Vernon Townsend was born in Bexley, Kent, but was living in Ashwell when he enlisted in Oakham into the 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. In early 1917, the battalion formed part of the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force which had begun a slow advance up the Tigris towards Baghdad. The Leicestershires had been in action on 9 and 10 March near the city and entered Baghdad itself the following day. The battalion war diary records how the men bivouacked near the station. At some point Vernon was injured and died later of his wounds. He is buried in Amara War Cemetery, grave XIII.E.2, although he no longer has a headstone due to the ground conditions there. Instead he is commemorated on a screen wall at the cemetery.Vernon was the son of George Arthur and Mary Evelyn Johnson Townsend, of Woodside, Horris Hill, Newtown, Newbury, Berkshire and had a younger sister Violet. He is remembered on Ashwell's war memorial.
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