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EXITDonald Ambrose
Donald Ambrose
Born October - December 1896 - Killed in Action 21st March 1918

    Donald was the youngest of three sons born to Jethro and Charlotte Louise Ambrose of ‘Plym’, Station Road, Loughton. The family lived in the years preceding the war in ‘Huttons’, High Beech Road, Loughton. This included mother and father together with Donald’s older brothers Jethro and Cyril and his younger sisters Mary Louise and Beryl. The Ambrose boys all went to Bancrofts. As toddlers all the boys had grown up with their parents in the General Stores in Loughton which was run by their grandparents. By 1911 the family had moved to the "Huttons", Loughton address and Donald was at Bancrofts.

Father Jethro had by then moved away from his profession as draper and manager of the family’s general stores and had started up in business with his father (also Jethro) as an estate agent and auctioneer. All the family were engaged in the business and testament to its success is the fact that it only closed for business in Loughton in 2005. At the outbreak of the war Donald was barely 18 years old. Despite their youth all three Ambrose sons were to enlist. Jethro the eldest joined the Royal Garrison Artillery as a gunner and was to see service on the western front. Cyril had previously before the war served in the territorials - the 5th Battalion London Regiment - the Rifles.

Now on 22nd November 1915 Cyril joined the 2/5th Battalion of the Buffs or Royal West Kent Regiment. Both older boys were married men and while Cyril signed on at that favourite of recruiting sergeant’s St Pauls Churchyard in the city the youngest brother our Donald enlisted four days later while resident at the family’s seaside address of 88 Royal Parade, Eastbourne, Sussex. He was 19 years old and he put his name down for the self-same 5th battalion of the Buffs as had his older brother. He was keen it appears, for in addition to signing acknowledgement for his commitment to the colours for the next four years, he endorsed the entry in his own hand:

"....... for the duration of the war"

Donald’s papers indicate he was 5’6" tall and of slight build. It seems too that his hopes for the Buffs were soon to be disappointed, for, at a time when the war had truly entered an industrial level of organisation it seems the army did not need more Buffs. Instead Donald was enlisted for training into the 24th Battalion of the London regiment - The Queen’s Royal West Surreys. Here he underwent his training. Trench digging, route march after route march, he had perhaps never been fitter. The brothers were not to be separated by military red tape, however. For from the records it seems Cyril in the summer of 1916 is successful in seeking transfer into his younger brother’s battalion - The Queen’s.

And so it was that on the 31st August 1916 both Donald and his brother Cyril were reunited and left in the same troopship from Southampton to Le Havre and the front. Once in France Donald was one in the huge encampment that was the Etaples base. More training followed and then journey by slow train and literally any manner of means to his unit arriving there on 20th September. It must have been some comfort to the family back home that the brothers were together. With the accumulating losses of the Somme offensive their unit was quickly brought into the line. Then on 10.10.16 Cyril sustained a minor shrapnel wound right side which required a few days hospitalisation. Still at the front, in the March of 1917 both Cyril and Donald contracted German measles. He was hospitalised at St Omer. then Cyril received further gun shot wounds on the 15th April 1917 necessitating his removal to the Canadian hospital at Boulogne.

Only a week later, on the 23rd April Cyril returned to England sufficiently wounded as to require the loss of his right eye together with a number of other shrapnel wounds. A month later Donald would be making the same trip but in his case On the 21st May 1917 he was en route back to England to undertake training as an officer. Following his officer training and with his two older brothers back in England Donald was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the 23rd Battalion of the London Regiment - the Queen’s Royal Surreys. Now aged 21 years he returned to France to take up his first command.

That ealry Spring of 1918 the battalion wound itself in the Cambrai Sector. here as was the case with so many of our boys they formed part of the defensive shield that was to be overrun by the Operation Michael offensive. What happened to Donald is not known like hundreds of others in the fevered withdrawal he was killed and his body never found again. He is commemorated today on the huge memorial of Fauborgd’Amiens in the Pas de Calais.


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