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Historians look to learn more about Haverhill’s WWI volunteers who came back home

John Ives, seated on the left
John Ives, seated on the left

Haverhill Family History Group is on a quest to find out about the lives of hundreds of First World War volunteers who survived and came home.

The group is putting together an event for November to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice, part of which is detailing as much as it can the stories of the men who volunteered for action and came home - the group has already chronicled the lives of those who failed to return home.

Charmian Thompson, from the group, asked: “Did one of your ancestors serve in the Armed Forces. Do you have any photos or information about them that you would be willing to share for an upcoming display.”

On September 26, 1914, the local press published a list of 192 men from Haverhill and nearby villages who had volunteered, of which 23 did not come home.

On October 3 another 27 names were published - three of which failed to return home - and hundreds more went on to volunteer until conscription was introduced in April 1916.

Three of those from the Haverhill area who are known to have volunteered were under age, being just 15 or 16.

But luckily in the cases of Edward Basham and John Ives, who were both 16 when they signed up but both claimed to be 19, they were sent home after serving some time in the trenches (Edward for seven months and John for 14) because their mothers informed the military authorities that they were under age.

Although they did both return to action once they were 18, they survived the war.

Sadly, Reginald Morley, of Withersfield Road, Haverhill, had signed up in June 1915 when he was just 15 was not so fortunate and was killed in action in May 1918.

Of particular interest to the group are families who lived in the following Haverhill streets in the first half of the war and whose descendants may have joined the Armed Forces; Meeting Walk, Mount Road, Duddery Road, Eden Road, Vine Cottages, Burton End, Primrose Hill, Crowland Road, Downs Place, Withersfield Road and Broad Street.

If you can help the group with further information please contact Brian Thompson on 01440 712652 or email haverhill@suffolkfhs.org.uk.

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