Earlier this year, on the 92nd anniversary of the opening of the Battle of the Somme, I wrote a piece using extracts from an interview I'd conducted with Horace Ham. Horace was serving with the 16th Middlesex (Public Schools) Battalion and was wounded on 1st July 1916 before he even got out of the trench. The piece of shrapnel that hit him probably saved his life.
Less fortunate were the nearly 20,000 British soldiers who were killed in action that day, a figure that to me, still, is almost incomprehensible. Twenty thousand men. The equivalent of twenty British battalions give or take.
Horace recalled the Mellish brothers, the elder of whom was killed on 1st July, and I was delighted to receive an e-mail this morning from Sheila Jones whose great uncle, John Percival Turner, killed in action the same day, shares a grave with Alfred Mellish in Hawthorn Ridge cemetery. Sheila's son visited the Flanders battlefields earlier this year and took the two photos which are included here.
May John and Alfred rest in peace everlasting. Thank you Sheila for contacting me.