Flying corps in September, and was serving in the Wireless Section at South Farnborough, where he was showing great proficiency in his work. Taken ill on the 8th of January with an attack of measles, he was treated in the Isolation Hospital, from which he was discharged on January 20th, his twentieth birthday. He returned to duty, but took a chill, there was a relapse, and he was again admitted to the hospital at Aldershot, suffering from pneumonia. His parents were apprised of his serious condition on Thursday, and they immediately proceeded to his bedside; death took place on Saturday.


Another young life has thus been sacrificed in the great war and a promising career cut short in its earliest stages. He was educated at Newbury Grammar School from 1907 to 1915, in the school football team 1913-14, and won medals for shooting in 1913-14-15, and was a prefect from March to December, 1915. He passed the Oxford Local Examinations in arithmetic, English, literature and composition, Latin, French, and mathematics. He was a registered dental student, articled to his father, and intended to carry on his profession, but the call of country intervened. The Headmaster of the Grammar School (Mr E Sharwood-Smith) wrote:- “I heard with dismay and grief of your great loss. Will you and Mrs Savage please accept my sincerest sympathy. He was so long here and I knew him so well, and his generous and unselfish nature, that I felt the loss like a personal blow. And so strong and healthy he seemed. It is indeed a cruel, and from what I have heard, an absolutely unnecessary loss.” The words fittingly express the feelings of many townspeople, and if the knowledge of widespread sympathy is of any comfort to the bereaved parents in their irreparable loss, they may be assured that it is sincerely tendered. Lord Derby, Secretary of State for War has forwarded a message of sympathy from the King and Queen.

 

The Funeral


Grave

Edward's grave in Newtown Road Cemetery

The funeral took place yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon, the body having been brought to Newbury on Monday night. The first part of the service was held at the Parish Church, the Rector (Rev Lionel Majendie) officiating. The body was escorted by a firing party of the Royal Flying Corps under the command of the Adjutant, and which lined the approach to the western door, leaning on their reversed rifles. The body, the coffin being covered with the Union Jack, was borne in and out of the church on the shoulders of six stalwart members of the RFC. The escort headed the procession from the Church to the Cemetery, where the interment took place. At the conclusion of the service, the customary three volleys were fired, the final honours to a deceased comrade.


The mourners were Mr and Mrs Edward Savage (father and mother), Miss Dorothy Savage (sister), Mr and Mrs King, Mrs Roberts. Amongst friends in church were the Headmaster of the Grammar School (Mr E Sharwood-Smith), and a deputation of senior boys, J A Coles, H St John Hodge, B C L James, N B C Lucas, H C Bronsdon, Parker, Messrs H J Davis, F Gibson, S P Burton, F D New, J B Webb, J Brighton, S Ravenor, T Dew, Mr and Mrs E Martin, Misses Draper, and others.


The following floral tributes were contributed:- Mother and Dad, his sister Dolly, from all ranks at the school for Wireless Operators, Royal Flying Corps; Mr and Mrs Roberts, Mrs Coombes and Miss Lea, Mrs Aldridge, Miss Winter, Mr and Mrs H S Neate, Winchcombe Club, Mr and Mrs R G Bland, from his old schoolfellows, Mrs E J Hassell, Mr and Mrs Hedges.


The funeral arrangements were carried out by Mr E B Hitchman, of Speenhamland.

 

Mr and Mrs & Miss Savage wish to thank those numerous friends who have so kindly expressed their sympathy in their sad bereavement; also for the flowers sent.

Market Place, Newbury.


Edward was buried in Newtown Road Cemetery; his father joined him in the same plot when he died in 1921.  The original grave was framed by marble kerbs bearing the inscription: In Loving Memory of Edward G Savage, 2nd. Air Mechanic, R.F.C., died Feb 3rd. 1917 at Thornhill Hospital, Aldershot / aged 20 years. "They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts / in that day when I make up my Jewels."


Edward's Gallipoli marker

Edward's Gallipoli marker

Whilst this inscription is still legible it is often obscured by grass; so the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has seen fit to add another marker. They chose not to add a full headstone, instead using what they term as a Gallipoli marker (they are used in place of headstones in the cemeteries in the Gallipoli peninsular). They are also less intrusive when added to an existing family grave, which may well commemorate, as in this case, other members of the deceased serviceman's family.


Name on Newbury War Memorial

Edward's name on Newbury War Memorial

(lower right)

Locally he is remembered on tablet 1 of the Newbury Town War Memorial and on the memorial board (as F G Savage) and roll of honour in St Nicolas Church, Newbury. 

 

His name is also recorded on the war memorial in the reception area at St Bartholomew’s School, the successor to his alma mater, Newbury Grammar School.


Thanks to Peter Davies for his contribution to this story.


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