Fifty-four British Army officers and men died on this day, 27th November 1914, according to Soldiers Died in the Great War. Nathaniel Vans of the 15th (King's) Hussars was one of those men.
Nathaniel's regimental number tells us that he joined his regiment in May 1912 and we know from Soldiers Died in the Great War that he was a Londoner, born in Bethnal Green and still living there when he enlisted at Stratford. No service record survives for Nathaniel but his medal index card indicates that he arrived overseas on the 18th August 1914.
Soldiers Died in the Great War notes that Nathaniel "Died" as opposed to being killed in action or dying of wounds, and his entry on the 1914 Star medal roll confirms that he "died of disease". He was buried in St Sever Cemetery, Rouen which took casualties from a number of hospitals in the city. It seems reasonable to assume that Nathaniel died in one of those hospitals and was buried at St Sever.
VANS or VAUS?
There is some confusion about Nathaniel's surname. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records him as Nathaniel VAUS, even though the Vaus is corrected to VANS on the Graves Registration report (below).
As can be seen from the medal index card image, courtesy of Ancestry (above), the confusion is perpetuated here. The 1914 Star roll records him as N VAUS while the British War and Victory Medal roll records him as Nathaniel VANS, albeit with a correction noted:
The reason for the confusion in the surname is clear to see when we look at the 1911 census. Nathaniel and his brother and sister are recorded as the step-children of Samuel Laker and his wife, the family all resident at 27 Sidney Street, Bethnal Green. Nathaniel is recorded as a 19-year-old cabinet maker which indicates that he would have been born in 1891 or 1892.
The surname has been transcribed by Findmypast as VANS but in actual fact, a check of GRO births reveals that Nathaniel VAUS appears in the index for the fourth quarter of 1891 meaning that he would have been 23 years old when he died. Nathaniel, his younger sister Sarah and younger brother Frederick all appear on the 1901 census as scholars at a school in Low Leyton. Their father, Nathaniel Vaus, born in around 1864 and recorded as a "scavenger" on the 1891 census, had died in 1903. Their mother, Caroline Vaus (nee Sayce) may also have been dead by 1901. I have not researched the other two Vaus children recorded on the 1891 census, Caroline Vaus aged seven, and William Vaus, aged four.
The transcript of Nathaniel's details as recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, does not note a next of kin, but a closer examination of the headstone schedules reveal his stepmother's name (although the relationship is not indicated) still living at 27 Sidney Street, London E2. The street still exists - indicated by the Google pointer below - but much of it has changed beyond recognition in the last 100 years, almost certainly for the better.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.
1911 census extract and British War & Victory Medal roll extract courtesy of The National Archives. Images are Crown copyright, the National Archives. Medal index card courtesy of Ancestry. Map courtesy of Google.