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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Paul Roberts

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Families united in grief - 25 years after three brothers married three sisters




It was a rare series of weddings – three brothers marrying three sisters in the same village parish church in rural Devon.

The brothers, all sons of John and Mary Roberts, wed the daughters of William and Mary Morrish at All Saints Church, Rackenford between 1889 and 1891.

John Roberts Jnr, a gunner in the Royal Artillery, married Elizabeth Morrish on March 20, 1889.

Samuel Roberts wed Maria Morrish on March 26, 1890.

And Thomas Roberts and Mary Ann Morrish were joined in marriage on March 6, 1891.

The three couples would go on to have 20 children between them, 15 of them sons.

Just over 25 years later, they would be united in grief.

Remarkably, each of the three couples had three sons serving in the Army in the Great War.

Four of the nine would not make it home.

Two of John Jnr and Elizabeth’s boys, Sam and John Francis (Frank), were killed within weeks of each other in 1916.

Sam was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. Frank died when he was hit by a shrapnel bomb while making a cup of tea in the trenches.

Samuel and Maria lost their second son, Jack in the aftermath of the Battle of Aubers Ridge in France in 1915.

And Thomas and Mary Ann’s third son, Albert, died from wounds sustained in or after the Battle of Loos in France in 1915.

The devastation of the Great War is starkly demonstrated in statistics that almost defy belief.

Eighteen million soldiers and civilians died in four years of fighting and more than 20 million were wounded.

More than 950,000 British soldiers were killed in action, died of wounds or from disease.

Sam, Frank, Jack and Albert were four of the 30 grandsons of John Roberts who served in the Great War. Their stories are told in the new book, History Maker.

The picture, supplied by Monica Pike, of Tiverton, shows Thomas Morrish – brother of the three sisters who married the three Roberts brothers.

Thomas Morrish.jpg



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