Edward Robert Small

Rank Private
Service No G/20007
Date of Death 26/02/1917
Age 40
Service/Regiment The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) 7th Battalion.
Memorial Thiepval Memorial, France. This memorial to the missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.


Edward was born on 6th January 1877 and baptised at St Mary’s, Bryanston Square, Westminster on 7th February 1877 with his brother Arthur Vivian (b.1875). Besides Edward and Arthur, his parents, James Edward and Edith Amelia Small, had five other children; Amy Edith (b.1873), Kate Evelyn (b.1881), Marguerite Esme (b. 1888) and twins, Percy Howard and Arnold Rowland (b.1893).

In the 1881 census, the family were listed as living at 14 Upper Baker Street, Marylebone, London and Edward’s father worked as an umbrella manufacturer. By the time of the 1901 census the family were living at Stamford Villa, Long Lane, Finchley and Edward’s father’s is employed as a ‘school attendance officer’, while Amy is a post office clerk, Arthur a bank clerk and Edward an insurance office clerk. All the children are still living at home. The family appear regularly in the parish records of St Paul’s, particularly in giving to the East End Window fund, which suggests that they were probably members of the church.

By the time of the census of 1911, Edward was residing with his mother at 471, Archway Road, Highgate. Edward worked as an insurance clerk, whilst Arthur was a bank clerk, Amy was a civil service clerk and Marguerite was a civil service telegraphist. The twins, Percy and Arnold, were a bank clerk and a mercantile clerk (in exports) respectively.

Edward married Margaret Mary Brown (d. 1960 in Finchley) and they had four children: Winifred Margaret (b. 1912), who was baptised on 8th June 1913 in St Luke’s Finchley, Edward William (b. 1913), who was baptised in St Luke’s on 30th August 1914, Douglas Percy Roy and Dorothy Edith Kate (1915-1996), who was baptised in St Luke’s on 11th July 1915. The baptism registers indicate that Edward was employed as an assurance clerk and that they lived at ‘Blackheath’, Holmwood Gardens. Interestingly, Margaret and all four children are listed as living at 6, Holmwood Gardens in the 1938 Electoral Register.

Edward enlisted in the 5th Battalion of the Buffs and was transferred to the 7th Battalion of the Buffs (East Kent). The Battalion embarked from Folkestone on 27th July 1915. They deployed to the Somme, occupying trenches opposite the village of Fricourt. Here, on 1st September, they had their first real taste of action. This set the pattern for many months spent in the same region until 1st July when they took part in the Battle of the Somme, with the task of clearing craters from the mines exploded under the Germans at Carnoy. The battalion was fully engaged throughout the Somme struggles. The 7th then went into rest in the Abbeville area, before returning to the Somme for continuing fighting. Edward was killed in action while attending to the wounded on the Western Front.

The May 1917 monthly magazine of St Luke’s Finchley says that Edward was ‘killed while helping the wounded in France … Mr Small was one of the first to occupy a house in Holmwood Gardens, his first home after his marriage. He leaves a wife and four young children, the youngest about two months old. The wife is very seriously ill.’