Folker, Edgar Reginald

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Folker, Edgar Reginald

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  • Folker, Eddie

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Dates of existence

23 October 1884-19 or 20 February 1915


Edgar (Eddie) Folker's great nephew Malcolm Smith has collected the following information as part of his family history research:

Edgar Reginald Folker was born on 23 October 1884 at 106 St.Georges Road, Upper Holloway, London. He was known as Eddie and was the third in a family of five children. The census of 1891 shows him living with his family at Albert Terrace, Wolstanton in Staffordshire.

Eddie attended St.Pauls College in Southgate then Willesden High School. There is a reference to Woodland College also he may have started or prepared to start at Cambridge University. He was in the choir at St.Michaels church at Stonebridge Park.

He started work as an apprentice to the Vauxhall Engineering Company although the census of 1901 records his occupation as Apprentice (Marine Engineering). At that time he was lodging at 1 Studley Road in Lambeth, the home of Arthur and Rose Simms and their children. It appears that he progressed so well that he drove a special car at the Isle of Man trials. It is known that he also drove in other speed tests, some of which were at Brooklands race track. It is also known that in 1910, a Vauxhall became the first 20HP car to exceed 100mph.

Eddie's niece Dora recalled that he was a racing driver and drove for Siddeley Deasy at Brooklands. There is a lovely photograph of the entire family taken outside the family home at 12 Park Road, Harlesden in 1907. The occasion is the wedding of his cousin, John Herbert Folker, to Marie van Dillen and the couple are sitting in a Siddeley Deasy car which one must presume Edgar had provided and was driving.

Eddie then joined the Rover Company where he became assistant manager. He eventually started his own business in the motor trade, having a showroom at 60 Haymarket in London, which is where he was also living at that time. The entry in the Post Office Directory for 1914 lists him as a motor & car dealer, his telephone number being GERrard 8600 and his telegraph address as Vanquisher, Charles. He was a member of The Motor Club at Whitcomb Street, not far from his showroom.

As an adult, he was described by his niece, Dora Folker (to whom he was godfather), as a dashing man with black curly hair. He was a big man being 6'4" tall and weighing about 14 stone.

Eddie was a keen sportsman. He was a member of The Thames Rowing Club which was originally formed in 1860 for the purpose of "organised pleasure or exercise rowing". He represented them at various regattas including Henley. There is a story regarding an event at Goring Regatta when his rigger broke. Realising that he was a dead weight, he discarded his oar then dived off coming up behind the boat after the last oar had passed. He was also a member of Twickenham Rowing Club which was founded on 26th July 1860 and is, jointly with Thames Rowing Club the third oldest of the rowing clubs on the Thames, and is located on Eel Pie Island. Additionally, he was a member of The Remenham Club, which was formed in 1909 by Members of Metropolitan and Up-River Clubs, to establish a meeting place at Henley for past and present rowing men, their families and personal friends.

Along with his brothers Arthur and Sydney, Edgar joined the York and Lancaster Regiment in World War 1. His Application for Appointment to a Commission in the Special Reserve of Officers was completed and signed by him on 13 August 1914. The application indicated that he was able to ride a horse. On 15 August he joined the 3rd (Reserve) batallion where he served in the rank of 2nd lieutenant. He underwent a physical fitness test at Hounslow Barracks on 25th August and was pronounced fit. The form details his physical attributes recording that he was 6'3" tall, weighed just over 14 stones, had good vision but had three fales teeth on a bottom plate.

On 15 January 1915, Edgar embarked at Southampton for France. Tragically, just over five weeks later he was killed in action. The military documents record the date of his death variously as 19 or 20 February 1915. On the 20th of February, the 2nd Battalion King's Own Scottish Borderers relieved the battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment in the trenches at Verbranden Molen in the Ypres Salient. He was in trench 37 near Verbranden Molen when a shell exploded in a connecting sap. He went to investigate the damage but was overcome by poisonous fumes which proved fatal. The Casualty Form gave other details, including a sketch of the place at which he was buried. The Field Service Report of 1 March 1915 gave a brief official record of the event.

On 22 February, Edgar's father had received the dreaded telegram notifying his death, there was some correspondence between him and the War Office regarding the place where Edgar was buried. A copy of the sketch was sent to Edgar's father by the Military Secretary with a letter on 14 June 1915, however, that sketch is now lost. Edgar's Commanding Officer wrote the following to his father - Although your son had only been with us a comparatively short time, yet he had endeared himself to us all, and we very much miss him in the regiment. I feel that nothing I can say will be able to alleviate your sorrow, but I am sureyou will be glad to hear what an excellent officer he was, and could very ill be spared. He was so keen on everything he had to do and did it so well, and the men of his company were so fond of him.

A memorial service was held at St.Michaels church on 13 March 1915 and an obituary appeared in the Willesden Chronicle on 26th. Edgar's father was devastated by his death and kept a shrine in the house with his photograph and medals on display. The medals went out of the possession of the family later on, most likely after Edgar's mother passed away and his father cleared the house of many possessions. By chance, a great nephew of Edgar was made aware that the medals were coming up at auction and he was able to secure them prior to the auction. Edgar's name is also remembered at the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres. His great nephew, Malcolm Smith, visited the memorial on the centenary of Edgar's death to pay his respects.

Edgar had made a Will on arrival in France on active service. Administration was made to his father on 29 March 1915. An extract from the Letters of Administration show the gross value of Edgar's estate as being £2229:8s:4d.

Tragedy spread further to Edgar's girl friend, Peggy Trull, who suffered injury to her spine when diving into a swimming pool and was subsequently paralysed and confined to a wheelchair.


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