Tag Archives: Somme

The Carus Brothers at War (Part 1)

I just took out a subscription to an internet newspaper archive last week and the first task I set myself was searching for some family history. With one branch of the family it has come up trumps.

You may have heard some of this before as I have mentioned it and have used the photographs before. Sorry for the repetition but with new information, and it being exactly 101 years to the day since his death, I thought it was worth another post.

I have many common names in the family but am fortunate in having one branch with the name of Carus. To make things better, they come from Clitheroe – a small town with its own newspaper.

Harry Carus (1887-1916) was my great grandfather. When I started researching him I knew that he was one of a large family, that he’s on the Clitheroe war memorial and that he left a wife and three daughters when he died. He was a chapel-goer, Sunday school teacher and member of  a self-improvement club called the PSA (I believe that’s Peaceful Sunday Afternoon). He joined up as a volunteer and, on his last leave before going to France, laughed when his irate wife discovered that the three girls had found, and mostly eaten, the special cake baked for his last visit.

It had been on a top shelf in the kitchen and my grandmother had climbed up the lower shelves like a ladder before passing down to my Auntie Peggie – second in age and partner in crime.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives the information that he died on 10.10.16. He was a Corporal, aged 28, belonged to “B” Battery of the 180th Brigade
Royal Field Artillery. He was the son of H. A. and Margaret Carus, of 27, West View, Clitheroe, Lancashire and husband of the late Ellenor Carus.

This was during the latter, rainy, part of the Somme battle and was probably every bit as hellish as we imagine the First World War to be.

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the iconic arched memorial that lists the names of  72,396 Somme casualties who also have no known grave. In a later post I may well come back to the phrase “no known grave” as it’s an interesting subject in itself.

As more details became available from the release of records I was able to learn a little more about him.  He had four brothers and two sisters, worked for a grocer and his last known address is still standing. I have visited it using Google Maps.

The army medal rolls show that he went to France on 28.11.15 and is entitled to the 1914-15 Star, War Medal and Victory Medal. They spell his name “Carns”. His family was also given a bronze commemorative plaque and a scroll. On the subject of names, his wife was Eleanor, so even CWGC aren’t perfect.

When I searched the newspapers I was able to find the memorial notices posted a year after his death, and pin down a couple more family addresses. The family was still together in those days – the remarriage and death of Eleanor  and the separation of the girls was still to come, as Harry’s death continued to affect them in the coming years.

I was also able to find a mention of his death in the “25 Years Ago” column, when it was noted that he had been in a gun pit with six others when a shell landed in it and killed five of them. Presumably this was what had been contained in a letter at the time of his death – my grandmother had always said he was hit by a shell that killed him instantly and left nothing for burial. It’s nice to have corroboration but I’m not sure it’s true, it was just what people wrote home to parents and widows to hide the truth.

That, in a nutshell, is the life and death of Harry Carus.


Roadside Poppies

One hundred years ago

Friday 1st July 2016.

I’m sure that there will be enough written about the first day of the Battle of the Somme without me adding to it, but I can’t resist the temptation.

Sorry about the departure from normal content – I’ll get back to that soon.

Joseph Victor Plumb isn’t a famous name in military history. I first came across him on our local war memorial when we moved to a village near Peterborough. In the days before you could press a computer button and be given reams of information I read the local papers in the library to find out more about the names on the memorial (I was a very strange child). It seems that on 1st July Private Plumb stood in reserve with the rest of the 6th Northamptons and had a narrow escaped when a bullet holed his steel helmet. Having survived death by an inch he should have been saved for better things but instead, in the attack on Trones Wood 14 days later he qualified to have his name carved on a memorial.

Harry Carus worked for a grocer, and was a Sunday school teacher in his spare time when he joined up. He landed in France on 28th November 1915 and seems to have been quite a useful soldier because he was a Corporal by 1916. On 1st July he had 102 days to live.

The pictures show him with the lady referred to as “the late Ellenor Carus” by the Commonwealth War Graves details. She died of in the TB hospital at Lancaster in 1920. This sort of thing wasn’t uncommon as many widows did not live long after their husbands. The eldest of the three sisters is my grandmother. There is a bit more to the story than I’m telling here but this isn’t one of those books about miserable childhoods, and anyway, it could have been worse.

If you look at the memorial scroll sent by the government you will see that there is a line that says “Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten”.


This is ironic when you see they have misspelt his name.