May 23, 2009 - A Memorial - 2nd Lieut. Frederick Henry Abraham - Part 1

22 May 2009

Good day,

And the question was, "Where is the final resting place of my granduncle Frederick Henry Abraham?" He was killed in World War I on the 2nd of October, 1918, and I wanted to find his final and exact resting place.

I had been told that granduncle Frederick Henry's grave was someplace in France, somewhere near the northern border in a place called Joncourt... and that's almost halfway between Brussels and Paris. I had gathered some bits of information, data, and photographs from family and friends. (Thanks Toni and Zoe.) These pieces most certainly held the keys to where granduncle Frederick Henry was laid to rest.

Granduncle 2nd Lieutenant Frederick Henry Abraham, pictured at the left, was born on the 4th of July, 1886 at Soesdyke, Demerara, British Guiana, which is now the country of Guyana.

His parents were Frederick and Catherine Marie Antoinette (née July) Abraham. Frederick Henry was the only son of five children. His sisters were: René Marie Hyde (née Abraham) Brebner, Edmée Blanche Émeline (née Abraham) Salmon, Jeanne Lucie Ernestine (née Abraham) Smith Mann (my Grandmother), and Cécile Blanche (née Abraham) Ham. He was my father's uncle.

Grandmother Jeanne had in her possession a letter dated the 30th of November, 1918. The letter is addressed to a Mr. Rénier and was written by a Lt. Col. Compton Smith of the 16th Lancashire Fusiliers. The letter is a letter of condolences to one Mr. Rénier on the death of his nephew, Frederick Henry Abraham. And no one had any idea who was this Mr. Rénier.

After much discussion and research I finally discovered that Mr. Rénier was married to one of my great grandmother Catherine Marie Antoinette's sisters, great-grandaunt Marie Eugénie Berthe (née July) Rénier Clergeau. And that would make Mr. Rénier, the husband of great-grandaunt Marie Eugénie Berthe, my great-grandaunt Marie Eugénie Berthe, my Great-granduncle. I had discovered this marriage from a notation added in the margin of her 1868 Birth Register from Cayenne, French Guiana, known today as Guyanne.

Transcribing great-granduncle Valentin Aimé Rénier's letter I understand a brief but detailed account of granduncle Frederick Henry's passing on the 2nd of October in 1918.

"Dear Monsieur Rénier

Your nephew 2nd Lieut Fred Abraham was killed on October 2nd, just South of JONCOURT, RAMICOURT road about 9.15 am.

The Battalion was attacking RAMICOURT, and your nephew was in command of the left front company (D). This company was checked by machine gun fire from the direction of WAINCOURT, and your nephew very gallantly endeavoured to bring a Lewis gun into position to fire on the hostile machine-gun. He was shot in the head while so doing, and passed away at once without pain.

He is buried just EAST of a sunken road, about 1000 meters EAST of JONCOURT. The cemetery where he lies contains about 130 graves of those who fell on the same day. The cemetery is marked by a cross on a mound, but the actual grave is only marked by a stick with a time disc bearing number 453. This number is, however, registered, and a cross with his name will be put up in due course by the British Graves Registration Commissioners.

I enclose a map on which I have marked by means of arrows the position of his grave, the place where he fell, & the position (approximately) of the machine gun which killed him. I hope this will enable you to identify the localities.

Your nephew was exceedingly popular with both the men & officers of this regiment, and much respected in account of his character & gallantry.

If there is any further assistance that I can give you in any way, I shall be most happy to do so, if you will let me know.

Yours sincerely,
Gd Compton: Smith Lt. Col.
16th Lancashire Fusiliers"

And no one has a copy, that I am aware, of Lt. Col. Smith's map. But today's technology, especially Google Earth, is a tremendous tool which helps in mapping directions and points of interest. And that's just what I did... I took the points as outlined in the letter and was able to find the location were granduncle Frederick Henry was shot by the enemy, and from what direction.

Check out the map. It was constructed with Google Earth and CorelDraw 4... It's a wonder of what we can visualize through today's modern technological innovations. My family history comes alive and at my personal computer I can feel the moments of my granduncle Frederick Henry.



To be continued... Check back.


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