PRIVATE HENRY JAMES HEWETT
MACHINE GUN CORPS
22ND OCTOBER 1918 AGE 37
BURIED: BEIRUT WAR CEMETERY, LEBANON
James Hewett had been a member of the Berkshire Yeomanry since he'd served with it in the Second South African War 1899-1902. In civilian life he was a sugar boiler in a confectionery factory but he remained a member of the Yeomanry, which became a Territorial force in 1908. At the outbreak of the First World War he opted for imperial service and was posted to Egypt with the 2nd Mounted Division in April 1915. Four months later the regiment was sent to Gallipoli where it served dismounted until the evacuation in January 1916. In March 1916 the regiment became part of the 6th Mounted Division, and in April 1918 it merged into the 17th Squadron Mounted Machine Gun Corps.
Hewett served with the Division in Egypt and Palestine until his death, taking part in all three battles of Gaza and in the capture of Lebanon in October 1918. For those who served in this part of the world, it was a totally different war from the Western Front - for the most part it was a war of movement, hot, dangerous, dusty and exhausting, but presumably for someone like Hewett exciting too. As he told his family, "I would not have missed it for anything".
The information on his medal card says that Hewett 'died', as opposed to 'died of wounds' or 'killed in action'. Like so many soldiers who served in that part of the world he could have died of dysentery or heat exhaustion or from the flu pandemic that was sweeping the world at the time.
Born in St John's Wood in 1891, Henry James Hewett was the son of Charles Hewett, who died in 1890, and his wife, Mathilda. Before his father's death the family lived at Uxmore Farm, Ipsden, which was then in Berkshire. Perhaps this is where Hewett acquired his skills in horsemanship.