Harold Edward Teager was born in Chelmsford and worked for his father as a gardener at Moulsham Hall Nurseries. He joined the army in November 1915 and was sent to Egypt. In October 1916 he was killed there when accidentally shot in the neck during training into the use of the Lewis gun. His home was at Moulsham Hall Nurseries.
Harold was born in Chelmsford on 17th April 1895, the son of William Teager and Martha Annie Teager (nee Creek). Harold’s father had been born in Parham, Suffolk in 1864; his mother in Chelmsford in 1868. They had married in Chelmsford late in 1889 and two years later were resident at Moulsham Hall Gardens in Chelmsford.
Harold’s five siblings (all Chelmsford-born) were George Alfred Teager (born on 4th November 1890, died 23rd May 1943), Cecil William Teager (born on 11th February 1892, died in 1967), Jessie Maud Teager (born on 3rd June 1897, died in 1980), Elise Annie Teager (born on 28th May 1899, died in 1980) and Percival Harry Teager (born on 4th March 1901, died in January 1991).
Harold’s education at Moulsham Infants School in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford began on 8th May 1899, at which time his family lived at Moulsham Hall Gardens in Chelmsford, where his father was a market gardener. The gardens were cultivated by the Teagers until 1950 and their site is now home to the Grove Tennis Club off Moulsham Drive. At the time of the 1901 census five year-old Harold was still living with his parents and five siblings at Moulsham Hall Gardens.
In 1911 the census recorded Harold, then aged 16 and employed as a gardener, living with his parents and four siblings at Moulsham Hall Gardens. His 46 year-old father was a market gardener, while his brother Cecil was an apprentice general printer.
In November 1915 Harold enlisted at Chelmsford into the 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment in 1911, serving as Private 4053 in the battalion’s C Company. The battalion was a Territorial unit formed in 1908 with its headquarters in Market Road, Chelmsford, and it contained many Chelmsford men who were to lose their lives in the war. The battalion, along with three other Essex Territorial battalions formed the 161st (Essex) Brigade in the 54th (East Anglian) Division.
By the time of Harold’s enlistment the battalion was overseas, fighting in Gallipoli, where it had a difficult time, making little progress against the Turkish Army.
With the failure of the Gallipoli campaign the 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment was withdrawn from Anzac Cove on 4th December 1915; its strength reduced by then to 13 officers and 141 other ranks, of whom six officers and 100 other ranks had served throughout the 17 weeks in Gallipoli. It had left England with 29 officers and 649 other ranks in July 1915.
The battalion landed back in Alexandria, Egypt on 17th December 1915. On 28th December 1915 it was sent to the El Hamam, Egypt where it formed part of the Western Frontier Force, On 5th March 1916 the battalion left for Mena Camp near Cairo, Egypt, before it was moved eastwards to protect the Suez Canal from Turkish attacks across the Sinai Peninsula in an area known as the Southern Canal Section. The battalion remained there for until January 1917.
TEAGER, HAROLD EDWARD,
Private, C Company, 1/5th Battalion, Essex Regiment
We don’t know when Harold arrived in Egypt but it was during the battalion’s time protecting the Suez Canal that Harold was killed, accidentally shot in in the neck on 18th October 1916 whilst being taught how to use the Lewis gun. He was aged 21. Today he lies at Suez War Memorial Cemetery, at Suez in Egypt (grave: B. 33).
The Essex Weekly News of 10th November 1916 reported:
“Pte. Harold Teager, Essex Regt., son of Mr. Teager, of Moulsham Hall Nurseries, Chelmsford, was accidentally killed on Oct 18 while receiving instruction in the use of the Lewis gun. He was shot in the neck and died instantly. Two of his comrades - V. V. Allington, of Woodham Walter, and Arthur Peacock, of Writtle, who were sitting beside him at the time - were uninjured.”
A week later the Essex County Chronicle carried an almost identical report:
“Pt. Harold Teager, Essex Regt., son of Mr. Teager, of Moulsham Hall Nurseries, Chelmsford, was accidentally killed while receiving instruction in the use of the Lewis gun, Two of his comrades, V. V. Allington, of Woodham Walter, and Arthur Peacock, of Writtle, who were sitting beside him at the time, were uninjured.”
On 19th October 1917 the Essex County Chronicle carried an in memoriam notice for Harold:
“Teager. - In loving memory of our dear Harold, accidentally died on active service in Egypt, Oct. 18th, 1916, in his 22nd year. Buried at Shalinia, Suez.
There is one link that death cannot sever;
Love and remembrance live for ever.”
Harold is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, and the Moulsham Parish Memorial, St. John’s Church, Moulsham. Harold was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal. Harold’s father died in 1945, aged 80 at Moulsham Hall Gardens; his mother died in 1958, aged 89.