Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Neither the 1891 or the 1901 Census show any trace of the Summers family. Presumably this is because Edwin's father as a member of the British Army was posted abroad in those years and took his family with him. The earliest evidence of Edwin being in the UK is from 1904 when he attended the Secondary School on Victoria Road North, Southsea. The family were probably living at 21 Pelham Road at the time.
Edwin Summers stayed at the school for two years with successes at both the Junior and Senior Examinations of the College of Preceptors, "Bert" Summers left to become a Pupil Teacher in a local school. Thence he went to St. Luke's Training College in Exeter, and, gaining the Teacher's Certificate, was appointed to the Fratton Boys' School.

In September 1915 the 16th Hampshire Battalion was formed and shortly afterwards Edwin Summers joined as a Private, but was soon raised to the rank of Sergeant. Following a course of training at Aldershot he gained further promotion and by the time the 16th Battalion had moved to Chisledon Camp he had become qualified as Sergeant-Instructor.
From there he was sent to France with other non-commissioned officers to fill up vacancies in the D Company of the 12th Gloucester Regiment. After six months in France, and immediately following a battle at Fresnoy, three miles over Vimy Ridge, he was reported wounded and missing on 8th May, 1917. As no more was heard of him he was presumed killed in action on that day.
Sergeant Summers, who was 27 years old at the time of his death, had married Edith in 1915 and left a son born the following year. Addressing his widow the Platoon Officer wrote "I have been in some tight corners with your husband and always found him brave and cool under fire, and always bright and cheerful and a splendid example to the men under most trying conditions."
Further Information
The photograph above is taken from a memorial booklet published by Southern Grammar School from which extracts also appear above.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website lists Lance Sergeant Edwin H. Summers (31924), Gloucestershire Regiment, date of death, 08/05/1917, aged 27. He was the son of Capt. E. J. Summers and Mrs. M. A. Summers, of 21, Pelham Rd., Southsea, Hants, and husband of Edith Summers, of 31, Angerstein Rd., North End, Portsmouth.
He is remembered on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais.
Edwin Summers's name also appears on the Southern Grammar School WW1 Memorial and the Cenotaph. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War".
The officer commanding the 12th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment on the 8th May 1917 was Lt. Colonel R J Rawson. His report of the action on that day can be downloaded here (Word doc. supplied by Edwin Astill).
Tim Backhouse
December 2013