Little Blakenham’s only war veteran who died during First World War honoured 100 years after death

The memorial service in Little Blakenham marking 100 years since Herbert Welham died during the Firs

The memorial service in Little Blakenham marking 100 years since Herbert Welham died during the First World War. Stephen Turner (left) and David Turner are descendents. - Credit: Archant

A special commemoration was held today to honour the 100th anniversary of the death of the only Little Blakenham war veteran who died during the First World War.

Private Herbert Percy Welham joined the Suffolk Regiment aged 17 and was due to serve and join his two older brothers in France but died during training of double pneumonia and pericarditis at Aylesbury Military Hospital on March 11, 1916.

Around 30 people, including two family members, past members of the Royal Anglian Regiment, standard bearers and villagers gathered for the public service at St Mary Little Blakenham church yesterday morning.

Event organiser Melvin Gregory and David Empson, of the Suffolk Branch of the Western Front Association, paid tribute to Pte Welham during the church service.

Brothers David Turner, 78, of Old Newton and Stephen Turner, 71, of Debenham, then laid wreaths at the grave of their third cousin. A two-minute silence was also held while the Last Post was played.

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David Turner said: “It was a special day and I’m glad that he was remembered. There was a fantastic turnout and we would like to thank everybody who attended.”

Pte Welham was born in Somersham and lived in Leather Bottle Hill, Little Blakenham.

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Mr Empson said: “He was one of around 250,000 who joined the British Army underage. They were the bravest young men and wanted to fight for king and country.

“It is extremely unusual for a village to have only one veteran who died while serving, but it is also tragic in this case as he would have certainly gone to France.”

Standard bearer Kenneth Goodway, 75, who aslo served in the Suffolk Regiment, added: “I think it is wonderful that he was remembered and people came to pay their respects. I just wanted to say goodbye to him.”

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