Mudd H F

Gunner 246455 Henry Farrow Mudd, 81st Battalion Royal Field Artillery, (formerly Private SE/13628 Army Veterinary Corps)


Killed in action, 18th October, 1918

Henry Farrow Mudd was born in Kildale on 13th August, 1895. He was the son of Joseph Benjamin Mudd, a farmer, and Sarah Farrow who had married in Stokesley in 1886. Sarah was the daughter of Robert Farrow who was an innkeeper, auctioneer and butcher in the town. Robert was the proprietor of the Bay Horse in the market place for many years and a man of some substance, as when Robert died in 1896 he left an estate of £5367 4s 10d, a considerable sum of money at that time.

Henry was the youngest of 5 children of the marriage, having one brother, Joseph Robert, and three sisters : Sarah Cecily, Mary and Eleanor.

In 1891 the family were living in Kildale but Joseph Benjamin Mudd died in 1899 at the age of 40 leaving his widow Sarah to support a family of five children all under the age of 11. Sarah was granted the administration of Joseph’s estate, which amounted to £403 2s 8d, so they were far from destitute. Joseph’s will actually described him as a ‘cattle dealer of Stokesley’, so it seems that the family had already moved into the town before his death.

Two years later, in the census of 1901 Sarah is listed as living in High Street Stokesley with her 5 children. Her occupation was given as Draper, so in all probability she worked in her brother’s shop on the north side of the High Street. However, Sarah herself sadly died in 1906 at early age of 39. Probate of her will was granted on 29th December 1908 to Charles Farrow, draper, to the value of £134 12s 8d.

In 1911, with no surviving parents, Henryand his siblings were living apart. Sarah Cecily was living in Burnley with her husband James Edward McFarlane and their 2 children, Joseph was a shop assistant in Stokesley, Eleanor was a servant in Knaresborough, Mary was living with her grandmother, Sarah Farrow, in Stokesley where she later worked at the Manor House Hospital as a VAD nurse. There is no Henry Farrow Mudd listed in the 1911 Census, though a Henry Mudd, aged 15, is lodging at Charles Street, Seaton Carew, where he is listed as an apprentice butcher, born in Northallerton.

The Book of Remembrance gives no location or occupation for Henry, but says that he "enlisted early in the War and went to France in November 1914". An early posting to France is often be an indication that a man was in the regular army before the War or had enlisted even earlier. However, according to “Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 – 1918”, Henry Farrow Mudd, resident of Stokesley enlisted at Woolwich, and was at first in the Army Veterinary Corps (AVC). As the AVC had a depot in Woolwich, it is also possible that Harry went there to enlist specifically into that service. The records of the AVC also state that Private Mudd disembarked in France on 5th December 1915, a date which would seem to be confirmed by his award of the 1915 Star.

The origins of the AVC date back to 1896 when there was a public outcry about the scandalous death rate among horses in the British Army. Following mistakes in the Boer War, it emerged that more horses had been lost due to ignorance and poor farriery than were killed by the enemy. The Army Veterinary Service was reformed, and in 1903 a warrant created the AVC which consisted of NCOs and men employed in veterinary duties. In 1906 this unit was combined with the Army Veterinary Department to become the RAVC.

At the outbreak of WW1 there were 364 officers which, by the end of the war had increased in number by 1,306, and at the same time Other Ranks rose from 934 to 41,755. Their role at that time was to care for horses, which were vital to the supply chain and to the movement of artillery.

2.5 million “admissions” (perhaps we might call them ‘horse casualties’!) were made on the Western Front alone during the Great War, and 80% of the animals treated by the AVC were able to return to duty. Since 1946 the RAVC has also been responsible for dogs.1

As already noted, Henry's military record shows that he landed in France on 5th December, 1915, and although on one local war memorial he is listed as a corporal in the RAVC2, he was at some point transferred from the AVC to the Royal Horse Artillery and then to the Royal Field Artillery with the rank of Gunner. The Book of Remembrance tells us that he was wounded several times and was hospitalised in England. Following his last return to France he was killed on 18th October 1918 in the British advance which led to the Armistice just three weeks later.

The Book of Remembrance gives the information that Gunner Mudd was with the 81st Battery, 5th Army Brigade RFA. RFA batteries can be difficult to research as they were moved around the Front to wherever they were needed; however, by checking Army records we can be sure that in October 1918 the 81st Battery, 5th Brigade was attached to the 4th Army. In view of where Henry was buried and of the fact that the Book of Remembrance says that he was killed near Andigny Farm it would appear that he was fighting in the Picardy campaign known as the Battle of the Selle.

When in early October 1918 the advancing troops of the 4th Army reached the Selle river near the German stronghold of Le Cateau, they were faced with 3 obstacles: the river itself, a railway embankment on the far bank, and a ridge above the embankment. It was decided therefore to begin their attack at night. Two weeks were spent in preparing for this battle and for the first time in the course of war commanders directed troops nearest to them rather than getting men to reform into their own divisions before fresh plans and orders were issued. The attack began on the night of the 17th October in fog along a 10 mile front. After crossing the river the attackers were engaged in a “dogfight”, and severe fighting lasted until 20th October, when the Germans were defeated. It has been suggested that this success was largely due to the command policy, enabling the British Commanders to react in ways which the inflexible German Command structures could not.3
However, Gunner Henry Farrow Mudd did not live to see this successful outcome, as he fell on 18th October, 1918, in the course of a fierce German counter bombardment of his unit's new positions.

The records for Bohain Cemetery where he was originally buried show that he was one of 4 men of his unit killed on that same day. He was 23 years old and was awarded the British War Medal, the Victory Medal and the 1915 Star. His body now lies in Plot V A 33 in the Premont British Cemetery which lies southwest of Le Cateau and Andigny in the Department of Aisne in Picardy.4

Henry is also remembered on the Middlesbrough War Memorial at the entrance of Albert Park as well as on the Hutton Rudby War Memorial.

Administration of Henry’s will was granted on 6th January in London to Henry’s elder brother, Joseph Robert Mudd of Hutton Rudby, who was a Private in the AVC. Henry's effects totalled £412 12s

In December 1918, Henry Farrow Mudd's commanding officer wrote to the bereaved family in answer to a request for further information about the circumstances in which Gunner Mudd met his end. We are fortunate indeed to have received a digital copy of the original hand written letter from Henry's grand-nephew Anthony Wilson. We reproduce it below with his permission and our sincere thanks for providing a copy of this extremely rare and precious family memento for our use. Other valuable information provided by Anthony is listed below.5

Below: Henry Farrow Mudd's Death - as told by his Commander's 3 page letter. Below Right: Joseph Robert Mudd - Henry Farrow Mudd's brother & heir




Left: Sarah Farrow Mudd (Henry's Mother)
Right: Joseph Benjamin Mudd (Henry's Father)

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