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Douglas John Salway

Private 22121 Douglas John Salway, 2nd Battalion, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry


Douglas Salway

Douglas Salway

Douglas was born in Newbury in 1896 the son of John Salway and his wife Lucy née Delderfield; he was their youngest child, three sisters Millicent Bessie (born 1886), Winifred Annie (1887) and Linda Gladys (1891) all survived him, but his elder brother, William John (1889) died a few weeks after he was born.


John was a bank clerk, earning a decent living at the Capital & Counties Bank (now Lloyds Bank, Bridge Street), he was probably a relatively senior clerk and the family lived in middle class housing at 2 Uplands, Newtown Road. Uplands was a pair of substantial semi-detached houses adjacent to St John's Church. Their neighbours, the Murrays extended their home to create premises for their motor garage business (Murray & Whitaker's). The Salway home is now 24 Newtown Road.

 

Douglas was a pupil at Newbury Grammar School (now St Bartholomew’s School) probably as a recipient of a scholarship, the fees would probably be beyond the average bank clerk’s wages. He attended the Grammar School from 1907 to 1913, his headmaster described him as quiet and unassuming by nature, but a potent influence for good. His school career was unremarkable, and his successes were chiefly in long distance running. He represented his house at cricket and the school at rugby.

 

Upland Villas

Uplands: the Salways lived in the house on the far right; the leftmost section is a later addition for their neighbour's business (Murray & Whitaker's Garage).

After school he followed his father’s example and became a bank clerk, working for Lloyds Bank, which was to merge with the Capital & Counties in 1918. He was working in their High Wycombe branch when war was declared in August 1914.  He did not join the early rush to enlist into Lord Kitchener’s ‘New Army’ neither did he wait for the introduction of conscription.  In reality he was not old enough to serve overseas until he was 19 in 1915 and it was in the latter part of that year that he enlisted at High Wycombe into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

 

He was trained in the UK before going overseas as a replacement for the regiment’s 2nd Battalion, a ‘Regular’ battalion, originally comprising a part of the pre-war professional army.  However, by 1916, the number of pre-war regulars still with the battalion was a small proportion of their strength; most men would have enlisted since war began. Given the typical training time Douglas is unlikely to have crossed to France before the spring of 1916 and it is entirely possible that he was sent out in July following the immense losses in the early days of the Battle of the Somme.


Ox & Bucks Light Infantry badge

The regimental badge of the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry, as used on CWGC headstones.

The circumstances of Douglas’ death on 8 August 1916 are a mystery; his battalion was in the front line area and hence vulnerable to enemy shellfire, but their day appears to have involved little danger:


War Diary – 8 August 1916 – Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry
Attack of Guillemont by 6th Inf Bde. The relief of the Bde (from Div Reserve) was cancelled, and the Regiment was lent to 6th Inf Bde and disposed in support positions between TRONES and BERNAFAY WOODS Hdqrs in the latter.

 

The quarterly Grammar School magazine, The Newburian, listed old boys who were serving in the armed forces, updating the list with information of promotions and casualties. In the late 1916 issue it listed Douglas as: SALWAY, Pte D G, Oxon & Bucks LI, attached Royal Berkshire Regiment. It is possible that he was redirected to a Royal Berkshire battalion, several of which suffered very heavy losses in the opening days of the Somme.  Sadly his service record was lost in a fire during WW2, along with around 70% of service records – so it is not possible to tell any more about his fate.
His death was announced in the local paper:


Newbury Weekly News, 5 October 1916 – Killed in Action
SALWAY. – Aug 8, killed in action, the dearly loved and only son of John and Lucy Salway of the Uplands, Newbury, aged 20 years.


Name on Newbury War Memorial

Fred's name on Newbury War Memorial

(centre)

Douglas’ body was never identified so his name is remembered on Pier 10, Face D of the massive Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.


When his father, John, died in 1920 he was buried in Newtown Road Cemetery; the headstone included remembrances of his two lost sons, baby William and soldier Douglas:


      In loving Memory of John Salway died March 17, 1920, aged 69.
      Also of William John Born Nov 6 1889 Died Nov 30 1889
      Also of Douglas John Killed on active service Aug 9 1916 aged 20 years Sons of the above
      Also of Lucy, wife of John Salway who died March 27th 1939
      Linda Gladys Salway who died Oct 29 1972 aged 30 years.

 

Douglas is also remembered on tablet 4 of the Newbury Town War Memorial and (as D G Salway) on the Newbury Grammar School war memorial. He is also remembered on two local church memorials in Newbury Baptist Church and the Newbury United Reform Church.

Thanks to JudithThomas , St Bartholomew’s School, for the details of his school career.

And to Dick Flory for the picture of Douglas, taken from the Lloyds Bank Limited Memorial Album 1914-1918.


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 Died this day:
15 December 1918
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