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
Paul Goad of Frenchgate told us about his Great-Uncle, Henry Jesse Richardson. Henry was born in March 1889 in Hailsham, East Sussex, where he lived prior to enlistment. In the 1911 census he gave his profession as Mat Making, his Father William, being a Mat Weaver at that time. Hailsham had a vibrant string, twine and rope based industry at the time from which they gained their employment. Henry enlisted in 1916 at Purfleet and joined the 13th London Regiment (Princess Louise’s Kensington Battalion). Henry’s Service medal and Award Rolls show that he served on the Western Front from September 1st 1916 until his death on August 16th 1917 at the Battle of Langemarck. During his time in theatre Henry’s Battalion were in action at the Battles of Ginchy, Flers-Courcelette and Morval in 1916 and the Second Battle of Arras in 1917. Henry’s burial spot is at Ypres, Arrondissement Ieper, West Flanders Belgium. He is also remembered on the roll of Hailsham War Memorial.
Matthew Bell was born in West Scrafton, Coverdale on 21 October 1895. He served with the Yorkshire Regiment, initially joining before the war with the 4th Territorial Battalion, probably around 1912 according to his regimental number (3899). He later served with the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (235593) before returning to the Yorkshire Regiment later in the war. He went to France on the last day of September 1915 and survived the war, being awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his service. Matthew died aged only 40. Two of his children are still alive and living in Leyburn but they don’t remember him. His youngest child was born posthumously which must have been very hard for his widow.
When Edward Pickard died in 1928 at the age of 56 he had given 36 years of his life to the Green Howards. Most of the town of Richmond turned out to his funeral on Friday July 21st with the mourners being headed by General Sir Edwin Bulfin, Colonel of the Regiment from 1914 to 1939. Edward Pickard enlisted as a Green Howard in 1891, and rapidly rose through the ranks. He was one of very few officers to fight with his unit throughout the First World War, during which he served as Quarter Master to the 2nd Battalion. Pickard was the first Green Howard to fire at the enemy in the First World War – shooting two Uhlans (German mounted lancers) while trying to allocate billets to his men in Ypres! His ‘batman’ or servant, Charles Porteous Hellings who was with Pickard for a total of 14 years survived the war and is pictured here with Pickard in the grounds of the Depot in Richmond.