Poppy Frederick Herbert EMMET (1890–1916) Poppy

Emmet in uniform
Herbert Emmet in 1915

Frederick Herbert Emmet (known as Herbert Emmet) was born at Notting Hill on 27 February 1890, the youngest son of William Edward Emmet (born in Kensington in 1847) and Ellen Maude Greenstreet (born in Pattingham, Staffordshire in c.1849). His parents were married in the Wolverhampton Registration district in the first quarter of 1874, and had twelve children:

  • Cyril William Emmet (born in Albury, Surrey in on 24 March 1875)
  • Percy Barnabas Emmet (born in Berkhamsted in 1876, registered third quarter)
  • Mary Elizabeth Emmet (born in Berkhamsted, registered first quarter of 1878)
  • Alfred Martin Emmet (born in Middlesex in 1879, registered second quarter; died aged 17 in the fourth quarter of 1896)
  • Edward Fletcher Emmet (born in West Drayton in 1880, registered second quarter)
  • Constance Maude Emmet (born in West Drayton 1881, registered fourth quarter)
  • Arthur George Emmet (born in West Drayton in 1882, registered fourth quarter)
  • Lucy Margaret Emmet (born in West Drayton in 1883, registered fourth quarter)
  • Lilly Eveline Emmet (born in West Drayton in 1884, registered fourth quarter)
  • Edith Veronica Emmet (born in Notting Hill in 1886, registered in Kensington second quarter)
  • (Frederick) Herbert Emmet (born in Notting Hill on 27 February 1890, registered in Kensington second quarter)
  • Dorothy Ruth Emmet (born in 1891, registered in Kensington fourth quarter; died in the same quarter).

In 1871 Herbert’s father William Edward Emmet was Curate of St George’s in Bloomsbury Square, two years before his marriage. In 1879 he became Vicar of West Drayton, and was living with his family at 1 Church Road there at the time of the 1881 census.

In about 1885 Herbert’s father became Vicar of St Mark’s in Notting Hill, the family moved back to London. At the time of the 1891 census (when Herbert was one) they were living at 111 Ladbroke Grove, Kensington. They were still there in 1901, with three servants (a nurse, cook, and housemaid).

In 1902 Herbert’s father exchanged his living for that of Whaddon and his family moved to Buckinghamshire. Herbert then went to a school near Winslow, and proceeded to Lancing College in September 1903, he was in News House from September 1903 to July 1909. He was a Sergeant in the Officer Training Corps and was appointed as a House Captain in 1908.

Herbert decided at school that he wanted to take Holy Orders, and went up to Keble College, Oxford in October 1909, where he was a member of the Officer Training Corps. Around the time he came up to Oxford his parents moved to 18 Staverton Road in the city, where they can be seen in the 1911 census. Four of their children were still living at home, including Herbert (21), who must have been on his Easter vacation. The family then had just two servants (a cook and a parlourmaid).

In about 1912 Herbert’s family moved to 161 Woodstock Road in St Margaret’s parish. In that year Herbert was awarded a Second Class degree in History, and stayed on another year reading Theology. He then decided to gain experience by a short period of teaching before entering a theological college, and in September 1913 obtained a post as Assistant Master at Allen House, Woking, where he remained until July 1914.

Herbert Emmet

Poppy Frederick Herbert Emmet joined the Officer Training Corps camp in August 1914, right at the start of the war. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Leicestershire Regiment on 19 September 1914, and was promoted to Captain in January 1915.

He went to the front in July 1915, and on the 13th of that month the 9th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment were ordered forward with the rest of their Brigade to attack the German second line positions on Bazentin Ridge between Bazentin-le Petit and Mametz Wood the following day.

They moved forward through the shattered remains of Mametz Wood and under shell fire. They were to be in support of two other Leicestershire battalions and were to “mop up” any Germans the leading waves had missed or bypassed. At 3.25 am the whistles blew and the leading waves moved forward from the shelter of the wood and into the open, all the time under a canopy of British shells heading towards the German first line. It was a race against time to get across No Man’s Land before the enemy machine guns could be brought into action. The 6th Leicesters managed to enter the enemy first line and began bombing down the trench to assist the 7th Battalion who were under murderous fire from a machine gun. After heavy fighting the German first line fell and the Leicesters, with the 9th Battalion now engaged in the fighting, moved forward to their second objective of Bazentin Wood. The wood was now a tangled maze of fallen trees which contained three lines of German trenches each with their own wire entanglements in front of them. Despite these obstacles and fierce resistance from the defenders the wood had fallen to the Leicesters by 4 pm after over twelve hours of continuous fighting.

Captain Emmet was killed at the age of 26 on 14 July 1916 leading a charge on a German machine gun position, just outside the North West Corner of Bazentin-le-Petit wood, where there was stubborn opposition. He had gathered around 50 men of several battalions to make an attack on this area: of these men, 36 were hit by machine gun fire before they had got 20 yards from the wood, including Captain Emmet.

Emmet has no known grave, although his Colonel informed his mother that he was probably buried in Bazentin-le-Petit Wood. His battalion suffered 412 casualties in the fighting there, and they were buried immediately in a mass grave. Many of these soldiers were recovered to Serre No 2 cemetery some time later, and he may be one of the unknown officers buried in that cemetery.

His memoirs were privately printed as Frederick Herbert Emmet, killed in France, 14th July, 1916: a memoir.

Emmet’s brief obituary in The Times of 24 July 1916 reads as follows:

Captain Frederic Herbert Emmet, Leicestershire Regiment, was the sixth and youngest son of the Rev. W. E. Emmet, of 161, Woodstock-road, Oxford, formerly vicar of St. Mark’s, Notting-Hill. He was born in 1890, and educated at Lancing College and Keble College, and was a keen member of the O.T.C. at both places. After taking his degree he was for a short time assistant master at Allen House, Woking. His intention was to proceed to a theological college, with a view to ordination. In August, 1914, he joined the O.T.C. Camp at Aldershot, and shortly afterwards received a commission. In January, 1915, he was promoted to captain, and went to the front in the following July. He was killed leading his men. His colonel writes:— “He had such a charming personality that we all feel his loss very deeply. He met his death in a most gallant manner.”

Administration was granted in London to his brother, Edward Fletcher Emmet, solicitor, on 5 September 1916. He left £179 6s. 6d.

Emmet on Keble College war memorial

Frederick Emmet is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 2C and 3A); on the Pattingham War Memorial; and on the war memorial outside St Margaret’s Church in north Oxford. He is also listed on the memorial in Keble College Chapel (left)


St Margaret's Church War Memorial

After the War

Herbert’s parents
  • Herbert's parents continued to live at 161 Woodstock Road until their deaths. His mother Ellen Maude Emmet died at the age of 73 on 12 January 1923, and his father the Revd William Edward Emmet the age of 78 on 16 December 1925. Two or more of Herbert’s sisters, the Misses Emmet, are listed at the house in Kelly’s Directory for 1927, but are gone the following year.
Herbert’s surviving brothers
  • Cyril William Emmet (born 1875) became Chaplain and Fellow University College, Oxford and Vice-Principal of Ripon Hall, Oxford. He married Gertrude Julia Weir in the third quarter of 1902 in the Kensington registration district, and they had one son and two daughters. He lived at 14 Lathbury Road, and died on 22 July 1923. See his entry in Who Was Who.
  • Percy Barnabas Emmet (born 1876) married Sibylla Frances Baker in 1920, and died in 1963.
  • Edward Fletcher Emmet (born 1880) became a solicitor and married Mabel Ernestine Eardley-Wilmot, daughter of Francis Eardley-Wilmot and Lucy Mary Emily Prynne, on 11 May 1907. He died on 21 November 1967.

See also


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