The combined War Memorials of four Blandford Schools.
Private Allan Gordon Munden
Born in Blandford Dec 1898 his father, Ernest, was the local Superintendent of the Prudential Life insurance company. Although he attended Blandford Secondary School, midway through that time the family moved to Ilminster in Somerset. Allan then attended Ilminster Grammar School and upon leaving he was articled to Mr. A.W. Sanders, Chemist of Fore Street, Ilminster.
Given his birth year it is likely that Allan was a conscript. From the funeral notice of his Grandfather Charles Munden, a Royal Horse Artillery veteran of the Indian Mutiny who died in January 1918 we know that Allan was posted to Palestine early that year. From the newspaper reports of his own demise we know that he changed cap badges on several occasions during his service, spending time both in the Ox & Bucks Light Infantry and the Warwickshire Regiment.
Allan was posted to 1/1 battalion the Herefordshire Regiment in France, although given his peacetime occupation he had been considered for a transfer to the Royal Engineers as a Dispenser and had passed his Trades Test to allow him to do this. On 30 June 1918 the Herefords were attached to 102nd Infantry Brigade of the 34th Division.
In comparison to all the other Western Front casualties on the school memorial Allan is buried much further south in France near Soissons. He died on the 23rd July 1918 only a week after arriving in France. This was on the opening day of the ‘Battle of Soissonais and of the Ourcq’ which was a major French offensive of 24 Divisions with 2 British and 2 US Divisions in support under French command with 478 Tanks massed in the attack. The 34th Division was part of the predominantly French XXX corps of the 10th Army. The eventual outcome of this battle was to reverse all the German gains from the Spring Offensive in that southern sector.
(This battle incidentally was when Adolf Hitler won his Iron Cross First Class.)
The initial news that Allan was missing was only confirmed as his death to his parents a week later.
The local newspaper’s report of Allan’s death says:
“Though only 19 years of age at the time of his death, Lance-Corporal Munden’s cheery personality and fine character had gained him an unusual degree of the esteem and affection of the townspeople. His loss will be keenly felt, and the deepest sympathy is extended to the bereaved family.” Interestingly the newspaper report refers to Allan as Lance Corporal but his headstone has him still as Private Munden.
As well as being commemorated on the Blandford School Memorial, Allan’s name appeared on the Ilminster Grammar School memorial as well. He was 19 years old.
Ilminster Grammar School Memorial, Ilminster Parish Church