In October 2015 the Green Howards Museum was contacted by the Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and
Compassionate Centre (JCCC). Human remains had been found in a field to the north-
east of the village of Martinpuich on the Somme.
The JCCC wanted to know if we could do anything to help identify this unknown soldier.
We looked at events around Martinpuich between 25 and 27 September 1916.
77 men were lost, whilst an additional 319 Officers and Other Ranks
were either wounded, or listed as ‘missing’. The remains could have belonged to any
one of a potential 396 men.
Through a process of elimination using research and archive information, we produced
a shortlist of 12. To get any further, science needed to play its part. The Forensic team
from JCCC collected DNA from the femur of the remains. DNA was taken from the next of
kin of our shortlisted missing soldiers who had agreed to take part in the process.
The remains were positively identified as those of 3183 Private Henry Parker, born 29th
September 1893 in Weavererthorpe, in the Yorkshire Wolds. He was killed in action, aged
22, during the Battle of the Somme on 26 September 1916.
Shoulder badges, uniform buttons, a belt buckle and clip, bullet and cut throet razor
were found with the remains of Private Henry Parker – these are now on display at the museum.
He was reburied with full military honours in Warlencourt Cemetary in France on 17th
The museum is grateful for the generosity of the Parker family who have donated the
items for display here.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
John Matthew Hewison lived in Penshaw and enlisted at the start of the war at Shiney Row. He was the son of Matthew and Anne Hewison of Shiney Row and he was married to Agnes. He would have left for France in late August 1915 and the 8th Battalion would have been involved in training and undergoing acclimatisation visits to the front line when he was killed in action on September 22nd. 14961 Private John Hewison died at the age of 22 and had been in France for only 3 weeks. He was awarded the 14/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His wife inherited his effects of 14s/4d and a gratuity of £3-10s. He was buried at Brewery Orchard Cemetery, Bois-Grenier.
Arthur John Rispin was born in Stockton-on-Tees in 1888. His father, Thomas was a stoker on the railways and his mother called Mary Ann attended to domestic work. He married Mary Elizabeth in 1910 – unfortunately they lost a child in the first year of their marriage. Few records survive relating to his service during the First World War, apart from those relating to his death on 9th October 1918 aged 31. In his photograph he is wearing a badge on his collar signifying that he served with the 12th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment which was the Pioneer Battalion. However upon his death he is listed as serving with the 9th Battalion. His effects and a war gratuity of £21 were left to his widow, Mary. Arthur is commemorated on the Town Memorial in Stockton, and the Busigny Communal Cemetery near St. Quentin, France.
Marguerite was born on the 25th March 1892 in Kensington London. From an early age she had a love of books. She attended Norland Place School in Notting Hill. It was soon apparent that she was academically gifted. She also excelled at sport, especially Hockey. During the war years she became Honorary Secretary of the Norland School Old Girls Association. Marguerite left school in 1908 and went on to higher education attaining First Class honours at the Cambridge Higher Local with a distinction in history. In 1910 she went to Dresden in Germany to study culminating in First Class Honours again with a distinction in spoken German. She was also fluent in French. In January 1911 went to Canada in what was a combines holiday/studying venture. October of that year would see her entering Clough Hall Newham College Cambridge to study further in the German language, again attaining First Class honours. At the outbreak of war Marguerite was employed by the Young Men’s Christian Society (YMCA). The Society had been established in London in 1844 as a prayer and bible study group. At the outbreak of war it turned their attention to providing support for servicemen. In November 1914, working with the BEF, it established centres in France. By 1918 there were over 300 centres. Marguerite would find herself working in the War Office Translation Bureau because of her language skills. From March 1918 Marguerite was part of the Army Education Service of the YMCA at Etaples on the northern…