THE great-grandson of an Oxfordshire man who was killed in the First World War will travel to France next week to visit the village where he was killed.
Private John Garlick of the 1st Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment was killed on 26 August, 1914, during the Retreat from Mons in Maroilles, north east France.
His descendant Simon Pratt, an accountant from Dunstable, Bedfordshire, will now travel to Maroilles with the First World War centenary edition of the Oxford Mail from August 4, after he discovered that Pte John Garlick had appeared on the front page.
He said: “My mum’s cousin Clifford Garlick, who lives in Didcot, saw the paper and got in touch with me because we share an interest in our family history.
“I thought it would be fitting to go back to Maroilles with the paper and pay tribute to my great-grandfather.”
Mr Pratt, 49, said he started looking into his great-grandfather’s war record about five years ago.
He said: “I did some tracking back to find out more about his war record and discovered he was killed in the first battle the Royal Berkshire Regiment was involved in, the Retreat from Mons.
“When I traced it I decided to go to France. I wrote to the Mayor there and he put me in contact with their local history society who showed me where the battle took place.
“It turns out 18 Royal Berkshire soldiers were killed on the same day and are buried in the village cemetery.
“I wanted to go back for the centenary from a personal point of view, so I contacted them again and they are having a ceremony there on August 26.
“Another relative of the 18 is going as well. There will be some kind of re-enactment.”
Pte Garlick, of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, was an army reservist who had formerly served as a full-time soldier in India with the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
When Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, he was living and working in Brightwell as a farm labourer with wife Elsie and their two children, Elsie, 20 months, and John, seven months.
Mr Pratt said: “Two other men from Brightwell who were reservists were fighting alongside him at Maroilles – we don’t know anything about them other than they were called Saunders.
“One was injured and my great-grandfather pulled him back behind the lines for treatment.
“He then went back to battle and was never seen or heard of again.”
Private John Garlick of the 1st Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment
“I would like to get in touch with anyone who knows who the Saunders were, if they still have family in the Wallingford area.”
Pte Garlick’s body was never found. He is remembered at the La Ferte-sous-Jouarre memorial, Seine-et-Marne.
His daughter Elsie continued to live in Wallingford, working for South Oxfordshire District Council, until her death in 2006.
She was married twice, to Thomas Butten, who she divorced, and Alec Edwards, who died in the early 1960s.
Mr Pratt, who visits Brightwell every few weeks to maintain her grave, said: “The emotional element of the trip to France is important, especially as my grandmother was a big influence on my life.”
“Her father’s death had a big effect on their family.”