Brother saw sibling killed during tragic 1917 battle

Respect: Arthur Rose at the tree commemorating the death of his uncle, Albert Rose, who was killed in June 1917

Respect: Arthur Rose at the tree commemorating the death of his uncle, Albert Rose, who was killed in June 1917

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

A WAR veteran whose uncle died fighting in the First World War said a remembrance service was a fitting tribute to his relative.

Witney resident Arthur Rose, 89, attended the service at Carterton Community Centre, where plaques were unveiled next to eight trees planted to mark each First World War servicemen with a town connection.

Among those being remembered was his uncle Albert William Rose, a private in the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) who died in Cambrai, France, on June 22, 1917, aged 21.

Mr Rose said his father, also called Arthur, served in the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and the Corps alongside his brother.

The grandfather-of-two, who was brought up in Carterton and served in the Second World War in the RAF 10, 76 and 78 squadrons as a leading aircraftsman airframe engineer based in Yorkshire, said: “They went over the top of a trench one morning. Even though they were in the Machine Gun Corps they only had rifles.

“My father looked back and saw Albert had been hit by bullets or shrapnel but the sergeant wouldn’t allow to him to go back for him.

“He had to wait until the evening and then found out his brother had died.

“I think in the end he realised it was better not to see his brother because he didn’t want to see him shot to pieces.

“He never knew what it was that killed him, whether it was shrapnel or bullets, but he was quite badly injured from what other people told him and they took his body straight away behind the lines.”

Mr Rose said his father was only wounded once by shrapnel and returned to Carterton to start a family.

He had three children with wife Jane, naming his eldest son Albert, now 88, after his brother, as well as Richard, who died about a decade ago aged 64.

Mr Rose said: “It was very difficult to get anything out of my dad – he was like a lot of them who come back, very shellshocked and only too pleased to forget about it.

“It was very nice seeing my uncle’s name there and I felt very proud.

“At least someone has recognised him for what he did.”

The community centre planted the mountain ash trees last autumn in recognition of the eight men, who also feature on the war memorial outside Carterton Town Hall.

About 100 people attended the service, including representatives from RAF Brize Norton, the Royal Air Forces Association, Royal Naval Association, Royal British Legion and the 2267 (Brize Norton) Squadron of the Air Training Corps.

Centre chairman Brian Crossland said there were only about 320 residents in Carterton a century ago but after years of growth there are now more than 15,000 people.

He added: “They went off to war 100 years ago and never came back. When you think about the impact those eight men had on a small community like this was, it was huge.”

 

The Others

  • Private Reginald William Christie Anderson – Army Service Corps – died aged 39 on April 13, 1915
  • Able Seaman Thomas Chamberlain – Mercantile Marine – died aged 59 on May 27, 1917
  • Private John Albert Harris Collard – Ox & Bucks Light Infantry – died aged 18 on December 2, 1918
  • Private Alfred James Gibson – Wiltshire Regiment – died aged 30 on January 30, 1918
  • Private Robert Briercliffe Gee – Royal Berkshire Regiment – died aged 37 on December 10, 1916
  • P A Harris – no information known
  • Corporal Henry Francis White – Royal Scots Fusiliers – died aged 21 on October 23, 1914

 

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