Samuel Herbert Bolton was bron and raised in Staffordshire where he worked as a wooden pattern maker at an ironworks. He married and had a son. In September 1914 he joined the army and in the early months of the war he was billeted in the Chelmsford area. In March 1915 he died at a military hospital in Chelmsford from meningitis, one of at least a dozen servicemen who succumbed, to an epidemic of the disease in the town in the early part of that year. He was buried in Walsall.
Samuel was born in Wednesbury, Staffordshire on 13th May 1887, the son of another Samuel Herbert Bolton and Eleanor Bolton (nee Banks). He was christened in Walsall on 19th June 1887.
The 1891 census found four year-old Samuel living with his parents, three siblings and a lodger at The Jolly Brewers pub at 16 Camp Street in Wednesbury where his father was a licensed victualler. A decade later 14 year-old Samuel was listed by the next census at 28 Western Street in Wednesbury with his parents four siblings and two elderly women, Samuel was employed as a wood stamper; his father was a stone driller.
In 1911 the census recorded Samuel, aged 23 with his parents and four siblings at 9 Stafford Street in Wednesbury. He was then employed as a wooden pattern maker at an ironworks. By then he had married (in 1908), Nellie Chambers. The couple went on to have a son, Frank Stanley Bolton (1912-1985).
On 8th September 1914 Samuel joined the army in Birmingham, initially signing up as a Territorial for four years. At the time he lived at 4 Small Street in Walsall. He was five feet seven and a half inches tall, had a chest of 34.5 inches and good vision.
BOLTON, SAMUEL HERBERT*,
Gunner, 1st Warwickshire Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery
In the early months of the war the Battery, along with comrades from other units within the South Midland Division, were billeted in the Chelmsford area. While in the town, on 2nd October 1914, Samuel agreed to serve overseas if required.
On 9th March 1915 Samuel was admitted to the Kenilworth special hospital in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford, which had been set up by the local government and military authorities in response to a severe outbreak of cerebro-spinal meningitis in the town. Samuel failed to recover from the illness and died there, aged 27, at 5 a.m. on 25th March 1915. He had served in the army for 199 days.
His body was taken home to Walsall for burial and today Samuel rests in grave 23.3.233 at Walsall (Rycroft) Cemetery.
On 3rd February 1920 Samuel's father acknowledged receipt of his memorial scroll from the army.
The military victims of the 1915 outbreak of cerebro-spinal meningitis in Chelmsford included:
- 24th January 1915
- 25th January 1915
- 8th February 1915
- 11th February 1915
- 17th February 1915
- 17th February 1915
- 19th February 1915
- 20th February 1915
- 26th February 1916
- 4th March 1915
- 22nd March 1915
- 25th March 1915