The Barcham Family

The Barcham Family in Wartime

The first half of the 20th century was dominated by two world wars, separated by only 20 years. Two whole generations were affected by war, and scarcely any family remained unscathed. The loss of life in World War I was on a scale unknown hitherto, and the Barcham family, like many others, suffered tragedy, disability and hardship.

Arthur Valentine Fuller (1889-1971) and his brothers Benjamin Barcham Fuller (1896-1918) and Alfred Reginald Fuller (1898-1987) were sons of Anna Maria (née Pointer) and Alfred Barcham Fuller, of Bayfield, Norfolk. Arthur and Benjamin enlisted in the Royal Suffolk Regiment. Benjamin, a private aged 22, was killed in action on 11 August 1918,  and was buried at the war cemetery at Levantine, Pas de Calais. His name is inscribed on the war memorial at St Andrew Ilketshall, Suffolk. Alfred served in the Royal Naval Division and was wounded at Passchendaele in October 1917.

Frank Barcham (1892-1916) was the son of Ellen Jane (née Thirtle) and Robert Barcham, and grandson of Louisa (née Fuller) and Robert Barcham of Paston. Frank, a private in the Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action on 26 July 1916, aged 23, and his name is engraved on the Thiepval memorial, which lists more than 72,000 from the Somme battles who have no known grave.

Frank George Barcham, son of Elizabeth and Samuel Barcham of Catfield, and Herbert John Dudley Barcham, son of Elizabeth and Herbert Samuel Barcham of Knapton, joined the 214th (Saskatchewan) Battalion. Four divisions made up Canada’s military contribution to World War I. Their finest hour came when they captured Vimy Ridge on Easter Monday, 1917. The French had thrown 20 divisions against the ridge in three massive attacks that failed at the cost of 150,000 casualties, The British had no better success. The Canadian Corps, fighting together for the first time, did the job in less than eight hours under the command of Major-General Julian Byng, a veteran of the Boer War. This was the first major Allied victory in the Great War.

Joan Constance Rowberry (McVicar), and her brother Geoffrey, grandchildren of Robert William Barcham and Constance Eliza De La Mare, served in World War II. Joan was working as an observer in the Kelburn Meteorological Office in Wellington, New Zealand, when it was taken over by the NZ Air Force in 1941. Joan was one of three women in the Meteorological Office chosen to join 20 WAAFs being sent to Fiji. Her story is in Bee Dawson's book Spreading their Wings. Joan's brother, Pilot Officer Geoffrey Warren Rowberry, was in 75 NZ squadron with the RAF in Britain. He was killed on 14 March 1944, aged 24 years. His name is inscribed on Panel 263 of the Air Forces Memorial at Runnymede. The operation is described in For Your Tomorrow, by W. Martyn: 'On the night of March 14, 1944, 35 aircraft took off at 2150 hours to lay mines off the French channel ports, beach area (St Nazaire). Stirling bomber No. 111 [Geoffrey Rowberry's] was lost without a trace. This was his 12th operation'.

The service records of some Barchams are recorded in The Barchams of Edingthorpe. Others are listed here: 1600–1900, 1914–1918, and 1939–2000.

PO Geoffrey Rowberry