Great War heroes honoured back home

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Great War heroes
honoured back home


Ambrose Carter MM, one of over a hundred war heroes honoured at town hall receptions. Most were photographed in formal studio settings but ambulance driver Private Carter is shown on active duty

An initiative by the then Constable of St Helier, John Edwin Pinel led to the honouring of Jersey's Great War heroes who had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, Military Medal, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force equivalents, or French and Belgian decorations, at Town Hall ceremonies. The men were given a certificate and a gold watch, paid for by public subscription, in recognition of their bravery. These ceremonies, which started in October 1916 and continued throughout the war, and after it ended, are recorded in a scrapbook of newspaper cuttings, now in the care of Jersey Archive. [1]


Although St Helier Constable John Pinel took on the work of organising Town Hall receptions for returning Jersey servicemen who had been awarded bravery medals, the initiative came from the island's daily newspaper, the Evening Post, motivated by letters to the editor from readers who wanted to know why Jersey was doing nothing to recognise the bravery of its heroes two years into the war, when communities throughout the United Kingdom had established procedures for welcoming their men back home on leave.

On 16 October 1916 the newspaper reported that 'a representative of this journal, late last evening, had an interview with the Constable of St Helier, to whom he made certain suggestions regarding a scheme whereby all Jerseymen who win, or have won, any decoration during the present war will have an official reception at the Town Hall and be made the recipient of a tangible token of the admiration of his fellow islanders. With these suggestions, the Constable expressed his hearty agreement and we are in the happy position of being able to announce that a start is to be imediately made to give effect to the scheme'.

Heroes Fund

Looking back, it may seem strange that the scheme, which would be financed by public subscriptions to the 'Heroes Fund', was a St Helier parish affair rather than being administered and funded by the States. By no means all the decorated servicemen were from the town parish, but, on the other hand, St Helier undeniably had the only public hall large enough to accommodate the anticipated size of each gathering.'

What is also strange is that it appears from the scrapbook kept of press reports that the receptions were only held to honour non-commissioned officers and other ranks. A few recipients had become commissioned officers by the time they returned to the island and could be invited to attend a Town Hall function, but Army officers who were awarded the Military Cross, and the equivalent Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross, for the Navy and RAF, respectively, do not appear to have been honoured in the same way in Jersey.

The presentations all followed a similar pattern and attracted large audiences. The Constable was accompanied by members of the Town Hall staff and often welcomed the Lieut-Governor, Sir Alexander Nelson Rochfort, to the early functions. He was followed by Sir Alexander Wilson, also a keen supporter of the scheme. The Constable and the Lieut-Governors frequently made speeches urging those young Jerseymen who had not yet signed on not to delay in playing their part in the war effort. These entreaties were usually echoed in short speeches by those being honoured at the presentations.

Sources of information

The captions below are taken partly from the newspaper reports in the scrapbook, and partly from Jerripedia's own research into the Great War Roll of Honour and Roll of Service. In some cases there are discrepancies between these records and the newspaper reports, which give little or no details about the recipients' families. Most give no indication about whether the servicemen were accompanied to the Town Hall by their parents or other family members. In most cases we have been able to establish who their parents were, and many have been linked to our family trees.

We only have space here for brief details of each of the men honoured, but a full account of each presentation is included in the scrapbook, which can be viewed by subscribers to the Jersey Archive online catalogue - JA reference F/D/AA1/1

Leading seaman J F Beauchamp


The first to be invited to the Town Hall, immediately after the inception of the scheme, was Leading Seaman John Beauchamp, RN, [2]the first Jerseyman to be awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, and, at the time, one of only three sailors to be awarded a bar to the decoration.

Contemporary reports showed that the first medal was awarded to him when he was serving in the Persian Gulf with a Naval brigade. 'Seeing the plight of a wounded man, a corporal of the Dorsets, who was lying helpless in the danger zone, he went to his rescue and after six hours patient work, and under a fierce fire from the enemy's lines, succeeded in bringing the man in'.

He was presented with the DSM in Bombay. A few months later he was co-operating with the Army in an attack on a fort held by the Turks, when the officer commanding called for a volunteer to blow up the gate leading to the fortress. Beauchamp promptly volunteered and 'a few minutes later he was running across 250 yards of open and fire-swept ground armed with a charge, which consisted of 35lb of gun-cotton. This he was successful in placing in position and, after applying a patch to the time fuse, he made a dash back to his own lines, and was slightly wounded during the perilous journey.'

On his way back to Jersey on leave he visited the home of the soldier he rescued during the first incident, who was by then invalided out of the Army, and received the thanks of his mother and sister.

Notes and references

  1. Subscribers to the Archive's online catalogue can view the scrapbook - JA reference F/D/AA1/1
  2. There is some doubt about the identity of the 'Leading Seaman J F Beauchamp' mentioned in the Evening Post report . We can find no record of a serviceman of this name. There is a Petty Officer John Beaucamp shown in the 1914-1918 Roll of Service, but his entry makes no mention of the award of the DSM and bar. If he was John Beaucamp, he could have been the son of Charles Joseph and Mary Louisa, nee Earl, born in St Helier in 1879, but he was baptised John, with no second given name. However, the situation is further complicated by his having been named W Beauchamp in a report published before the Town Hall reception
  3. Not Penny, as wrongly recorded by the Evening Post in 1916
  4. It has not been possible positively to identify William Parker's ancestry but it is believed that he may have been the son of William Henry Parker, of Grouville, and his first wife Ellen Charity Pooley. The uncertainty has been compounded by the inclusion of two extra cuttings in the section of the scrapbook devoted to William Parker. There is a report of his death in hospital in Cairo being announced, followed a day later by a telegram of apology to his wife cancelling 'previous reports concerning illness and death of Capt A W Parker, RFA'. The headline to the follow-up announcement describes him as Capt A M Parker. We believe that Captain A W Parker and QMS William Parker were the same person, because the career details given in the cutting announcing his death match closely with those from the Town Hall presentation, but no names were given for his parents, his wife or his young son
  5. An Evening Post report at the time rather prosaically gave the reason for his award as 'some good work he did before Guillemont'
  6. Name shown in marriage record as Frosie; Frazai in 1881 census return
  7. Like his elder brother John, William's name was mis-spelt in official records and the report of his Town Hall reception as Penny
  8. Wrongly described in the Evening Post report of his brother's Town Hall reception as 'killed in action'
  9. There is a discrepancy between the report of the Town Hall presentation and the Roll of Service created in the 21st century. That shows the medals won by RSM Hacquoil as the OBE and DSC, a Navy award. We have so far been unable to determine which record is correct
  10. Whether Hedley Michel was illegitimate is uncertain but his mother appears to have taken him to Canada before the 1901 census, in which neither of them appear
  11. Shown in the newspaper report as Elias C Monet. Baptised Elias Edwin, married as Elias Charles
  12. No relation to the famous French painter, but a distant cousin of Jerripedia editor, Mike Bisson, who explains why in the Monet family page
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