Francis Vosper, maternal relative: India 1917

Francis Vosper was born during July 1847 in St Sidwell, Exeter, Devon, England and died of wounds in India on 27 December 1917.

Francis Vosper was the uncle of the wife of one of my grand uncles on my mothers Priday side of the family and the actual lineage is:

  • Francis Vosper (1847 - 1917)
  • James Vosper (1797 - 1874) - father of Francis Vosper
  • Ellen Pollard Vospar (1829 - 1896) - daughter of James Vosper
  • Ellen Elizabeth Syred (1867 - 1923) - daughter of Ellen Pollard Vospar
  • Albert Sheward (1874 - 1959) - husband of Ellen Elizabeth Syred
  • Susannah (Susan) Speake (1847 - 1927) - mother of Albert Sheward
  • Mary Louisa Sheward (1880 - 1967) - daughter of Susannah (Susan) Speake
  • Alice May Priday (1917 - 2009) - daughter of Mary Louisa Sheward
  • William G Hyde - me

churchsttorquay-francisvosperHis Family

Francis Vosper's father was James Vosper, born on 8 January 1797 in St Sidwell, Exeter, Devon, England & died 22 June 1874 in 62, York St, Plymouth, Devon, England. James at various times was a Gardener, Ships Chandler & Boot Manufacturer.

James married Keziah Pollard on 13 March 1826 at St Mary Arches, Exeter, Devon, England. Keziah Pollard was born in 1801 in Crediton, Devon, England & died during March 1866 in Newton Abbot, Devon, England.

James Vosper & Keziah Pollard had a family of 7 children:

  • Ellen Pollard Vospar (1829 – 1896)
  • James Vosper (1831 – 1912)
  • William Vosper (1834 – unknown)
  • John Vosper (1841 – unknown)
  • Sarah Vosper (1844 – unknown)
  • Francis Vosper (1847 – 1917)
  • Thomas Vosper (1852 – unknown)

Francis Vosper was a Gardener and lived in Torquay, Devon, England. He married Elizabeth Jane during 1869 and they set up home at 10 Church St, Tormoham, Torquay, Devon and raised two children:

  • Frank Vosper (1870 – 1939)
  • Elizabeth May Vosper (1872 – unknown)

Image: Church St area  of modern Torquay

His Regiment

Francis Vosper enlisted in the 1st/6th Battalion (Territorial), Devonshire Regiment as a Private in 1914. He was allocated Regimental Number 4726.

In 1914 the 1st/6th Battalion (Territorial), Devonshire Regiment were based in Barnstaple as part of Wessex Division. Just before war broke out in August 1914 the units of the Division gathered on Salisbury Plain for their annual summer camp and orders arrived for precautionary measures to be taken. On the 3rd of August they broke camp and moved to take up defensive positions at the ports.

The division was mobilised for full time war service on the 5th of August and by the 10th had returned to Salisbury Plain to prepare for service overseas.

The Wessex Division was ordered to India to replace British and Indian regular army units who were to be deployed to the Western Front. They sailed from Southampton on the 9th of October, via Malta and Suez, arriving at Karachi on the 11th of November and served in 3rd (Lahore) Divisional Area at Lahore.

Britain at this time was ruler of India (the British Raj) and had to guarantee its security. When Indian Army units went Overseas to fight for the British Empire (mostly on the Western Front in Europe) their place had to be taken by someone. The obvious choice were the British Army Territorial Forces rather than experienced regular Army units that were need to take the fight to the Germans.

francisvosperHis Death

I have been unable to find any reference to actual Battalion action whilst the Division was in Lahore, India and therefore I can only conclude that Francis died of wounds sustained in a training accident.

He remained in India after his Battalion & the Wessex Division left in January 1916 to join the independent 36th Brigade, Indian Army for service in Mesopotamia, and landed at Basra on the 5th of January 1916. In the 12th of May 36th Brigade joined 14th (Indian) Division and in September 1916 they transferred to the Tigris Lines of Communication, where they remained for the rest of the war.

Francis Vosper is recorded as dying (from wounds) in India on 28 December 1917.

His Burial

Francis Vosper is comemorated on Face C of Kirkee 1914-1918 Memorial. Kirkee, also known as Khadki, Military Cantonment adjoining the large university town of Poona on the Plateau above Mumbai (Bombay), Maharashtra, India.

The Kirkee 1914-1918 Memorial commemorates more than 1,800 servicemen and women who died in India during the First World War, who are buried in civil and cantonment cemeteries in India and Pakistan where their graves were considered to be unmaintainable.