RELATIVES of the Westbury men, who fell in Gallipoli on 10th August 1915 at the Battle of Chunuk Bair Ridge, joined together on Sunday 3rd June to share stories, family history and artefacts from their ancestors to learn about the fateful battle.
The research into the Westbury men who fell was started by Nigel Redmond, the great-grandson of Sgt Stuart George Pearce, after he found an old photograph on the top of his mother’s wardrobe of his great-grandfather. This ignited his search for answers and led him to visiting the site of his great-grandfather’s death in Gallipoli, to lay a wreath and a cross to remember him.
Research then followed into the families of the other remaining men who fell; Lance Corporal William Palmer of Dilton Marsh, Joseph Dew, Charles Young of Warminster Road, Arthur G Skull of Tinhead, now Edington, Thomas Hayward of Pickwick and Edward Sydney Smith of Hammersmith, with the help of Lynne Vercoe of the Westbury Family History Group and Eddie Bridges president of the Royal British Legion.
On Sunday 3rd June, the families of those men came together at the United Reformed Church with Nigel, to talk to each other about their fallen family member, showing everyone their family trees, artefacts and historic facts.
Nigel told White Horse News, “The aim of this meeting was to get everyone together to share photographs and research with each other. Most people have forgotten about Gallipoli, but we haven’t, it’s not forgotten by the people involved and we want to keep their memories alive and keep them going. They’re not forgotten, they don’t know us, but we know them – it’s not a forgotten campaign.”
Among the families were Viv and Pete Wheeler. Viv was the great-niece of Thomas Hayward, who died on the 16th August 1915 aged just 22.
“We met Mike Pearce, another relative of a man who fell, on a fluke in town one day,” said Viv. “We’re not sure how we got on to the subject, but in the end we realised that we both were relatives of men that fell in Gallipoli, and now here we are.”
Viv brought along her extensive collection of family history, including a ‘hard tack’ biscuit with an original photograph of her great-uncle Thomas Hayward stuck within it, who was originally from Pickwick in Corsham.
Also amongst the families was Norman Dew, a relative of Joseph Dew who died on the first day of the battle on the beaches. “We knew that we were descendants of a Gallipoli-serving soldier as my cousin had all of the records,” said Norman.
“We even have a copy of the letter than Joey’s friend wrote to his mother telling her of her son’s death. I have only known for the past five or six years, but it’s just fascinating to track back the entire family tree.”
The group is still looking for the relatives of Charles Young who lived on Warminster Road, Arthur G Skull from Tinhead, now Edington and Lance Corporal William Palmer of Dilton Marsh. If you have any information regarding these three men, please contact the Westbury Family History Group on westbury@wiltshire fhs.co.uk. The group is hoping to find the relatives before the 100-year commemoration of the Armistice in November.