Benjamin Baker

1880 - 1917

Benjamin studied at University College Oxford from 1899. He was quick to enlist when the First World War broke out.

Methodist minister’s son

Benjamin Wood Baker was born between July and September 1880, at Newent, Gloucestershire, where his father Rev William Baker was a Wesleyan Methodist minister. Like other ministers’ families they moved around: in 1901 they were in Yorkshire but by 1911 they were in Staffordshire.

Married

In 1899, aged 19, Benjamin began studying at University College Oxford, and surprisingly at the age of 31 he was still described as a student. He married Kathleen, who lived in Sussex, probably between 1912 and 1915.

Fought in the Somme mud

Benjamin enlisted early, in Southend, as a rifleman in the London Rifle Brigade. However, it was a long time before he reached a war zone. He was in France on 3 October 1916, and was at the Battle of Transloy Ridge.  The weather was terrible, and the heavy, clinging Somme mud and the freezing, flooded battlefield became as formidable an enemy as the Germans. The British gradually pressed forward, fighting against numerous counter attacks, trying to gain a front line on higher ground ready for a fresh offensive the following spring.

Died of wounds

In April the Rifle Brigade were in action again in the First Battle of Scarpe, the opening engagement of the Battle of Arras. Benjamin must have been wounded then, as he was evacuated from the battlefield and died of wounds on 16 April 1917. He was aged 37, and has a war grave at Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty.

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