Mary Butcher says it was only later in life that she realised the anguish her grandparents must have suffered during World War One.
Mary, 80, from Hollywell Row, now feels that during the centenary we should pay tribute to people like her grandparents John and Caroline Frost, of The Green, West Row, who had three sons go to war.
The couple married in 1887 and had four daughters and three sons, and all three sons went into the army. One never came back and of the two who did return, one had been reported missing.
Mary said: “It is only in my later years that I have realised the full significance of all this and wonder how my grandparents and the four sisters coped during this sad time and how many other families share a similar experience.”
James Frost was the eldest, born 1889, and joined the Army in 1913 as a regular soldier. He was posted to France at the outbreak of the war.
In 1918, while serving in the Royal Artillery, he was lost his left arm in action. Then, while he was recovering from the amputation, the military hospital was captured by German forces and he became a prisoner of war.
But Mary says the family was told he was reported ‘missing, presumed dead’. He finally returned home in 1919.
The second son William was a private in the 10th battalion ‘The Queen’s’, the Royal West Surrey Regiment. He died, aged 20, on the August 19, 1917, when his unit was involved in the Battle of Passchendaele.
He is buried at Godewaersvelde, France, and commemorated on his parents’ headstone in St Peter’s Church, West Row.
Mary added: “The youngest son, my father Arthur, enlisted just after his 18th birthday on the 25th August 1917 and served for about a year.
“To think that their youngest son went to war so soon after William died and then not long after that James was reported missing.
“I was born in 1933 and so I never knew my Uncle William. My father died when I was one, and I do not remember him.”
But Mary does remember her Uncle Jim who was a park keeper in Bury St Edmunds’ Abbey Gardens.
She recalls: “As a child I was always fascinated by the metal hook that had been fitted to replace the arm that he had lost.
“He was a very good carpenter and I have a cabinet that he made for my parents when they married in 1929.”
His daughter, Edna Dennehey, presented his war medals to Bury’s Moyses Hall Museum in 2003.
Do you have relatives who served in World War One? We would particularly like to hear of any women who served as nurses. Contact John Henderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01284 757821