Rank or Title
Date of Birth
Date of Death
28 Sep 1916
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
War Memorial Location
Soldier or Civilian
Temporary Sec-Lieut Herbert George Merchant, 9th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment attached to the 7th Battalion, was killed in action on the Somme on September 28th, 1916. He was aged 22.
Born in Luton, he was the son of house furnisher and dealer James Herbert Merchant and his wife Ada Maud Ruth (nee Barford), of 134 Castle Street, Luton [now part of London Road]. A letter from a fellow officer informed his parents that Herbert was killed by a sniper within three seconds of the Battalion going into action on what may have been his first visit to the trenches as an officer.
Sec-Lieut Merchant, more familiarly known as George, was educated at Luton Modern School and then proceeded to Eastbourne for business training to enable him to carry on the family furnishing business of F. Merchant and Sons, Manchester Street, Luton. After five years in Eastbourne he entered the Public Schools Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers as a private in September 1914.
He went to France with that Battalion in November 1915 and spent the following Christmas in the fighting line. He remained at the Front until March 1916, when he was one of about 125 men sent backto England to join a Cadet School in the West Country. There he was given the rank of corporal and, after four months' training, passed examinations to gain his commission.
Lieut Merchant was gazetted on August 5th, 1916, to a Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment that was subsequently broken up and then attached to the 7th Battalion with some 30 colleagues from Cadet School. On arrival in France he was posted to a training school for officers, and he had been killed before his parents were aware he was in the fighting line.
However, two days before his death he wrote to say he and his men had been served out with shrapnel helmets and other trench accoutrements and he anticipated it would not be long before they were in the first line.