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
Erasmus Darwin was born on the 7th December 1881 in Cambridge and lived at ‘The Orchard’. He was the only son of Horace Darwin FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society) who was Chairman of the Cambridge Scientific Society. He was also the grandson of the famous naturalist Charles Darwin. Erasmus was educated at Horris Hill School near Newbury and at Marlborough. He then went on to Trinity College, Cambridge University to study Mathematics. On leaving Cambridge he worked at Mather and Platts in Manchester, a hydraulics and pump engineering company. He then moved on to work for Bolckow, Vaughn & Co Ltd Iron and Steel in Middlesbrough, whereby, at the outbreak of the war he was Secretary of the Company. He lived at the time at Saltburn on the north east Yorkshire coast. As soon as war broke out he joined up and was gazetted on the 12th September 1914 as a 2nd Lieutenant the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Apparently just before he left England he was summoned to the War Office and offered a Staff appointment at home in connection to munitions work. Though the work was important he opted to stay with his unit making the case that there were plenty of older men equally qualified for the work. The 4th Battalion arrived in France on the 18th April 1915 and were straight away into the 2nd Ypres offensive which started on the 22nd April. The Battalion was involved in the Battle of St Julien in the heart…
Story submitted by Mrs Drury. Jack (John Adam) Bell was the son of a gamekeeper at Langdon Beck in Teesdale, County Durham. He grew up in the countryside a became a railway clerk. When he joined the army and went to experience life in the trenches he had the horror of standing next to a fellow soldier when his head was blown off. Jack also had to endure the news that his own brother had been killed. Jacks country knowledge became most useful in the mire of Flanders. He would cut trenches to make a sleeping place out of the mud, trap rabbits and stew them in a metal helmet. He would look after horses for officers who had never had to look after their own mounts before. He described how starved the horses were near the front line – the near stampedes when fodder was brought and how the horses gnawed each others’ manes and tails for food. He remembered how long the cavalry had to stand mounted and how weak horses collapsed. Remounts were needed constantly and Jack was sent in to break in and train them. He was stationed on the Thames, possibly at Tilbury, to receive horses, practically wild sent by ship from South America and often in a sorry state on arrival. He had six weeks to prepare each batch (size unknown) for dispatch abroad. During this training Jack rode these recovered and lively horses with a ladies side saddle as he said it was…
Submitted by Pauline Blewis. George was born in Old Malton and joined the Green Howards in around 1905. In the same year he married Annie Hemstock, a Richmond girl. Their family of three sons and a daughter were raised in the barracks, now the Garden Village. George served during the Boer War and during the First World War was transferred to the 13th Battalion (October 1915)- the battalion was made up of ‘Bantams’. George served through the war up to the Battle of Cambrai. On 23rd November 1917 he was sent up to the front line with his battalion with the aim of taking Bourlon Wood and village. Tanks were sent in with the infantry following up, eventually the village was taken after hand to hand fighting. George died during this advance and while his body was never found his name is inscribed on Panel 5 of the Cambrai Memorial. After his death the family were moved from the barracks into a house inside Richmond Castle.