Major Arthur William Hammans

Arthur William Hammans was born around the end on 1845 in Marcham, Berkshire to James Hammans and Jane Spencer who had married in 1844.  Not a lot is known about the family but Arthur can be traced back to an online obituary at Westminster School which says he joined the school in September 1860.

On the 8th December 1866 he was commissioned as an Ensign (equivalent to 2nd Lieutenant) to the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot. On the 25th September 1869 whilst still with the 32nd he was promoted to Lieutenant.

Promotions followed; to Captain on the 29th June 1881 to the 1 DCLI and then to Major on 14th December 1887 with the same Battalion. During this period Arthur saw service in Burma during 1892-3 in the Kachin Hills.

In 1889 Arthur married Mary Josephine Wagner and their marriage is recorded in Victoria, Australia as well as in Bellary India. It was while Arthur was serving in Burma that their first son Arthur John Spencer was born in India. Their second son Alexander William was born in London in 1895.  Both served with the DCLI in World War 1.

Arthur retired from the Regular Army on the 31st August 1894 at the rank of Major. However he remained as a Major for the Training Reserve and in 1901 is back in England at the Barracks in Bodmin with his wife and youngest son. 

Their oldest son Arthur John Spencer had followed in his father’s footsteps and after being educated at Bigshotte Rayles and Wellington College went to Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the 1st DCLI in March 1911.  Their youngest son Alexander William also followed a military career and was commission into the 2nd DCLI on the 24th June 1914.

In 1915 although now about 70 years old, Arthur took up the post at Bletchley Recruiting Station as Major.

On Saturday 17th July 1915 Major Hammans got the dreadful news that his son Alexander had been severely wounded and he immediately went to France. Alexander was then serving with the 6th DCLI and was engaged in training bomb throwers. It was whilst testing a new type of bomb that it exploded prematurely blowing off his right hand and injuring both legs.

After knowing that Alexander was recovering, he duly returned to the recruiting office on the Thursday of the same week. 

On May 27th 1916 Major Hammans was suddenly and seriously ill. He was immediately taken to the house of Dr. W. Bradbrook, in Bletchley Road, and there on the same evening an operation was performed by Dr. Hastings Gilford, of Reading. In consequence, initially Major Hammans seemed to make a good recovery. However his condition then weakened and two weeks later he died on the 13th June 1916.

The coffin was then conveyed by the motor hearse to The Old Farm House, Goring, and, with many wreaths having been sent, at the well-attended village church the funeral took place, with Dr. Bradbrook and many of the recruiting staff amongst the congregation. As the interment was being made in the parish churchyard eight buglers of Major Hamman’s old regiment then sounded the Last Post.

His son Alexander survived his awful injuries and was employed under the Air Ministry from April 1918 to August 1921 when he retired. He married Catherine V A McCullogh (McCullock) in 1920. The couple did not have any children and Alexander died on the 8th July 1937 as a result of his wounds.

His son Arthur John Spencer died on the 3th July 1917 at Roclincourt. He had been awarded the Military Cross and the Legion of Honour.