A. E. J. Collins - Military Career

Military Career

Collins chose to follow an army career, passing his entrance exams to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich in September 1901 and representing the Royal Military Academy at both football and rugby as well as cricket, scoring a century in a match against Sandhurst. He joined the British Army the following year, being commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers on 21 December 1904. Despite the limitations on his sport that the military service caused, he played several matches for Old Cliftonians, his regiment, and the Army, remaining a free-hitting batsman. He played at Lord's in 1913 for Royal Engineers against Royal Artillery, scoring 58 and 36 runs in the two innings, but he never played first-class cricket. He also joined Clifton Rugby Football Club in February 1905, but never rose above the 2nd XV. He served with the 2nd Sappers and Miners in India, and was promoted to Lieutenant on 23 June 1907.

He married Ethel Slater in the spring of 1914, and was sent to France when World War I broke out later that year. He was killed in action, as a Captain, on 11 November 1914 at the First Battle of Ypres, while serving with the 5th Field Company, Royal Engineers, at the age of 29. He was signalling for more men to protect the flank of his trench when he was killed; his body was dragged back into the trench by Sapper Farnfield (23900). The 5th Field Company carried out the burials of its Company on 12 November. Due to the continual fighting over this area for the next four years what remained of his grave and remains were never found, but his name is recorded at the Menin Gate Memorial in Belgium. Before his death, he had been Mentioned in Despatches. His younger brother Herbert (a Lieutenant in the 24th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and also an old Cliftonian) was killed in action on 11 February 1917, aged 27. Collins's wife, Ethel, lived as a widow for over fifty years, dying on 1 September 1966 in Haslemere.

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