John Hampden Grammar School

Michael Keating


Michael was born in 1893 and his parents were Michael and Ada. He had two older sisters, Violet and Dorothy and three younger brothers Peter, Bernard and Stephen and two younger sisters Mary and Margaret. In 1901 they were living in 74 Desborough Road but by 1911 they had moved to 32 Richardson Street. Sometime between 1901 and 1911 Michael's father had died. By 1917 his mother had moved again to 16 George Street.


Michael won a 'local committee' prize at the School in 1908. He completed an apprenticeship in chair carving with Mr Hugo and then was employed by Messrs Skull and Son, Mr H Stratford and lastly by Messrs Morris White and Boreham. In March 1916 he married a Miss Beal and they were living at 2 Gordon Villas in Spring Gardens, High Wycombe.


He enlisted in the Bucks Territorials on September 12th 1914 and was sent to France on March 29th 1915. The Bucks Free Press reported that "He proved himself to be a good soldier, and his strict attention to duty gained from him the respect of his superiors. He was well-known in Wycombe, and respected by all. His letters home were always of a cheerful character and although never regretting his early step in the world-wide conflict, he was hopefully looking forward to the time when he would again join the family circle."


He was killed on 16th April 1917 during a night attack on a German position. Lieutenant Pullman wrote, "Death was instantaneous, and he suffered no pain. I had him buried the next day, and have taken a map reference of his grave. He was a good solider, and a brave man, and his loss is greatly regretted by his officers and comrades. His Company Officer, Captain Gregson-Ellis, was also killed at the same time." Captain Gregson-Ellis is buried in Peronne Communal Cemetery Extension. Sergeant S Walduck wrote, "He was not only a great friend, but also a good comrade to the platoon and myself. Of this you may rest assured - Micky died as a solider should die - fighting. On the night of the 16th/17th we were ordered to attack and during the attack Micky fell very badly wounded in the side. He died almost immediately, suffering hardly any pain." The Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry had just taken the town of Peronne (on March 18th) as the Germans retreated to the Hindenburg Line.


After the war Michael's burial place was never identified and he is remembered on the Thiepval memorial. His listing on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site can be found here.