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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Paul Roberts

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Why you should never give up on researching a Great War soldier


syd

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Never give up. That is the lesson I have learned time after time while researching soldiers who served in the Great War.

It took ten years to find and research 20 of the 30 grandsons of John Roberts who served their King and country between 1914 and 1918.

Among the great unresolved mysteries was the war service of three of the grandsons – brothers from Sandford, near Crediton in Devon.

I spent many long hours perusing old newspapers and looking through military, parish and other records to try and find out more about Archie, Harry and Walter Roberts.

The sons of Henry and Mary Roberts, of Sandford, all three survived the war and returned to live in Devon.

Archie, a local preacher and stalwart of Sandford Congregational Church, was given an emotional ‘farewell’ in his home village when he went to war.

Well-wishers in a packed church sang ‘God be with you till we meet again’ as Archie was called up in May 1917.

Parish records – and a rare prayer plaque for soldiers and sailors in St Swithun’s Church, Sandford – confirmed that his brothers, Harry and Walter also went to war.

Last year, I stood in St Swithun’s churchyard, looking at the graves of their parents, who died in the 1930s.

I took a photograph of the grave, wondering what they looked like – and what happened to their sons in the war.

I never expected to discover more about them.

But, having been in contact with descendants of the brothers in recent weeks, a breakthrough has finally been made in the past few days.

‘Lost’ pictures of Archie and Walter in WW1 uniform are among a collection of photographs that have just been returned to family members.

The collection includes wonderful pictures of Archie, Walter and other family members with their parents at a 50th wedding celebration.

Also among the images is an old newspaper report of the Golden Wedding of Archie and his wife, Lily.

It reveals that he had served in the Machine Gun Corps in the Great War.

His medal card and the awards roll – for recipients of the British War and Victory Medals – confirmed that he was a private in the MGC and that his service number was 131889.

It is now hoped that this information will help piece together his war service, although I realise this may be a very difficult task.

I have just put an appeal for information about Archie’s war service on the Great War Forum.

The discovery of Archie and Walter’s pictures has inspired me to find out more about them, and their brother, Harry.

The important and unexpected information that has emerged in the past few days has reminded me to never give up on a search.

The story of John Roberts and his 30 grandsons who went to war is told in the new book, History Maker.

The pictures show the prayer plaque for soldiers and sailors at St Swithun’s Church, Sandford, near Crediton, and the grave of Henry and Mary Roberts in Sandford.

Sandford Church prayer plaque.JPG

P31 - Henry and Mary Roberts grave - Sandford.JPG

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