Cecil Howard Palmer was born at Eastborne, Sussex on the 14th July 1873, son of the Reverend James Howard Palmer and Marian Palmer (nee Edwards). He was educated at "Ashampstead" (Upperton Road Establishment for Young Gentlemen) and later at St. Peters College, Radley, Abingdon, Berkshire.
He was commissioned in to the Worcestershire Regiment in about 1894.
Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on the 1st February 1897 and to rank of Captain on the 20th June 1900.
During the Boer War he served with the Mounted Infantry and was Mentioned-in-Despatches in 1901 (London Gazette date 10/09/1901).
On the 1st November 1901 he was appointed Aide-de-Camp to Colonel (temporary Major-General) R. H. Murray, C.B., C.M.G. at Aldershot Infantry Brigade.
In 1903 Cecil Howard Palmer married Hilda Beatrice Hall at Alton , Hampshire.
On the 18th November 1906 he was seconded for service as Adjutant of the 1st Volunteers Battalion Worcestershire Regiment. In 1908. under Lord Haldane’s new administration for the Army the 1st Volunteer Battalion became the 7th Battalions, Territorial Force, and so on the 1st April 1908 Captain Cecil Howard Palmer was appointed Adjutant of the 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment for the remaining period of that appointment.
He was a keen sportsman. He was a first team member of the Hampshire County Cricket Club (batsman) from 1899 to 1907 and interestingly during 1904 he also played for Worcestershire County Cricket Club against Oxford University at Worcester, scoring 41 and 75 runs, and in the same season played three matches for Hampshire County Cricket Club one of which was against Worcestershire. However, as a regular soldier his county cricket was very restricted. In 1903 for the Gentlemen of Worcestershire v Gentlemen of Warwickshire at Edgbaston he made 102 and 127 runs.