Last year on Memorial Day I decided to honor members of my family that had died in battle. You can see the post here.
During genealogical research over the last year, more names have been added to the list of family members that I have found were killed in action. My father survived over 4 years of fighting in the jungles of Burma and returned home physically unscathed. Every year until he died my father would wear a poppy, visit the cenotaph and attend a ceremony honoring the lives of those who had not returned home. As my father is no longer alive to be able to continue that tradition, I find myself wanting to do this in his honor.
I would think that many who read this post have had family members who have served in the military and even had family members who gave their lives for their country. I invite any of you to leave a comment honoring them so that we can also remember their names.
Here are the family members who paid the ultimate price I am honoring tonight:
William 1938 - 1940 1st cousin 1x removed: December 12/13 1940 saw the first major bombing blitz of my home town. Little William was with his baby sitter and not with his parents. The house he was at received a direct hit and he was killed. William was just 2 years old when the German bomb hit the house he was visiting.
William Taylor - 1899- 1916 grand-uncle: The story of William struck a major chord with me. He wasn't even 18 when he died. William's name is one of 72,335 that appear on the Thiepval Memorial. Most died in the early days of the battle of the Somme. Most of the 72,000 plus are British soldiers and some from South Africa. William was just 17 years old when he was killed. His older brother, Samuel, survived to return home to his parents.
James Moody 1895 - 1917 - 2nd cousin 3x removed: Killed in Action on the 30 July 1917 in Flanders. No other information is available on James. He was 21 years old when he was killed.
Albert Pinder 1891 - 1917 - 3rd cousin 2x removed. Albert was injured at the Battle Of Messines Ridge and died of his wounds days later. He is mentioned at the Mendinghem Military Cemetery. Albert was 26 when he died.
Joseph Ducker 1895 - 1918 - 1st cousin 3x removed: Killed in Action on the 21 March 1918. Joseph is mentioned in the Arras Memorial at Faubourg-D´Amiens Cemetery, Arras. Joseph was 22 years old when he was killed.
William Peavey 1919 - 1941 - 3rd cousin 1x removed: Killed in Action on the 7 December 1941 on the U.S.S. Arizona. Thanks to the amazing record keeping of the US, we know a little about William. Billy Peavey was an aspiring graphic artist and had been sending samples of his work. Right before the attack he was informed he had a position at Walt Disney Studios once he was discharged. William Howard "Billy" Peavey's brother, Robert Peavey, had been in the Navy before the war. Billy was 22 years old when he was killed.
Henry Victor Close June 1897 - 15 August 1918 - 1st cousin 3x removed. Henry was part of the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was killed in Flanders and is buried in the Saint Sever Cemetery Extension in Rouen along with 8,347 other Commonwealth soldiers. He was 22 when he died.
George Godfrey Earnshaw 1898 -25 October 1918 - 4th cousin 1x removed. George is buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium. His sacrifice is also remembered on the Stannington War Memorial in Yorkshire. George was just 20 when he died.
Lionel Alwyne Watson 1898 - 18 November 1918 - 3rd cousin 3x removed
Lionel is buried at the Vichte Military Cemetery, West Vlaanderen, Belgium. His father received the sum of UKP15 on Lionel’s death. Lionel was just 20 when he died.
Frank Snowdin D.C.M 1898 - 21 March 1918 - 2nd cousin 3x removed
Frank is buried at Poziers, Department de la Somme, Picardi, France. Excerpt from London Gazette 24 January 1917 and 3 March 1917, “award of the DCM For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Although, twice wounded and in considerable pain, he continued fighting in a most gallant manner.” Frank wasa 19 when he died.
Robert John Ducker 1900 - 5 November 1918 - 2nd cousin 2x removed
Robert is buried in the Caudry Cemetery in France. Caudry town was the scene of part of the Battle of Le Cateau on the 26th August 1914, and from that date it remained in German hands until the 10th October 1918, when it was captured by the 37th Division. 700 British soldiers are buried at Caudry. Robert was just 18 when he died.
Derek Hawcroft 1922 - 21 July 1943 3rd cousin 2x removed
Derek was part of the Royal Airforce. Derek’s plane was shot down and his body never recovered. He is commemorated on the Commonwealth Airmen Memorial at Floriana, Malta. The Malta Memorial commemorates almost 2,300 airmen who lost their lives during the Second World War whilst serving with the Commonwealth Air Forces flying from bases in Austria, Italy, Sicily, islands of the Adriatic and Mediterranean, Malta, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, West Africa, Yugoslavia and Gibraltar, and who have no known grave. Derek was just 21 when he died.
John GEORGE Beresford 4 December 1893 - 31 May 1916 4th cousin 2x removed
George was part of the Royal Navy and was serving on the HMS Shark. HMS Shark, was an Acasta-class destroyer built in 1912 for the Royal Navy. Shark was sunk during the Battle of Jutland on the evening of 31 may 1916. George’s body was never recovered. He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. George was just 22 when he died.
Charles Beresford 1896 - 18th April 1915 - 4th cousin 2x removed
Charles was the younger brother of John George Beresford. He died at Ypres and he is commemorated at the Menin Memorial, West Vlaanderen. Charles was just 19 when he died.
Jack Alwyn Barrs 1920 - 3 November 1943 4th cousin 2x removed
Prior to enlisting in World War 2, Jack was a Bank Clerk. He found himself fighting hand to hand combat with the Japanese in the jungles of Burma. He survived almost 18 months in a Japanese POW camp prior to his death. He is commemorated at Thanbyuzayat, in Burma. Jack was just 23 when he died.
I wish I could find out more about those that lost their lives but, sadly, so little information survives. There is a famous quote - one that was put into popular culture by none other than the great artist Banksy, and it is one that struck a strong chord with me when I realized that many of these mentioned in this post died over 100 years ago.
"There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time."
Last year, I recorded the lives of William age 2, William Taylor, James Moody, Albert Pinder, Joseph Ducker and William Peavey. Through genealogical research over the last year I have added more names to the list of those who died.
Through this post today the following people are remembered and their names live on:
- William aged 2
- William Taylor aged 17
- James Moody aged 21
- Albert Pinder aged 26
- Joseph Ducker aged 22
- William Peavey aged 22
- Henry Victor Close aged 22
- George Godfrey Earnshaw aged 20
- Lionel Alwyne Watson aged 20
- Frank Snowdin aged 19
- Robert John Ducker aged 18
- Derek Hawcroft aged 21
- John George Beresford aged 22
- Charles Beresford aged 19
- Jack Alwyn Barrs aged 23
There, in the happy no-time of his sleeping,
Death took him by the heart. There heaved a quaking
Of the aborted life within him leaping,
Then chest and sleepy arms once more fell slack.
Asleep - Wilfred Owen, 1893-1918