Edward Ray Rashbrooke was born in Woodford in 1895. He was the son of Edward, a domestic gardener, and Hannah Rashbrooke. In 1901, the family was living at 8 Norfolk Villas, Peel Road, South Woodford. Edward was a houseboy for Mrs Smith Harrison at Elmhurst, a large house in South Woodford. By 1911, Edward had joined the army and was a Private in the 1st Loyal, North Lancashire Regiment at Bhurtpore Barracks, South Tidworth, Wiltshire. His family remained at 8 Norfolk Villas and later moved to 49 Peel Rd, South Woodford.
Edward was sent to France on 12th August 1914, only eight days after Britain declared war. He left from Southampton on the SS Agapenor to Le Havre. Edward was a masseur and trainer to army boxers and footballers at Ypres.
As part of the battle of the Aisne, Edward’s battalion crossed the River Aisne at Bourg on 13th September 1914 advancing towards Chemin des Dames. Seventeen men died during this mission. Edward was initially reported as ‘Missing Probably Killed’. Sometime later, his death –‘Killed in Action’ – was formally confirmed to parents when they were told he had ’been seen to fall in a charge during the Battle of Ypres‘. His body was not recovered.
Edward Ray Rashbrooke is believed to be the first Woodford-born resident to die due to enemy action.
Research by Adrian Lee and Redbridge Museum
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Battlefields14-18 - 1LNLR.