2nd Lieutenant Ralph Edward Culverhouse MEAD
7th (Service) Battalion East Kent Regiment (Buffs)

Date of birth: 3rd June 1898
Date of death: 29th September 1917

Killed in action aged 19
Buried at Nine Elms British Cemetery near Poperinge Plot III Row A Grave 2
He was born at Tunbridge Wells on the 3rd of June 1898 the only son of Frank Mead, flour miller, and Grace Leticia Barbara (nee Mackenzie) of 28 Penywern Road, Earls Court in London. He was christened on the 2nd of July 1898 at Tunbridge Wells.

He was educated at Glendower Place School, at North Down Hill School, Margate and at Tonbridge School from 1911 to 1912 where he was in Parkside House. He went on to the King’s School Canterbury from January 1913 to July 1916 where he won a Junior Scholarship in November 1913 and a Senior Scholarship in June 1915. He was elected as Hon Secretary of the Harvey Society on the 18th of September 1915 and as Hon Secretary of the Cantuarian in January 1916.

He was a member of the Officer Training Corps, becoming Quartermaster Sergeant in January 1916 and one of the founders of the Marlowe Society. He was appointed as a monitor in September 1915. He was awarded his rugby colours in 1915/16, where he played as a forward, and his cricket colours in 1916. The Cantuarian described his 1915/16 rugby season thus:-

"Quite fast and continually leading rushes. He is inclined to go rather high when tackling."

Of his 1916 cricket season they wrote:-

"Useful medium bowler with swerve from the leg, though sometimes could not find his length. As a bat his dashing tactics occasionally met with some success. Fair catch, but careless ground fielder."

He was awarded an Open Classical Exhibition to Worcester College, Oxford, with a view to a medical career, but instead, enlisted as Private 6882 in a cadet battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. In early 1917 he was working at the Guards Camp at Pirbright with the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps with the stated aim of gaining command of a tank.

Later that year he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Battalion East Kent Regiment on the 27th of June 1917.

He embarked for France on the 29th of September 1917 at a time when the battalion was resting and training new drafts of men recently arrived from England.

That evening, the battalion were in camp at St Jan Ter Biezen when a German aircraft dropped bombs into the camp, doing a great deal of damage. It was dark when the aeroplane came over at 7.20pm and dropped six bombs (two of which were blind) right into the camp which was very congested. This resulted in the death of Ralph Mead and twenty six other ranks and the wounding of three officers and sixty three other ranks.

He is commemorated on the war memorial at Hemel Hempstead, on the memorial at Tonbridge School and on the memorial at Worcester College Oxford.

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