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Brave exploits of Fulham WW1 soldier remembered 100 years after his death

The National Army Museum is looking back at the life of Lance Corporal Val Lander

Lance-Corporal Val Lander

The story of a Fulham soldier has been published online for the first time, 100 years after his death in the First World War.

The heroic deeds of Lance-Corporal Val Lander, who died at the Battle of Aubers Ridge in Artois, France, on May 9 1915 and whose body was never found, have been marked by the National Army Museum’s First World War in Focus commemorative microsite.

As part of the museum’s Soldiers’ Stories series, a number of objects relating to Lander and his story, as well as soldiers’ effects ledgers from the War Office, have now been published on its commemorative online portal, First World War in Focus.

His medals - the Star awarded in 1914 as well as a British War Medal – are included in the online collection.

The soldier was born February 14 1894 to parents Charles and Emily Lander, and was the second of six children.

The family moved to Fulham Park Gardens shortly after his birth and he attended school in the area. Charles was an actor, and by the time Val was 16 the family had moved to Shepherd’s Bush.

Three years later, in 1914, following the outbreak of war, Val enlisted in Kensington, joining the 1/13th (county of London) Princess Louise’s Kensington Battalion, The London Regiment. In the months that followed he was promoted to Lance-Corporal.

Following mobilization Lander’s unit moved to Abbotts Langley and landed at Le Havre on November 13 1914 with the 25th Brigade of 8th division.

After a few months in the line, Val’s battalion fought at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 2015. The Kensington’s lost 160 men but Lander survived.

On May 9 1915 and in support of a French offensive in Artois the British made a two-pronged attack on the Garman line at Aubers Ridge. Among the units that engaged were Lander’s Kensington battalion and the 25th Brigade.

Lander’s battalion advanced further than most, infiltrating the enemy front trenches. However, after moving on to the next objective and capturing a defensive flank, they could not hold the position and after hours of bitter fighting were forced back.

More than 400 Kensington troops were either killed or wounded at Aubers Ridge, including Lance-Corporal Val Lander, who was just 21 years old.

The museum’s collection also includes a letter from the War Office to his father, informing him of his son’s bravery in battle. Lander’s name also appears in the soldier’s effects legers, which recorded the monies owing to soldiers who died whilst serving in the Army.

First World War in Focus is part of the National Army Museum’s Building for the Future project.

The museum, in Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, is currently closed for refurbishment.

To find out more go to www.nam.ac.uk/microsites/ww1/stories.

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