2 November 2018
Henry Mason Boucher was born on 31 October 1890 to Mary Edith Victoria Boucher and Arthur Henry Boucher, M.D. He had an older brother, Arthur Elliott, and a younger sister, Juliet.
In 1901 his family were living at 50 St Andrews Street, Hertford. On that date a Henry M Boucher of the same age is listed as a pupil Ovingdean Hall school near Brighton. He is also believed to have attended Eastmans [possibly Eastman’s Preparatory School, Southsea] and Haileybury, Hertford. His father died later in 1901 age 52 and is buried at Hertford cemetery.
Henry entered Harper Adams Agricultural College for the Agricultural Diploma Course on 9 October 1908 aged 17 in preparation for a career in Land Agency and left the College in December 1910.
Haileybury school records that after leaving school he entered the Chinese Maritime Customs [there may be a connection with Eastman’s Preparatory School which was a Naval Academy].
At the outbreak of war he gave up his appointment, and came home to serve his country. He was given a commission in the 3rd Somerset Light Infantry, and went to France with the 6th Battalion. He saw much fighting on the Somme, and returned to England, wounded in September 1916, being mentioned in despatches. He was promoted Captain and rejoined his battalion in France early 1917. In August of that year he was again wounded more severely at Inverness Copse. He was for some time in hospital, but on recovery was sent to Ireland, where he was stationed until 2nd April 1918, when he was ordered to join the 1st Battalion in France.
On 14 April the Somerset Light Infantry were involved in repulsing a particularly fierce German attack. Two days later, according to the citation in the London Gazette:
"This officer encouraged his men to press on through heavy machine gun fire by going ahead of them. Later, when the enemy counter-attacked under cover of heavy trench-mortar and shell fire, he dashed up to the front line and rallied some posts which were wavering, and pushed in supports and reserve Lewis guns, breaking up the counter-attack."
For this he was awarded a posthumous military cross. He was killed by machine gun fire on 23 April 1918 when supervising his men into the trenches as they relieved the Hampshire Regiment.
Captain Boucher is remembered with honour at Chocques Military Cemetery (Cemetery/memorial reference: IV. A. 21.) and also on memorials at St Marys Walton & St Pauls Walton-in-Gordano, Somerset.
Chocques was occupied by Commonwealth forces from the late autumn of 1914 to the end of the war. The village was at one time the headquarters of I Corps and from January 1915 to April 1918, No.1 Casualty Clearing Station was posted there. Most of the burials from this period are of casualties who died at the clearing station from wounds received at the Bethune front. From April to September 1918, during the German advance on this front, the burials were carried out by field ambulances, divisions and fighting units.
Chocques Military Cemetery now contains 1,801 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 134 of them unidentified. There are also 82 German war graves, 47 being unidentified.
From April 1917 to 1 April 1918 his widowed mother, now in her early 50s, was living at St. Rode Corner, Walton, Clevedon, Somerset and working part time on the night shift as a British Red Cross Society Volunteer. The registration indicates that she had previous experience as a nurse at Headington, Oxford and at Gravesend; maybe this was how she had met her husband. Mary Boucher died in 1957 age 91.