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  • Christina Drummond

Private Edward Cyril Groves and Lance Corporal Reginald Groves, 20th (County of London) Battalion, t

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Private Edward Cyril Groves, 20th (County of London) Battalion, the London Regiment (Blackheath and Woolwich), was killed in action on the day of the surrender of Jerusalem. Commander-in-Chief Sir Edmund Allenby had been told by Prime Minister David Lloyd-George to take Jerusalem by Christmas, which he did with just over two weeks to spare, although there was still some sporadic fighting that day and afterwards.

Private Groves left school at the age of fourteen, and then joined the Territorial Army at Blackheath a year later; he was sixteen at the outbreak of the Great War, and eighteen when he was sent to the fighting in France. He spent five months in the trenches before his unit moved to Macedonia for three months, where he became so ill that he spent eight months in hospital and was not able to go with his unit to Egypt at that time.

Private Groves’ older brother, Lance Corporal Reginald Groves of the same regiment (in the photo on the right), was posted as missing in October of 1916 after spending four months in the fighting on the Somme; he was 20 years old. The photographs were taken in 1913, when Edward was fifteen and Reginald seventeen. Their mother died of cancer while he was on his way to Egypt, three weeks before his death. It is believed that Private Groves received the news of his mother’s death around the time that he had no choice but to accept that, after a year of being missing, his beloved brother Reg must be dead. It was believed by a family member that it all became too much for him (“He went over the top and dun himself in”) as he was suffering not only from the loss of his mother and brother, the after-effects of his illness, but also more than likely from shell-shock. He is buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetery; his brother has no known grave.

Edward, from Lewisham, was 19 years old.

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