THE Ulverston officer Hans Robert Sparenborg was among the first South Cumbrians to be killed in action during the First World War.

He died fighting in the Battle of Le Cateau with the 1st Battalion of the King's Own on August 26 in 1914.

The officer's body was not identified and he is named on the Le-Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial at Seine-et-Marne, France.

This memorial, on the south bank of the River Marne, commemorates 3,888 British and Irish troops with no known graves from fighting in 1915 at Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne.

In the 1911 census Cpt Sparenborg was living with his family at Ringwood, Kilner Park, Ulverston.

He was aged 35 and was listed as a being an officer with the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regient.

At the same address was his wife Flora Alexander Vigers and his son Hans Colin, then aged six, who had been born at Paddington, London.

Cpt Sparenborg had been born in Calcutta, India, and in 1891 was living with his parents at Lancaster Road in Lambeth, London.

He left a total of £801 in his will to his widow Flora, who he married in 1903.

An obituary column noted that the officer was killed in action at Harcourt, near Le Cateau.

It noted: "A corporal of his battalion stated that the bursting of a shell caused his death.

"He was the eldest son of J. Sparenborg, of Forest Lodge, Kingswood, Surrey, and was born in Calcutta on November 2 in 1876.

"He was educated at Dulwich College, where he got his colours for football and at Caius College Cambridge.

"He joined the Royal Lancaster Regiment in May 1900, becoming lieutenant in January 1902.

"From May 1902 to October 1904 he was employed with the West African Frontier Force and while so employed took part in the Kano-Sokoto campaign, West Africa (North Nigeria) in 1903, receiving the medal with clasp.

"He was also in command during operations in the Kabba Province.”

The medal he received would have been the Africa General Service Medal with a clasp on the ribbon for North Nigeria.

This little known military action saw the capture of a fort by an expeditionary force sent to defend a British protectorate proclaimed over much of the Sokoto Caliphate.

"He was promoted captain in January 1910 and from January 1911 to December 1913 was an adjutant of the 4 th Territorial Battalion of his regiment.

"He was a first-class interpreter in German."

The captain was killed when his son Colin was just 11.

His role as an officer with the Ulverston-based 4th Battalion probably explains why he moved with his family to the town.