Poppy Albert Edward COLMER (1888–1917) Poppy

Albert Colmer
© Images & Voices,
Oxon County Council

Albert Edward Colmer was born in Osney in Oxford on 6 August 1888, the eldest son of Albert Colmer (born in North Hill, Cornwall in 1867) and Eliza Eda Ratcliffe (born in Potterspury, Northants in 1868). His parents were married in Potterspury on 14 March 1888 and had eleven children:

  • Albert Edward Colmer (born in Osney on 6 August 1888)
  • Eda Louisa Colmer (born in Cowley St John parish in 1889, registered fourth quarter)
  • Lucy Colmer (born in Cowley St John parish on 1 February 1891 and baptised at SS Mary & John Church on 5 April 1891)
  • Ethel Colmer (born in Cowley St John parish on 12 February 1893 and baptised at SS Mary & John Church on 16 April 1893)
  • Winifred May Colmer (born in Cowley St John parish on 16 May 1894 and baptised at SS Mary & John Church on 19 July 1894)
  • Charles Colmer (born at 64 Hayfield Road, Oxford on 17 September 1898 and baptised at St Margaret’s Church on 20 November 1898)
  • Margaret Alice Colmer (born at 64 Hayfield Road, Oxford, on 16 February 1900 and baptised at St Margaret’s Church on 4 May 1900)
  • Dora Annie Colmer (born at 64 Hayfield Road, Oxford on 8 July 1902, baptised at St Margaret’s Church on 10 September 1902)
  • William Colmer (born at 64 Hayfield Road, Oxford on 20 October 1903 and baptised at St Margaret’s Church on 10 December 1903)
  • Isaac John Colmer (born at 64 Hayfield Road, Oxford on 5 September 1905 and baptised at St Margaret’s Church on 15 February 1906)
  • Sybil Colmer (born at 64 Hayfield Road, Oxford in 1908, registered third quarter, and baptised at St Margaret’s Church on 11 September 1908).

Albert’s father was a jobbing gardener, and his parents appear to have started their married life in Osney. By 1889 they had moved to Cowley St John parish in east Oxford, and the 1891 census shows them at 31 Randolph Street. Albert was then two years old. They were still there when Winifred was baptised in July 1894.

In 1895 the family moved to 64 Hayfield Road (then in SS Philip & James parish, but from 1896 in the new St Margaret’s parish). They were living here at the time of the 1901 census and again in 1911, when ten of the eleven children were still at home with their parents. Albert (22) was now working as a bank porter, and three of his sisters were servants.

On 15 August 1914 Albert Edward Colmer married Bessie Corke (born in 1888, registered second quarter in the Tonbridge registration district) at St Margaret’s Church. He was still working as a bank messenger, and she was a cook at 78 Banbury Road. They moved into 78 Hayfield Road just after their marriage and had one daughter:

  • Elsie Eda Colmer (born in 1915, registered third quarter, and baptised at St Margaret’s Church on 12 September 1915).

Baptism of Albert Colmer's daughterAlbert Colmer’s daughter was baptised by Sidney Dunstan, who is also listed on the St Margaret’s war memorial

Colmer's grave

Poppy In the First World War Albert Colmer originally enlisted in c.1916 in the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars (Service No. 3340). On 15 December 1916 he transferred to the 1st/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, where he served as a Private (Service No. 7535, later changed to 203284).

He was killed in action in France at the age of 28 on 26 March 1917 during the Peronne–Ronssoy advance.

He was originally buried at Marquaix but after the Armistice was reburied in Tincourt New British Cemetery (X.A.19). He is also remembered on the war memorial outside St Margaret’s Church in north Oxford.

Left: Photograph of A. E. Colmer’s grave in France, kindly supplied by British War Graves. The text reads:

[Emblem of the OBLI]

203284 PRIVATE
A. E. COLMER
OXFORD & BUCKS LIGHT INF
26TH MARCH 1917


St Margaret's Church War Memorial

After the War

Albert’s parents
  • Albert's parents remained at 64 Hayfield Road for the rest of their lives. His mother Eliza Eda Colmer died at the age of 68 in the fourth quarter of 1936, and his father Albert Colmer on 16 December 1944 at the age of 77.
Albert’s wife and daughter
  • Mrs Bessie Colmer continued to live with her only daughter, Elsie Eda Colmer, at 78 Hayfield Road. Elsie married Frederick Arthur Townsend, a serving soldier, at St Margaret’s Church on 30 December 1943. Elsie (28) was then working as a telephonist, and her father was described as a “deceased bank messenger”. Mrs Colmer still lived in the house in 1956.
Albert’s siblings: marriages and children
  • Lucy Colmer (born 1891) married Stephen Rhymes on 9 May 1912 at St Margaret’s Church.
  • Eda Louisa Colmer (born 1889) married William Mitchell at St Margaret’s Church on 15 August 1914
  • Winifred May Colmer (born 1894) married Herbert L. Jackson in 1918 (third quarter, Headington district, but not at St Margaret’s Church)
  • Charles Colmer (born 1898) married Winifred M. Jakeman in 1935 (second quarter, Oxford district, but not at St Margaret’s Church)
  • Dora Annie Colmer (born 1902) married Harry Baskerville at St Margaret’s Church on 5 February 1925
  • William Colmer (born 1903) married Lilian E. Pearce in 1926 (first quarter, Headington registration district, but not at St Margaret’s Church)
  • Sybil Colmer (born 1908) married Arthur Ernest Norridge at St Margaret’s Church on 17 December 1932

See also

  • CWGC: COLMER, A. E.
  • Oxford Journal Illustrated, 18 April 1917, “Heroes of the War”: photograph of Albert Colmer, who had died five weeks earlier
  • War Diary of the 1/4th Battalion Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. Compiled by Major P. Pickford (1919), which describes the Peronne–Ronssoy advance in which Colmer died and gives details of his burial
  • Wikipedia: Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

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