WW1 - Surnames starting with the letter C. 

Henry Whitaker Coombs

Ship/Rgn/Sqn No:18th Bn
Name of Rgt or Ship:Northumberland Fusiliers
How Died:Died of Wounds
Country of burial:FranceGrave Photo:Yes
Cemetery or Memorial:Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension
Town Memorial:Not Listed
Extra Information:
Born during the March quarter 1893 in the Frome R.D. - ref: 5c/438, the
only son of Rev. Arthur Henry & Mary Sophia Whitaker Coombs (nee

1901 Census - Cook Memorial Cottages, 8, 9 & 10 High Street, Melbourne,
Shardlow, Derbyshire.   Son - aged: 8 - born: Frome, Somerset.   Head of
household - Mary S.W. Coombs - Wife - aged: 32 - born: Wiltshire.  Plus 2
younger sisters and 1 domestic servant.

1911 Census - Atkinson Road, Ashton-Upon-Mersey.   Son - aged: 18 - Scholar
- born: Frome, Somerset.   Head of household - Arthur Henry Coombs -
Married - aged: 54 - occ: Baptist Minister - born: Frome, Somerset.   Also
Mary Sophia Whitaker Coombs - Wife - aged: 42 - born: Bratton, Wiltshire. 
Plus 2 younger sisters.

Rev. Coombs was formerly the minister at the Oakfield Rd Baptist Chapel,
Sale, later of Downton.

Henry was educated at Kingsmead School, Hoylake, the Manchester Grammar
School and Corpus Christie College, Oxford University where he obtained a
scholarship for mathmatics.  He qualified with a B.A. Degree and C.C.C.
Oxon.   He was the captain of the university cricket team.     Later
employed as a junior master at Wellington College.

Lt Coombs enlisted in August 1914.   Served with the 18th (Service)
Battalion (1st Tyneside Pioneers) Northumberland Rgt - part of the 34th

He took part in the attack at La Boiselle 01/07 - at the Glory Hole just
off the Albert-Bapaume Road and in front of the Village.   'C' Company
assisted the Tyneside Scottish - 102nd Brigade, during their costly
assault.   Just south the remainder of the Battalion were in Bécourt Wood
and from there rendered great assistance to the Royal Scots, Lincolnshire &
Suffolk Regiments of 101st Brigade situated on the right of the 34th
Division's attack.   Two mines were blown at La Boiselle Village on the 1st
July 1916 - 'Y' Sap mine in the centre of the Villge on the north side of
the Roman road and La Boiselle mine a few hundred yards to the south of
that road, down in Sausage Valley.  Houses are being built on the now
filled in 'Y' Sap crater, but the huge La Boiselle crater is still there
and is now a memorial - to the hundreds of Germans killed when it was
detonated and the British that secured it.

Sausage Valley was so named after a German look-out blimp that flew in that
valley situated to the south of the Roman road and Mash Valley was
inevitably the name given to the Valley to the north of that road.

12 men from the 18th Bn were killed on the 1st July and one died of his
wounds on the 2nd.   Only the one officer from that Battalion died in that
engagement - Lt. Coombs. 

Death reported in the 07/07/1916 edition of the Altrincham Guardian.

French M.I. - "B.A..C.C.C. Oxon - In Christo vivificabitur".c

Listed in the Guardian Year Book - Roll of Honour for 1917.  Commemorated
in the Manchester Grammar School WW1 Memorial Book, but not their  Main War
Memorial.  Commemorated on the CCC Oxford Roll of Honour.

The following has been extracted from the CCC Roll of Honour - see

COOMBS, (Henry) Whitaker (CCC 1911-1914)

Born Frome, Somerset, 7 January 1893, only son of the Revd Arthur Henry
Coombs, Baptist Minister, of Sale, Manchester.
Educated Manchester Grammar School 1909-1911.
Scholar; 1 Mathematics Moderations 1912; 2 Mathematics 1914; BA 1914. 
Secretary, Association Football Club 1912-1913, Captain 1913-1914;
Secretary, Cricket 1913, Captain 1914.
Assistant Mathematics Master, Wellington College, Berkshire 1914.
Fiancé of Phyllis Hope [Taunton].
Military service WWI 1915-1916 (service commenced January 1915): 
Lieutenant, Northumberland Fusiliers.  France, 1916.  Died on 2 July 1916,
of wounds received in action on the Somme (aged 23).
From Pelican Record Vol. XIII, No. 5:

I well remember the scene at the lower end of the Scholars’ table on the
first day of October Term, 1911, when the new Scholars were eyeing each
other in the rather furtive manner of Freshmen eager to make friends but
rather afraid to start.  Several of us, more bold than the rest, had formed
a small coterie, when we noticed opposite us a quiet youth with a firm chin
and a slightly drooping eyelid.  We soon got to know him, and quickly
became friends.  He was Henry Whitaker Coombs, know to as later as
“Cherub” or Whitaker, to distinguish him from the venerable Henry
Coombs, the Common Room man.
Throughout his ‘Varsity Career he maintained that quiet air of reserve,
but before he left he was the most popular man of his year – and no
wonder, because he was undoubtedly the finest character.  If he had chosen
to specialise he could have made a ‘Varsity reputation for himself in
nearly any single branch of work or games, but he preferred to distribute
his energies, and thus while sacrificing his chance of a Blue or a
‘Varsity Prize he contributed more than anyone else to helping the
College in every branch of games, to developing its social life, and by his
high character to showing us a true ideal of the very best type of English
gentleman.  He was no narrow Puritan, but he had definite principles of
honour and right, which while never obtruding unnecessarily he was always
ready to maintain by example and argument against the shallow paradoxes
which a certain type of Oxford Intellectual delights to propound.  I well
remember a discussion between us about the most intimate affairs of life,
when I adopted a cynical and sophistical attitude which he upset with a
mixture of sturdy common sense and irrefutable logic.  I refused to accept
his arguments at the time, but I went away convinced in heart and more than
half ashamed of myself.   
Coombs was undoubtedly a born athlete.  Tall and wiry, he never seemed to
have a spare ounce of flesh on him, and was always in perfect condition,
due largely to his temperance in every form of self-indulgence: in addition
he possessed a cool head and that perfect co-ordination of eye and wrist
which goes so far in every form of game.  In his first year, besides
getting his College colours for “soccer” and cricket, he rowed bow in
the Torpid which made six bumps and brought us into the first division. 
Though weighing little more than nine stone, he was as strong as a horse,
and could put in the work of a man two stone heavier: in addition, he rowed
a very pretty blade, and would doubtless have got into the Eight if cricket
had not claimed him.  In his last year Coombs was captain of the soccer and
cricket teams, both very successful, and in addition he played rugger,
hockey, and tennis for the College in his spare afternoons.  At soccer he
was a tower of strength as back.  At cricket, after he had scored three
centuries running in College matches, the ‘Varsity authorities deigned to
notice his existence by giving him his Authentics in his last year.  It was
perhaps worth recording that on this occasion the little boys at Lynam’s
School, to whom he was then teaching mathematics, clubbed together and
presented him with an Authentics tie.  Such was the admiration with which
he had inspired them.  If he had been at a big athletic college there is
little doubt that he would have got his Blue at both soccer and cricket;
but had he been given the chance of beginning his ‘Varsity career again
and a free choice of a College, I am certain that he would still have
chosen Corpus.
Of his mathematical attainments I am hardly in a position to judge; suffice
it to say that he was a College Scholar, obtained a First in Honour Mods,
and would undoubtedly have obtained a First in Finals and probably a
‘Varsity prize had it not been for his multitudinous other activities. 
But his intellectual interests were much wider than mathematics alone.  He
belonged to every literary as well as every sporting club in Corpus, and
was as capable of holding his own in argument and debate as he was on the
athletic field.  He had a delicate and subtle sense of humour, and after
listening attentively to some bombastic harangue he would quietly demolish
it with a few telling phrases or a witty reductio ad absurdum.
It is impossible in a short account to describe every side of his
character.  Perhaps not everyone knew that he spent most Spring Sunday
afternoons “birding” – i.e. roaming the countryside with a faithful
friend to take photographs of birds’ nests, and often climbing
inaccessible trees to do so.  He was very keen on music, and generally
attended the Balliol concerts.  He was deeply interested in all social
problems, and was an active supporter of the Social Science Club.  But
above and beyond all his manifold interests, his athletic achievements and
his great intellectual gifts, what will always live with his friends as an
everlasting memory is his innate modesty and entire absence of “swank”,
his clean and lofty ideals, and the sterling force of character which
pervaded all he did.
Of his military career I know little, for though I was several times
stationed near him, we always just failed to meet; but I heard that he was
an excellent officer, as he could not fail to be.  He was in truth, a
perfect gentile knighte, a staunch friend, a brave man, and a true
Christian, and his life was an example to all of Honour and Chivalry.

Memorials found on:
Manchester Grammar School
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