"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible."
T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia)
ALBERT VALENTINE PALMER
Beneath this photograph in the local paper appeared the following:
"Pte. A V Palmer (Riverhead)
Royal West Kent Regiment
Died of Wounds
Mrs Palmer of 4 Myrtle Cottages, Riverhead has received the news that her son Pte Albert V Palmer Royal West Kent Regiment has died in hospital in Egypt of wounds received in action on September 22nd. He joined up in November 1914 and volunteering for foreign service, he went through the Gallipoli Campaign and afterwards went to Egypt. The Battalion which included his company, was the first to enter Jerusalem. He was 37 years of age and will be remembered by his chums as "Pedlar". Mrs Palmer has received a letter from the Chaplain in which he informs her that her son "was buried in a beautiful little cemetery situated on the outskirts of a little township called Wilhelma, which is about 10 miles East of Jaffa. If you would not think it an impertinence, I should like to express my most sincere sympathy with you in your sad bereavement." Pte.. Palmer was for over 12 years a member of the Riverhead Church Choir, and at that place of worship on Monday evening a. memorial service was conducted by the Rev. F. O'. Bell for Pte. Palmer and Norman Heath whose death we also recently announced."
Albert Valentine Palmer was the son of Mrs Jane Palmer of 4 Myrtle Cottages, Chipstead Lane, Riverhead. In the 1911 census they were the only two people present in the house. She was apparently born in Shoreham and he in Sevenoaks. He was 29 at the date of the 1911 census and was a labourer.
The main information about Albert Palmer is contained in the newspaper report to the left. His records have not survived. From the report it can be seen that he went to Gallipoli with the 2/4 Battalion RWKR. He would have undergone a two month period of "intensive training" at Bedford - leaving there on 18th July 1915. On 20th July he would have left England on the s.s. Northland arriving in Alexandria on 31st July 1915. From Alexandria the Northland proceeded to Mudros arriving on 8th August. However, the 2/4 batallion was not landed until at Suvla until 10 August - by which time the Turkish Army had reinforced crucial positions. The outcome was all but settled from the start. This was a disastrous campaign and Albert had some fortune to survive it. A link to the Suvla landings at Gallipoli appears below as a matter of interest.
Having survived Suvla, Albert would have been evacuated from there on 13th December 1915 and would then have been transferred to Alexandria in Egypt by train arriving on December 20th and then moving on immediately to Wadran near Cairo for the Battalion's first real rest since July. In August of the following year he would see action at Rumani. After that the Battalion went to "Palestine (Israel)" in 1917 and saw action at various battles throughout 1917 including the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Battles of Gaza. In December 1917 he would have been with the Battalion when it entered Jerusalem. On 12th April 1918 he made an informal military Will leaving everything to "My Mother Mrs Palmer of 4 Myrtle Cottages Chipstead Lane Riverhead Sevenoaks Kent."
The last recorded battle that the Battalion was engaged in was Tell 'Asur in Palestine.
The Battle of Tell 'Asur was, however, fought in March 1918 and he was not to die until 22nd September 1918.
In fact, his Battalion was disbanded on 13th September 1918. He should have survived the war. It is likely that he decided to join or to continue with General Allenby's forces in the Battle of Megiddo which took place between 19th and 25th September 1918. This was a notable and very successful battle against the Ottoman and German armies. If British leadership had been incompetent at Suvla the reverse was true at Megiddo. We may never know the complete picture but the most likely explanation is that Albert Palmer died from wounds suffered in this battle. The reference to him being in hospital "in Egypt" when he died is almost certainly just the product of "Egypt" being used as a general term for that theatre of war. He was clearly not buried in Egypt. The 1919 War Office document certifying the validity of his Will under the Wills Act 1837 shows his place of death as "Syria" the word "Egypt" having initially been inserted but then lined through.