Valentine’s parents William George Lloyd (b.1859, Woolwich) and Melinda Lloyd, nee Cowell, (1867) were married in no less a church than St Martin’s in the Fields in Trafalgar Square on 1 December 1885. William at the time was an Ironmonger’s Cashier in Woolwich and their first home was on Plumstead Common at 1 Willenhall Road, SE18. Within in a year Melinda had given birth to their first son, William Harold Bennett, born around August 1886, quickly followed by Dorothy Hazel (b.1887) and Winnifred Annie (b.1889). The 1891 Census shows they had a servant called Ada Kingsford.
Valentine was born on 14 February 1895 in Plumstead. Two younger sisters, Lorna Amy (b.1898), Gwendoline Alice (b.1900), made it six children in the family by the turn of the Century.
In 1901, the 42-year-old William had bettered himself being now listed as a Managing Director, either of the company he was working for, or for his own company. The family had moved out of the area to a good size four-storey house at 49 Venner Road, near Penge East station and close to Crystal Palace Park (1901 Census), and continued to grow with the addition of two more girls – Majorie Evelyn (1902) and Vivienne Derricke (1907). If William still worked in Woolwich, it would most likely have commuted daily by train via London Bridge, as at this time Horse-drawn Trams were only just being replaced by Electric Trams and cars were in their infancy.
By 1911, William was doing well as Managing Director of his own company Lloyd and Son, Wholesale lronmongers, based at 16 Pier Road, Erith, which in those days was a thriving high street, nothing which is evident today.
The family had moved again, this time to a large 14-room house called ‘Westerland’ in Watling Street, Bexleyheath and they had a servant, Elsie Eves.The house stood on the South side of Watling Street, opposite the Lord Hill Public House (now renamed The Coach House), today there is a terrace of 1930s houses in its place, behind which is Gravel Hill Infants School. Next door Stoneyhurst, a house that stood in extensive grounds on the south side of Watling Street was the home between 1884-88 of Hyram Maxim, inventor of the Machine Gun. His invention was to be so used extensively by both sides during World War One. Knighted in 1901, Sir Hyram Maxim died in Sydenham in 1916. (maypolehistory.wikifoundry.com/page/Sir+Hiram+MAXIM)
Valentine was 16, he had been educated at Margate College (a boarding school?) and later at Dartford Grammar School, where his name now appears on its War Memorial.
In 1908, Robert Baden Powell founded the Scouts based on his book Scouting for Boys. Up and down the country boys formed themselves into Patrols and then into Troop with adult Scoutmasters. Valentine was also certainly one of the original Boy Scouts at the 1st Bexleyheath Scout Troop, which had been formed in 1909. He well may have been friends with Raymond Storer, another of the Scouts in the Troop, who went on to be the first Scoutmaster of 1st Welling Scout Troop, which was formed in the latter months of 1911. Raymond was unfortunately killed in action on 26 April 1915, aged 21. In Bexley Woods, an area favoured by early Scouts for outdoor activities and camping, their names appear together on a Memorial commemorating those former members of 1st Bexleyheath in the two world wars.
On 1 September 1913, tragedy struck when his older brother William Harold, a former soldier, died aged 27, having been resident in the ‘Metropolitan Imbecile Asylum’ at Darenth, near Dartford for several years.
Then, the following year on 2 March 1914 his father died, aged 54. Valentine was 19 and an apprentice at his father’s business, being the ‘son’ in Messrs Lloyd and Son (Wholesale Ironmongers), his career was quite mapped out for him. He had keen commercial instincts, and was regarded on every respect as a very splendid boy. He must have been anticipating a splendid future stepping into his father’s position as managing director, then later in that year war broke out and everything changed.
Valentine patriotically answered the first call in August 1914, when he joined the Public Schools University Corps, and trained at Epsom. Within a month of the outbreak of war, on 5 September, he had enlisted in The Royal Fusiliers. He went to France in 1915 with the British Expeditionary Force, which formed the extreme left wing of the Franco-British armies at the beginning of the war, with most of the German offensive being directed at it and at the adjacent French formations. On 12 February 1916, he was made Lance-Corporal and he then returned home on 16 May to take a Commission at New College, Oxford.
Back at home, possibly as a result of the changed circumstances following his father’s death, his family moved from ‘Westerland’ in Watling Street to a smaller house at 24 Park View Road, Welling, Kent (near the junction with Gipsy Road), possibly in late 1914. The house was sold to John Murgatroyd, a wool and leather merchant and his wife Mary Alice (nee Fletcher), who originally from Yorkshire had emigrated to New Zealand, but returned to England on a regular basis before the war. (See Captain Hugh Lester Murgatroyd).
On 26th September 1916, Valentine was commissioned as Second Lieutenant into the 3rd Battalion, The Leicestershire Regiment, attached to 11th Battalion, under the orders of 6th (Service) Battalion and when back in France, where he fought at La Bassee under Colonel Lord Henry Scott. He did make it home on leave for Christmas 1916.
In June 1917, he was gassed and invalided home. When recovered, contemporary accounts say he was then attached to the 53rd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers. On 9 September, he again left for France, after passing a new gas course.
He was promoted to Lieutenant on 26 March 1918. (London Gazette Edition p5328. 2 May 1918) and was awarded the Military Cross for service in 6th Battalion in France near Wallincourt “for fine work and bravery in the field, 8 October 1918” (London Gazette Edition p2377 15 February 1919). The Military Cross (MC) being the third level military decoration awarded to Officers for gallantry during active operations against the enemy.
Sadly, Valentine Lloyd was killed in action near Ovillers on 23rd October 1918, just 19 days before the war ended on 11th November 1918, having served his country for nearly the entire duration of conflict.
On his death his Colonel wrote, “He had gained enormous popularity with all the officers and men. He set a fine example to us all by his cheerfulness, courage and devotion to duty which will never be forgotten.”
Major Ernest Sopper, in a letter to his sorrowing mother, writes: “He fell leading his men most gallantly against a German machine gun position. By his death, I feel that we have lost not only one of the best officers, but also one of the most charming boys it has been my good fortune to meet. The Colonel (who was on leave on the 23rd) had a very high opinion of your son, which was shared by his Company Commander and myself. His grave, which I visited this afternoon, lies on the slope of a hill about a mile north-east of a village called Ovillers, four miles from Le Cateau. You may be proud of your son, who died as a gallant gentleman should, leaving behind a gap in the battalion which will be hard to fill.”
Valentine is buried and remembered at Vendegies-au-Boix British Cemetery (east of Cambrai), Nord, France. (Grave Reference: A. 22). At home he is remembered on the East Wickham & Welling War Memorial, on Bexleyheath’s War Memorial at the top of Oaklands Road and at Dartford Grammar School.There is also a headstone in Bexleyheath Cemetery.
This obitury of Valentine Lloyd was printed in the Winter 1918 edition of his school magazine, Dartfordian:
“By his death I feel that we have lost not only one of the best officers, but also one of the most charming boys it has ever been my good fortune to meet.” So wrote Major Sopper, of the Northumberland Fusiliers, of Lieutenant Valentine Lloyd, and we at DGS who remember can but proudly and sorrowfully echo those words.
When Lieutenant Lloyd left school, in 1911, he took up a business career, in which after the war he had been promised the splendid position of managing director, his father’s old post. He was one of the four Old Boys to join the University and Public Schools Battalion in August, 1914, the other members of quartet being Lieut. R.D. Apps, Lieut. C.H. Steadman, M.C., and Lieut. E.W. Church. Lieut. Lloyd went to Flanders with his battalion in 1915, and returned as Lance-Corporal in May, 1916, to take up a commission in the Leicestershires, and returned to France the same year. In June, 1917, he was wounded and gassed, and it was not until this year that he was fit to return to France. On September 9th Lieut. Lloyd joined a battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers and was killed in action on October 23rd while leading his men against a German machine gun post.
We all very much sympathise with Mrs. Lloyd on losing her son so near the end of hostilities.”
Former schoolfriend, Reginald D. Apps, with whom Lloyd signed up, was also killed in the war and too appears on the Dartford Grammar School roll of remembrance.
Following the end of the war, Valentine’s mother Melinda lived on until she was 93, she died in Epping on 28 April 1960, and was buried in their family plot in Bexleyheath with her husband and sons.
His elder sister Dorothy married Edmund De Gruchy Whomes (1879-1980), a Piano Tuner, at Dartford in 1909. Edmund’s father (also Edmund) was organist at Christchurch and invented the Orgapian, a combined piano and reed organ to accompany silent films in cinemas. Whomes Limited, 240-2 Broadway, Bexleyheath, (between the Golden Lion Public House and Church Road), started in 1871 by his father was run by Edmund, and later by their son Walter, it evolved from selling musical instruments to records and gramophones, later to televisions, washing machines and fridges, until 1989, when it could no longer compete with the large chain stores. Dorothy lived until she was 83 (d.1970 in Bromley).
One of his younger sisters, Vivienne, married Frederick Scott in 1932 and lived until 1999 in Chichester.
This story has been researched by volunteers. We have taken every effort to ensure its accuracy. If you are related to this soldier, or if you have any further information, please do get in touch.
Commemorated at Home
East Wickham and Welling War Memorial
Dartford Grammar School War Memorial
Royal Leicestershire Regiment at http://www.royalleicestershireregiment.org.uk/have-you-a-tiger/record/37572/?s=1
Edmund Whomes senior http://tardis.dl.ac.uk/FreeReed/organ_book/node21.html
Commonwealth War Graves Commission cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/336035/LLOYD,%20V