Private John Lambert

Reprinted from The Packet, March 31, 2016
by Lester Green

Battles Scarlet Fever in Scotland 100 Years Ago

Private John Lambert died of scarlet fever at Ayr, Scotland on April 8, 1916.

Private John Lambert died of scarlet fever at Ayr, Scotland on April 8, 1916.


Samuel and Rebecca (Smith) Lambert were married at Heart’s Ease and had eight children — ­six sons and two daughters.

They had two sons that served in World War I, Thomas joined the Royal Naval Reserve, while his younger brother, John, enlisted in the Newfoundland Regiment.

John was born on November 31, 1896, grew up at Fox Harbour (Southport) and spent his teenage years in the fishery.

He decided to enlist with the Newfoundland Regiment after his brother had enlisted. He travelled to St. John’s and signed his attestation papers on July 27, 1915. He was assigned the regimental number of 1744. He listed his age at 20 years and two months but church records indicate that he had not reached his 19th birthday.

Private Lambert signed his allotment papers on Oct. 23 requesting that 60 cents be deducted from his pay per diem and to be paid to his mother, Rebecca.

After three months training at Pleasantville, he travelled to Quebec by train with G Company on Oct. 27. They travelled overseas aboard S.S. Corsican and arrived at Devonport, England on Nov. 9. His company spent their first few weeks at a military camp at Gailes just outside of Ayr, Scotland.

Records indicate that he became seriously ill was sent to Heathfield Hospital at Prestwick, Scotland, on April 6, 1916. He was diagnosed with malignant scarlet fever.

Reverend William Arthur Butler was serving ministerial needs of the people of the Random Parish at Hodge’s Cove during this time period. On April 8, 1916, Reverend Butler was notified of two postal telegraphs that were received at Hodge’s Cove. One was addressed to him and the other to Mr. Samuel Lambert, Sr. It was a message that he was bound by his duty as a minister to deliver. The message read:

Regret to inform you that Record Office, First Newfoundland Regiment, London, today reports that No. 1744, Private John Lambert, son of Samuel Lambert, Sr., Southport, Random, died at Ayr on April seventh. Please inform relatives.

J.R. Bennett,
Colonial Secretary.

Reverend Butler thoughts on travelling to Southport that day must have been very troublesome and might have caused him to think that this message could have been easily describing the death of his own brother, who had also enlisted in the Newfoundland Regiment. His hands must have been heavy and shaking as he knocked lightly upon the door to deliver such an appalling message to the parents.

Three days later J.R. Bennett, Colonial Secretary of the Militia, sent a follow-up letter to Samuel and Rebecca expressing regret on behalf of Government of Newfoundland upon receiving news of their son’s death from Record Office in London.

The military did not inform Samuel and Rebecca about the cause of their son’s death until a month later. They received a letter from the Colonial Secretary confirming the death of their son from malignant scarlet fever.

He had served 255 days in the Army and was laid to rest at Ayr’s Cemetery, Scotland. They would never see their son again and would never be able to visit his grave.

In June of 1922, Samuel and Rebecca received a Memorial Plaque, Scroll and Letter from The King of England in honour of the service performed by their son. Today this scroll is in the possession of Samuel and Rebecca’s grandson who lives at Southport.

Military Service Record

Private John Lambert #1744

July 27, 1915: Attestation papers signed at St. John’s, Nl.

Oct. 27, 1915: Embarked St. John’s by train to Quebec.

Oct. 23, 1915: Allotment to Rebecca Lambert for 60 cents.

Apr. 06, 1916: Admitted to Healthfield Hospital Prestwick, Scotland for scarlet fever infection.

Apr. 8, 1916: Died at Heathfield Hospital Ayr’s, Scotland,

Apr. 8, 1916: Two postal telegraphs received at Hodge’s Cove. One for Reverend William Butler and the other for Samuel Lambert. The telegraphs were concerning the death Private Lambert.

Apr. 11, 1916: Letter to Samuel Lambert from Colonial Secretary expressing the regret of Government of Newfoundland upon hearing about their son’s death.

Apr. 14, 1916: Memorandum sent by Pay and Record Office to Newfoundland Regiment at Newton-on-Ayr, Scotland confirming death of John Lambert.

May 30, 1916: Letter sent to Mr. Samuel Lambert by Colonial Secretary explaining his son’s death was caused by malignant scarlet fever.

Feb. 11, 1918: Letter forwarded to Pension and Disabilities Board by Chief Staff Officer, Royal Newfoundland Regiment concerning Mrs. Lambert’s request for pension on behalf of her son.

Mar. 25, 1919: Confirmation of John Lambert’s attested for general service with Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

Jul. 7, 1919: Letter acknowledging receipt of letter from Mrs. Samuel Lambert on June 30, 1919

Jul. 7, 1919: Letter sent to Board of Pension Commissioners.

Jul. 8, 1919: Letter acknowledging communication with attached letter from A.E. Hickman.

Jul. 15, 1919: Letter written to Lt. Col. Randell, Chief Staff Officer that the Pension commissioners will reply directly to Mother’s letter.

Jun. 1922: Memorial plaque, scroll and letter from King sent Samuel Lambert on behalf of his son.

Buried at Ayr’s Cemetery, Scotland.

There is no military record of any other medals.

He served his country for a total service 255 days.