One of our regular contributors and a member of the CI Great War Study Group, Barrie Bertram, is hoping that information will be forthcoming about Private Gerald St John de la Perrelle, who was aged just 17 when he died on 3 July 1916 and who is buried at Ribemont-sur-Ancre Cemetry; and about Harry Huxford who is buried alongside several Jerseymen, including Arthur Pirouet and Geoffrey Millais, at the nearby Heilly Station Cemetry.
Barrie explains that a few months ago, while touring the Somme battlefields, he visited several Great War cemetries, including two in the rear area of the battlefield, just south of the Amiens-Albert Road, to photograph Channel Islander graves.
‘The first port of call was at Ribemont-sur-Ancre, and having taken pictures of Lieutenant John Peyton’s headstone, I was positioning myself for a broader view of the cemetery when I almost fell over another headstone, that of Private Gerald St John De La Perrelle.
‘The obvious reaction was to note the Jersey surname and that he was just 17 when he had died of wounds on 3rd July, 1916, being clearly an under age soldier.
‘Subsequent research has shown that he was born in Westminster, enlisted in Lambeth and was living in Greenford, while it was highly likely that he was wounded on the morning of 2 July when his unit, 6th Battalion, The Queen’s Regiment, attacked the Germans at Ovillers. Unfortunately a Jersey link has not been established even with the surname.’
A few miles further on, Barrie visited Heilly Station Cemetry, an area where several casualty clearing stations were located to treat wounded men and to send many back for treatment vial rail to Amiens and beyond.
‘The cemetery bears sad testimony to the fact that many of those casualties failed to make those trains heading away from the Somme, including Arthur Pirouet, Geoffrey Millais and Harry Huxford, and it was Harry’s headstone that provided the second surprise as it had been visited in the previous few weeks,’ said Barry.
‘The evidence was in two plastic covered photographs, one showing him as a member of a Battery Tug of War team, and later, Toovey’s photograph, of Harry with his family in Jersey. Research has shown that although he had been born in Cork, he had enlisted at Elizabeth Castle in Jersey, with his father George possibly having been a member of the Garrison Artillery stationed there.
‘While a Jersey link exists, it is likely to have been transitory with the Huxford family living on the Island for some four or five years.’
• If anyone can help Barrie with his research, he can be contacted via the Channel Islands in the Great War website (www.greatwarci.net) or by e-mail at email@example.com. nextpage