Daventry man ready for World War grave pilgrimage
July 31 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Third Battle of Ypres which saw more than half a million First World War soldiers perish.
Martin Fryatt, 65, of The Grange, will attend the ceremony – organised by the Government – along with 4,000 other guests as a result of his grandfather, Arthur Dennis, being wounded in the conflict a century ago in Broodenseinde near Ypres, in Belgium.
But since being invited to attend Mr Fryatt has discovered that his family ties to the war extend to his wounded grandfather’s brother, and three Australian great uncles all buried within miles of each other in the French department of the Somme, 150km from Ypres.
“I’m really looking forward to attending the ceremony,” said Mr Fryatt.
“I’m absolutely staggered that I’ve come across all these other family members I had no idea about.
“To think that I found grandad’s brother who died in the war, and I’m going to be there 100 years to the day when he was buried is quite emotional really.”
Mr Fryatt, a former chauffeur and taxi driver, was prompted to apply to attend the service after hearing about the event late at night on the radio.
After his place was confirmed following a ballot and buoyed by the news, Mr Fryatt began researching his ancestry, discovering that other family members had died in combat on the Western Front.
“Since originally setting out on this quest I have come across a distant cousin, Brian, in Australia and as a result of our collaboration found my great-uncle Charles’ grave in Somme,” said Mr Fryatt.
“When I realised through Brian that I have three great-uncles buried within no more than eight miles of each other I thought I had to take a separate trip to visit their graves.”
Mr Wyatt intends to pay his respects to all great-uncles Horace, Audley and Darcy Dennis, and his grandfather’s brother Arthur by visiting each of their graves to lay wreaths.
First he will spend five days in France visiting the cemeteries before heading to Ypres two weeks later for the commemorative ceremony.
While in mourning attire, Mr Fryatt will wear the three medals awarded to his grandfather Arthur for his service, as well as the silver badge given to him for the injuries he sustained in combat.
He will also display the joint medals received by his parents.