Rank: Private 205436
Regiment: 1st/5th Bn, Devonshire Regiment
Died: 20 July 1918
Merton Memorial Plaque
Other Memorial: Marfaux British Cemetery [Google]
PDF Download: HUTCHINGS ATH
Private ATH Hutchings, serial number 205436, served with C Company, the 1st/5th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment.
We know this because there is a newspaper cutting which records the words his commanding officer, VR Winnicott, wrote to his mother following Private Hutchings’ death. The letter refers to an AJ Hutchings, but records show no AJ Hutchings serving in the Devonshire Regiment died in the Great War. We surmise AJ and ATH are one and the same.
“I have only just heard the news about your son, Pte. A. J. Hutchings. I am most awfully sorry to hear about it, and hasten to ask you to accept my sincerest expressions of sympathy. Your son was very popular with all who knew him, both officers and men, and we shall all feel his loss very much. He was a good soldier and a fine representative of our County that we are so proud of. I cannot put into words my feelings at this time, but must ask you to believe me when I tell you how sorry I am to have to write to you like this. I was wounded last month and my letters have been delayed in reaching me. Will you please excuse pencil, but I may not use ink in bed, and I can only get on to crutches for a short time each day. If I could do anything for you, please write and let me know. I shall be glad to do all that is within my power. My home address is Hyperion, Mannamead, Plymouth. Again expressing my sympathy with you.”
That same newspaper cutting tells us that Private Hutchings was the son of Mr and Mrs Samuel Hutchings of Northwood Farm, Merton. He had gone to the Merton Sunday School, and was a regular attendee at church services.
The cutting goes on: “He joined the North Devon Hussars after the outbreak of war, serving in France, where he has laid down his life for his country.
“Rev. Leonard Westlake in a sermon paid a tribute to the above and extended to the parents and friends the deepest sympathies of the Merton Church, and in this we all join.”
The 1st/5th Battalion, a territorial force, also known as the Prince of Wales Battalion, served in India and north Africa in the earlier part of the war, but by June 1918 was on the Western Front.
On the day Private Hutchings died, the Germans launched a major offensive at the Marne in northern France, and it is known that a number of soldiers in the 1st/5th died that day.
Private Hutchings is remembered with honour on the memorial in the church at Merton, and at the Marfaux British Cemetery in France. The cemetery was built after the war ended, the graves coming from smaller cemeteries and battlefields in the Marne area of France.
* Required fields