- Valentine Joe Strudwick was a son of Jesse
Strudwick and Louisa Strudwick (nee Fuller), of 70, Orchard Road,
Dorking. He was born in 74, Falkland Road on 14 february 1900 and so
named Valentine, though he was known as Joe. He later moved with his
father, who was a gardener, his mother Louisa, brothers Jesse, Charles
Henry and Jack, sisters Florence Lillian and Dora Louisa and step
sisters Daisy Ada and Alice Rosetta to Orchard Road. His father married
Ellen Strudwick (nee Miller) in 1884 and she gave birth to Joe's two
step sisters. In 1887 Ellen Strudwick died. Jesse remaried with Louisa
Fuller in 1891.
- Joe Strudwick was educated at Falkland Road
Infants' School and St Paul's School and after he left school he
probably worked for his uncle, a coal merchant, and in other manual
- Strudwick enlisted in january 1915 in Lambeth.
He lied about his age. He became part of the 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade
(the Prince Consort's Own). On 12 august 1915 he disembarked in France.
- Within short time he lost two of his friends
who were standing next to him, both instantaneouly killed. The shock was
such, with addition of being badly gassed, that he was sent home and was
for three months in hospital in Sheerness. On recovering he rejoined his
regiment in France.
- Strudwick died in action at Boezinge, close to
Ypres, Belgium. He was just 15 years and 11 months ad became one of the
youngest battle casualties of the First World War.
- Louisa Strudwick received a letter with the
sad news about her son's death explaining that he was killed by a shell.
He died painlessly and quite instantly. Fellow soldiers carried him to a
little cemetery behind the lines where he was buried the next morning.
His commanding officer wrote in this letter: "Riffleman
Strudwick had earned the goodwill and respect of his comrades and his
officers, and we are very sorry indeed to lose so good a soldier. On
their behalf a well as my own I offer you sincere sympathy."
- Although the official account is that
Strudwick was killed instantly, this was typical of the time, most death
were reported as instantaneous and painless, there are accounts that
suggest that he was wounded and did get back to the dressing station at
Essex Farm. Mr Andy Thompson, a historian, is quoted in the Surrey News
in 2014: "My information was that he was wounded by a sniper. He
got back to the advance dressing station at Essex Farm, and they
stabilised the wound. Then he was removed to a casualty clearing
station, a hospital behind the lines, that is where the army then
contacted the family, and because he was only 15, the family should
fetch him home. His father, Jesse, got to Dover to get to France and
collect Joe when he was told he had in fact died. The family opted for
him to be sent back to Essex Farm near Ypres."
- Valentie Joe's brother Jesse enlisted into the
Army on 6 november 1915. He served with the 6th Battalion Reserve
Brigade Royal Field Artillery. He was discharged on 3 july 1916 on
- The report of Strudwick's death was used to
shame reluctant older men to joining up. One article read: "His
mother would naturally have liked to have kept him out of the Army for
at least a year of two, but young Strudwick would not have it - a fine
example to those of maturer years who have not yet joined, and perhaps a
- Valentine Joe Strudwick's grave is one of the
most visited graves on the Western Front. He became a kind of symbol for
all the boys who gave their lives for their country.