PRIVATE ALBERT WELLINGTON JARMAN
1ST APRIL 1919 AGE 30
BURIED: LEICESTER (WELFORD ROAD) CEMETERY, LEICESTER, UK
Albert Wellington Jarman was born in Leicester and died in Leicester thirty years later. In the intervening years he had gone to Canada to live and work, returned to Europe to fight, and come back to Leicester to die. He is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's section of Leicester's Walford Road Cemetery, which is less than a mile from his father's home in Havelock Road.
Albert's parents were William and Priscilla Jarman. William Jarman was a shoe maker - as was much of the population of Leicester. Priscilla died and in 1896 William remarried. Eleven-year-old Albert was still living at home with his father and step-mother in 1901, but by 1911 he had gone to Canada. He settled in Londesborough, a small community in Ontario, from where he enlisted in February 1916, describing himself as a farmer.
Jarman joined the 161st Huron Battalion, part of the Western Ontario Regiment. On the night of the 9 October 1916 the 777 Huron County men of the 161st Battalion dined, drank and danced at the Bedford Hotel and the Oddfellows Hall in Goderich before marching to the station the next day and embarking for Europe - 551 of them would not return.
Jarman died on 1 April 1919, almost five months after the end of the war. His death is described in the cemetery register as 'following wounds'. Unfortunately that is all I have been able to discover about his death. There is no indication as to where or when he was wounded, nor the nature of the wounds. However, for general purposes the war was deemed to have ended on 31 August 1921. This meant that those who died of wounds incurred during their military service before that date are counted as having died during the First World War.
I don't imagine that Jarman died at home. Leicester was the location of the 5th Northern General Hospital, which had more than 2,600 beds and occupied several buildings in Leicester and North Evington. It admitted more than 95,000 casualties during its existence, of which 514 had died. Some of these will be among the 344 casualties buried in the Walford Road Cemetery; perhaps one of them was Alfred Jarman.
Alfred's father chose his inscription - 'He gave his life that we should live'. This is very close to the opening line of a poem by someone who was probably the most popular poet of the First World War, and is probably someone you have never heard of - John Oxenham, the pseudonym for William Arthur Dunkerley (1852-1941).
They died that we might live,
Hail and Farewell!
- All honour give
To those who nobly striving nobly fell,
That we might live!
The poem is a strange combination of the Roman poet Catullus's lovely tribute to his brother's grave, Ave Atque Vale, and the Christian concept of sacrifice. Christ's sacrifice for mankind was equated in many people's minds with the sacrifice the hundreds of thousands of young men made who died for the safety and security of the British Empire. According to the narrative, they 'gave' their lives so that people might be able to live - to live free from the threat of German militarism.
This inscription will feature as part of the Global War Graves Leicester project, which aims "to explore and bring to light how the 298 First World War casualties came to be buried in the cemetery, how their identities were negotiated in death; and how even the British burials alongside them also had connections throughout and beyond the UK. The purpose of this research will be to challenge and expand our understandings of the relationship between local and global in terms of Leicester and the First World War".