Ivor Arthur Booth
Private 2534 Ivor Arthur Booth, A Company, 3rd Battalion Monmouthshire Regiment, who died on 21 August 1919, aged 30, by taking his own life. He is buried at Ebbw Vale Cemetery; Grave ref: K. East Border. I. 15.
He was born on 15 February 1889 to his parents, Charles and Charlotte Ann Booth. At the time of the 1891 census, Ivor had 5 older brothers and one sister who was 5 months old. Ivor’s mother died in 1895, possibly during or shortly after childbirth as the death of a baby also called Charlotte is recorded at the same time in the same registration district. According to the index of births registered in Abergavenny between 1891 and 1895, 5 other ‘Booth’ babies were born, some of whom could be Ivor’s siblings. It’s unsurprising therefore that Ivor’s father remarried in 1897 to a Fanny Teague, a widow herself.
On 9 November 1896, Ivor, together with older brother Albert, was admitted into Hereford Road Junior Boys School in Abergavenny having been transferred from Park Street Infants School. Although the school register appears to indicate near to full attendance for the years 1897 and 1898, there is a significant drop in his attendance for 1899 and no attendance figures are given for Ivor in the school register for the years after even though the register records that he did not leave school until July 1903 for ‘work’. By this time Ivor would have been 14 years of age and would have been old enough to commence full-time employment.
By time of the 1901 census, Ivor, aged 12 years, lived with at home with his father, step-mother, 2 brothers, 2 step-sisters, one of whom appears to have had a child of her own, out of wedlock. This extended family lived at 64 Cae pen-y-dre (Ethelbert Place), Abergavenny. It’s uncertain what may have become of Ivor’s other brothers and sisters; however many of these would have been old enough to have moved out of the family home by then and indeed would have been old enough to be in work.
Moving on another 10 years, by the time of the 1911 census, Ivor was employed as a coal miner and was lodging with another family at 3 Letchworth Road, Ebbw Vale.
Ivor volunteered for war service and enlisted with the Monmouthshire Regiment at Abergavenny on 6 October 1914. Whilst he was considered unfit for service by the medical officer who examined him upon enlistment, he was nevertheless placed in the reserves. His address at the time was 33 Mount Pleasant Road, Ebbw Vale. Despite the earlier misgivings about his fitness, Ivor arrived in France with the 3rd Battalion of the Monmouthshire Regiment on 13 February 1915. Ivor was injured with a gunshot wound to his right arm on 2 May 1915 during the 2nd Battle of Ypres when the 3rd Battalion of the Monmouthshire Regiment was decimated; nevertheless, Ivor was returned to his battalion on 22 May 1915. Throughout July 1915, Ivor was repeatedly re-admitted to hospital with flu and kidney problems. Finally, on 29 July 1915 he was sent back to the UK having been diagnosed with severe kidney disease and spent 3 months in hospital before being placed on ‘light duties’ in the UK. Obviously his health did not improve as he was discharged from service on 20 April 1916. His ‘military character’ at the time of his discharge was described as “very good”.
In 1917 he married Annie May Chappell (b.1891) of 30 Charles Street, Tredegar. In the first quarter of 1919, Annie May gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth, who sadly appears to have died shortly afterwards.
At the time of Ivor’s death on 21 August 1919, he was employed as a coal miner at Marine Colliery, Cwm and was living at 7 Powell’s Row, Newtown, Ebbw Vale. According to the inquest held into Ivor’s unexpected death, it was concluded that he had slashed his wife’s throat with a razor whilst in bed at home in an apparent attempt to kill her. She escaped and survived the attack. Ivor then appears to have committed suicide by slashing his own throat. Ivor was said to have been of a quiet and inoffensive nature and his actions were unexplained as they appeared to be totally uncharacteristic to his nature. The inquest concluded that his death had nothing to do with his military service; nevertheless he was allocated a CWGC gravestone and was buried at Ebbw Vale Cemetery.
Ivor’s widow, Annie May remarried Henry Hawkins in 1928. They had one son together, Charles, who was born in 1933 and who died in 2007 aged 74. Ivor’s widow, Annie May died at Pontypool in 1977 aged 86 years.
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