Northamptonshire family made ultimate sacrifice in First World War when three brothers died in conflict

Remembrance Sundays are and will always be significant to many across Great Britain and for one Harpole family, it is a yearly reminder of the tragic loss of three of its sons, whose lives were claimed during the First World War.

Wednesday, 31st October 2018, 10:25 am
Clockwise from top left: Private Joseph Boyes, Lance Corporal James Boyes, Corporal James Boyes and their father Lance Sergeant Walter Boyes

Lance Corporal Charles Boyes, Corporal James Boyes and Private Joseph R. Boyes all perished between February 1915 and October 1917 and every year after their deaths, their sister Alice and her family would lay a wreath at the Harpole memorial.

That tradition is continued to this day by her son Leslie Smith, who, on November 11 this year, will again remember his uncles alongside his son and daughter.

"I didn't know them personally because I was born later but my mother used to talk to me about them a lot," said 86-year-old Mr Smith.

"She always laid flowers at the Harpole memorial.

"Losing three from one family was a great loss.

"I don't know how my mother coped with something so dreadful."

The youngest, Private Joseph Boyes, died aged 19 and was laid to rest at Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension in Bailleul in French Flanders, two miles from the Belgian border.

He was called up at 18 while working for Messrs Smith, Major and Stevens Limited in Northampton.

He joined the 3rd Northants on November 4, 1916, and later transferred to the 13th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers.

Wounds to his back, hands, legs and face suffered on September 30, 1917, resulted in his death two days later on October 2.

Lance Corporal Charles Boyes of the 6th Northants Regiment joined up one month after the outbreak of war and went to France the following July.

He was wounded in October 1915 and recovered but was killed on the first day of the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, the first large offensive mounted by the Reserve Army during the Battle of the Somme. He is one of many soldiers to have no known grave.

The first Boyes brother to fall in the Great War was 28-year-old Corporal James Boyes of the 5th Northumberland Fusiliers.

He served nine years in India from 1906 to 1915, when he was called to France.

After five weeks' service in France, he received wounds from which he died at Boulogne Hospital on February 22, 1915; he is buried in the French town.

The father of the Harpole heroes, Lance Sergeant Walter Boyes, served 26 years in the Althorp Volunteers and Territorials.

His three sons were scholars of the Harpole Baptist Sunday School.