A life spent fighting for his country
- Credit: Archant
As a child, Ted Pack had always been told his grandfather was a born soldier. He hadn’t realised what that meant until he began to research his family history, unearthing information about a man who had lived and died in the military.
Henry Edward Pack was born in Gibraltar in 1877, the son of a soldier, William Pack, and his wife Hannah.
When they were old enough, Henry and his older brother, also named William, were sent to study at the Duke of York’s Military Asylum in Chelsea.
“It was a military school,” explained Ted, 69, “even though it was called an asylum.
“He spent all his childhood training to be a soldier, and when he left school he enlisted in the army.”
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The school was established in 1803 and was intended to educate the children of soldiers. In 1909, it relocated to Dover, where it still exists today called the Duke of York’s Royal Military School.
After leaving the school, Henry and William joined the same regiment as their father, the King’s Own Fourth Battalion Infantry.
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“My grandfather fought for them for about 20 years before joining the reserves.
“About two years after he left them, he was called up to fight in the First World War.”
Corporal Pack, as he was then, lost his life aged 39 on March 27, 1917.
He was buried at Sarigol Military Cemetary in Kriston, Greece. His widow Mildred was given a map with his grave marked on but the family could not afford to visit it.
It wasn’t until recently that any of Henry’s family visited the grave. Ted’s son James, 27, made the trip to Kriston where he took a rubbing of the gravestone to bring home.
Despite travelling the world fighting for their country, the Packs have several generations of links to the borough.
“My great-grandfather is recorded as living in West Ham in the 1888 census,” said Ted, who lives in Plaistow.
Henry Pack is also recorded as having a home in Canning Town at the time of his death.
He left behind a son, also named Henry, who was the third generation of the family to join the military.
He was part of the Kent Guards during the Second World War.
“My mother and I used to go and visit him sometimes,” said Ted.
“The first toy I remember having was an elephant made by German prisoners of war.”