Edmund Joseph Wale was born in Carrickfergus, Ireland, in 1885, the middle son of Joseph and Mary Wale from Margate, Kent. Edmund’s father worked for HM Coastguard and Edmund and his two brothers were brought up on the Kent coast.
After leaving school Edmund worked as a gardener and moved to London where he worked was employed by the landscape painter and garden designer Alfred Parsons RA1 in Kensington. Alfred Parsons was a member of the Broadway Colony2 of artists who lived and worked in London and Broadway in the late 1890s. Many of the colony were expatriate Americans and after Edmund’s marriage to Millicent Smedley in London in 1910, the couple moved to Russell House Cottage, Broadway, Worcestershire, where Edmund was employed by the American artist Francis Davis ‘Frank’ Millet and his wife Lily to tend the 14 acre gardens at Russell House.
Edmund was supposed to accompany Frank Millet on RMS Titanic to New York on 10th April 1912 but did not travel due to the birth of his son, Brian, who had been born in Broadway in 1912. Frank Millet died in the sinking of the Titanic on 15th April 1912, and Edmund remained in the employ of Frank’s widow, Lily, until his conscription in August 1916.
After receiving his conscription papers in early 1916, Lily Millet twice appealed against conscription at meetings of the Evesham Military Service Tribunal but after being granted exemption until 31st July 1916, Edmund enlisted in Evesham with the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
Edmund served on the Western Front and during the 4th April 1918, during the Defence of Amiens, Edmund was killed in action. His body was never recovered from the battle site and he is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial. Edmund is also recorded in the Roll of Honour 2914-1918 in St Michael and All Angels’ Church, Broadway. His name was added to the west panel of the Cheltenham War Memorial in 1921 (his wife, Millicent and son had moved to Cheltenham from Broadway following his conscription).
Edmund is one of 48 commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial. Further information about Edmund and his fellow men from Broadway commemorated on the memorial can be found in ‘Broadway Remembers’ (a not-for-profit publication published to coincide with the global First World War Centenary commemorations led by the Imperial War Museum. Proceeds to the Poppy Appeal).
1. Alfred Parsons RA was a Broadway Parish Councillor and Chairman of the Broadway War Memorial Committee from May 1919 until his death in January 1920.
2. The Broadway Colony of artists was a group of predominately American artists, writers, actors and musicians who made Broadway their home in the late 1880s and included Francis Davis Millet, Edmund Gosse, Mary Anderson de Navarro, John Singer Sargent, Alma de Tadema and Edwin Austin Abbey.