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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

John Roberts - the man with '30' grandsons in the Great War


syd
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Four years ago, I found on an online archive a grainy old picture of a John Roberts with a caption explaining that he had '30' grandsons in the Great War. He looked like my dad, but I had no reason to believe we were linked in any way. Years of research showed that John Roberts was my great-great-grandfather and did indeed have between 20 and 30 grandsons serving in the Great war, many of them serving in the Devonshire Regiment. The grandsons - also serving in the Devon Yeomanry, the Royal Engineers, Queen's Westminster Rifles, 13th Hussars and other regiments - were from Witheridge, Cruwys Morchard, Washford Pyne, Tiverton and other rural parishes in Devon. John lived to the great age of 90, dying at Newland Farm, Witheridge in 1919 after losing seven of his grandsons in the war. I have been able to trace 16 of those grandsons and the story of John and his grandsons is to be published in 2015. Local newspapers believed John had set a record when so many of his grandsons volunteered to fight. He had a large family - 17 children and 60 or more grandchildren. I am completing the final research now to ensure - to the best of my ability - that the content will be accurate and relevant. I would love to trace all John's grandsons who served, but this may not be possible. However, John's story is a good example of the sacrifices so many families in Devon and Britain faced between 1914-18.

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Thank you D. One of the survivors was in the 13th Hussars and took part in the Fight at Lajj, which rivalled the Charge of the Light Brigade. British soldiers had to contend with Turkish troops burying themselves in trenches and firing into the bellies of horses as they charged overhead. The fight is little known these days - lost among all the other major battles in the Middle East.

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