A short break from all the regular bookish things to allow me to put my Family History hat on.
I’ve mentioned in quite a few posts (mostly A-Z Challenge) some of my research into my family history, and today is remarkable in my family tree as 100 years ago today, my Great, Great Grandfather – James George Jupp – was killed in action in the First World War.
A farrier by trade, James Jupp was living in Richmond, where he completed an entry for the 1911 census. James and his wife Louisa had, at that time, 6 children which included my Great Grandmother, Dorothy.
At some time after the start of the First World War, James Jupp enlisted in the Royal Artillery as a Shoeing Smith. Given his age and marital status, it seems unlikely that he would have been called up for service – he was 46 at the start of the war – so I can only think that he volunteered.
After looking at the war diary for ‘C’ Battery of the 187th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery at the National Archive, I was unable to pinpoint the exact circumstances of his death on 23rd September 1916, but I corresponded with some WW1 historians – namely Andy Smerdon, an expert in the use of horses and mules in WW1 – and they managed to come up with a likely scenario for his death. The concensus was that James Jupp was posted with a Battery and travelling with them to shoe horses in emergency situations, many times under fire. It was likely on one of these occasions, that he was shoeing a horse with another Smith when they were hit by enemy fire – apparently over 700 Shoeing Smiths died in similar circumstances – and the site of Jupp’s burial, alongside only one other member of his Battery indicates that they were killed closeby and buried there with regular combat troops.
As you can from this Streetview, the area is quite open, so there would be little cover from enemy fire.
The site of this burial is at Caterpillar Valley Cemetery (managed by the CWGC) as shown below:
As part of my research, I was able to find a photo of James Jupp’s CWGC grave online, along with some general views of Caterpillar Valley.
No doubt this is just one of many, many family stories about ancestors killed in WW1, especially with the centenary currently ongoing, but I feel a much closer connection to those events of so long ago, knowing that my family was involved.
If you are especially interested in stories of those who died in the First World War, Lives of the First World War is working to make sure all those killed are remembered.