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Hugo Campbell Bazett

Private 26502 Hugo Campbell Bazett, 2nd Battlion, Grenadier Guards


Hugo was born in Newbury in 1879, the eldest child of Alfred Campbell Bazett and his wife Jane Elizabeth née Knowles. His father was a well-known local solicitor who had come to Newbury in the late 1870s running his business from 41 Cheap Street and living in Chilton Lodge, Speen. Alfred died aged only 46 in 1898, leaving his wife to raise their large family. Fortunately he left them reasonably well provided for with, what was then the considerable sum of £2,632 5s (the value today would be somewhere in excess of £500,000).

Warren H Pitman was brought into the soliciter's business; he added his name to Bazett's to establish the long lasting Pitman & Bazett partnership. The firm outlasted both founders, moving eventually to 34 London Road, Newbury; in 2001 the name disappeared when the firm merged with Penningtons (later to merge with Thomas Eggar). Pitman's was not a complete takeover or buy-out; the Bazett family remained associated with the firm for many years, notably through Hugo's brother Frank Doveton Bazett. Sebastian Faulks, author of the well-known WW1 novel, Birdsong, was raised in Donnington, just outside Newbury where his father was a partner in Pitman Bazett.

Hugo was educated at Brighton College after which he began his career as a clerk, lodging in St Marylebone, London. In 1903 he married Emily Adelaide Cunningham
By 1916 he was living in Slough and working as an ‘advertisement writer’ when he appealed to the local tribunal for exemption from conscription:

Slough, Eton & Windsor Observer, 27 May 1916 - Slough Military Service Tribunal

Mr Hugo Campbell Bazett, an advertisement writer, of Slough, applied for total exemption on the ground of serious hardship. His wife was in a weak state of health, and was not able to earn her own living. He was ready to go personally, but his wife could not live on the separation allowance and he had no other means.

In reply to Mr Fullbrook applicant admitted that he had no financial responsibilities. They were now living in apartments.

The tribunal adjourned the case while they sought advice on what their powers were regarding the cases of married men.  Evidently Hugo was not successful as before long he was serving as a Private in the Grenadier Guards.

He was posted to the 4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards, serving with the 3rd Guards Brigade in the Guards Division.

On 12 October 1917, the battalion took part in the attack known to history as the 1st Battle of Passchendaele (confusingly this is official terminology for a short phase of the long offensive officially entitled the 3rd Battle of Ypres – but better known as The Battle of Passchendaele). The Guards Division was positioned on the northern end of the attack, tasked with establishing a strong flank to protect the advancing troops to the south.  The Division gained all its objectives and the 3rd Guards Brigade were then tasked with advancing the line even further, which they did successfully. To the south the main offensive rapidly got bogged down in the appalling conditions, hundreds of men were lost to the mud.  General Haig called off the attack after only one day.

On 14 October the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadiers were withdrawn from the front to billets at De Wipper, Cabaret.  Their war diary details their day:

War Diary, 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards – 14 October 1917
De Wippe Cabaret          
The Battalion moved back to Boesinghe and caught a train leaving for De Wippe Cabaret 3am from the station immediately west of the Yser Canal. While waiting for the train, the whole Battn had hot tea and biscuits at Boesinghe Chateau under arrangements made by the Guards Divisional Canteen.
5am      The whole Battalion was in camp at the De Wippe Cabaret crossroads (French hut camp) where they had breakfast on arrival and a complete change of underclothing and service dress for every man as well as an issue of whale oil.
2pm      Reveille
4pm      The Battalion “shewed clean”.
The casualty report for the period 9th-14 October is attached as an Appendix
Weather: Fine.


Sadly the casualty report mentioned in the diary entry has not been retained with the diary (unlike those for other periods), as it might have shed some light on Hugo’s death, which is reported to have occurred on this day.

Either Hugo was killed ‘by hostile aircraft’ (ie bombing or staffing from an enemy aircraft) at some point during this seemingly busy but safe day’s activities, or he was wounded before this date and succumbed to his wounds on this date.  It seems more likely that the latter is the more likely.

This presumption arises because he was buried in a cemetery serving a dressing station at Bleuet Farm.  This implies that he has been wounded and evacuated to the dressing station.  Of course the wound that required treatment may not have been inflicted by an aircraft – the fatal air attack could have been upon Bleuet Farm itself while Hugo was receiving treatment for some minor wound.

His death was reported in the local paper:

Newbury Weekly News, 25 October 1917, p8 - Local War Notes
Mrs A Campbell Bazett, of St Leonard's on Sea, has been notified of the death by hostile aircraft in Flanders, of her son, Hugo Campbell Bazett of the 4th Batt Coldstream Guards. He was the eldest son of the late Mr A Campbell Bazett, solicitor, of Newbury, and brother of 2nd Lieut Frank D Bazett, now on service in France, and a former Mayor of Newbury. Mrs Bazett has thus had the distressing experience of losing two sons within four months, both of them Newbury born and well known in the town.

He was buried in grave II.A.4 at Bleuet Farm Cemetery north of Ypres.

Hugo's name on Newbury War Memorial

Hugo's name on Newbury War Memorial, immediately above his brother Gilbert.

(lower middle)

Locally he is remembered on Tablet 9 of the Newbury Town War Memorial his name is immediately above that of his younger brother Gilbert who died a few months earlier at a Casualty Clearing Station at Bailluel, south of Ypres.

Another brother, Frank, was mayor of Newbury in 1916 when he too was called up to serve. He earned an MC and rose to the rank of Captain in the Royal Berkshire Regiment before returning to Newbury to carry on his father's firm of solicitors. During WW2 he was once again mayor of Newbury.

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 Died this day:
04 March 1917
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