Edward George Rayment was born in London’s East End on 13th April 1897, the sixth child of toothbrush maker Arthur Rayment and Catherine Rayment (née Roberts).
Being one of a family of eight children in a very deprived area of London, his early life was far from easy and the fact that his father was rather too fond of drink did not exactly help matters. Edward was only twelve years old when his father fell into a river and was drowned after having drunk rather too much whilst taking an unauthorised day off work.
Like some of his siblings before him, he longed to escape the grinding poverty of life in London’s East End and so, in 1914 he travelled to Argentina to visit his eldest brother Arthur who had emigrated there sometime earlier but, longing for further adventure, on 15th May 1916 he enlisted in the Border Regiment of the British Army for the duration of the first World War.
His military service proved to be rather different from that which he had expected and he did not enjoy it. He saw action overseas, including in the Dardanelles campaign, and suffered much from the poor conditions to which the Army was subjected there. It was during this time that he contracted several bouts of Malaria as a result of which he had to be hospitalised.
Unfortunately he never managed to forget the worst of his experiences during his three-and-a-half years’ service in the Army. These seem to have changed his whole attitude for the rest of his life and he found it somewhat difficult to settle down or even to talk about what he had seen and what had happened to him during this period of his life.
He was discharged from the Army on 17th January 1920 and returned to civilian life as an electrician in Argentina and was engaged to a girl there. The relationship did not to last and on 28th February 1927 he emigrated to the United States where, on 10th June 1943 in Elkton, Maryland, he entered into a marriage of convenience with Helen Street née Beaver, a 62 years-old divorcee and mother of four and was thereby granted citizenship of the United States on 8th March 1945.
After Helen’s death in 1972, he spent much of his semi-retirement in visiting “flea-markets” around Darby, his home-town in Pennsylvania and this enabled him to make some money by running a small mail-order business selling general goods. The last survivor of eight siblings, he died aged nearly 89 at his home in Darby, Pennsylvania on 19th March 1986 and was buried with Helen at Glenwood Memorial Gardens in Broomall, Pennsylvania.
Having had no children of his own, in order to keep his war medals in the Rayment family after his death they were given to his nephew Roy C. Rayment, author of the above.
As mentioned previously, Edward never wanted to talk about his wartime experiences and so it now remains somewhat of a mystery why (despite the fact that he was not granted citizenship of the United States until 1945) a second World War US Army draft record bearing his name was issued in 1942.