Finding a Lost Soldier

By Peter Spooner    With an interest in the Leicestershire Yeomanry I undertook research in respect of Percy Annis who, having initially served with the Regiment, was killed in action whilst serving with the 8th Squadron Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) in 1918. Whilst doing so I learnt that, two years before Percy’s death, his brother George Annis had died whilst serving.

Luckily George’s service record had survived, this identified that he had enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery at Woolwich on the 4th September 1914 and embarked for France on the 16th March 1915.  On the 21st January 1916 he was admitted to 4th London Field Ambulance suffering with jaundice and transferred to No. 16 General Hospital four days later. With his condition listed as serious George was evacuated to England on the 18th February 1916, being admitted to the University College Hospital London. George died there on the 24th April 1916, the cause of death being recorded as  pneumonia following an operation for appendicitis and he was buried in Highgate Cemetery London. Having discovered this information I decided to check his entry on the CWGC Register but he was not recorded.

An enquiry with the CWGC resulted in confirmation that he was not recorded within their records and that an application for this to be done would be considered. However, I would need to provide the CWGC with evidence that his death was linked to military service, along with evidence concerning his burial. This evidence would be considered by staff at the CWGC and, if deemed worthy of further consideration, it would be forwarded to the National Army Museum. I now felt  responsibility to provide the necessary evidence.

My first step was to contact Highgate Cemetery to obtain details as to the burial. Volunteers very kindly located the grave and provided me with details as to the location of the grave and the  information about George that was recorded on the headstone of the family grave.

As I already had supporting extracts from his service record I just needed a copy of his death certificate to provide the last link in the chain, this provided the required information recording the cause of death as jaundice and peritonitis.

Having collated the necessary documentation I submitted it to the CWGC for consideration. It was first considered by the CWGC Commemorations Section before being submitted it to the National Army Museum for adjudication. Taking 7½ months it was a slow process, the delay resulting from the increased work generated by interest in the centenary of the First World War but in due course I was notified that my application had been accepted. Gunner George Annis is now Remembered with Honour in the United Kingdom Book of Remembrance, he is also recorded with his brother on Edith Weston War Memorial.