Bertie Edwards

Service number: 7994 | Rank: Private | Regiment: Norfolk Regiment

Died, September 15, 1916, at Mesopotamia.


Born and enlisted at Brandon.


The Suez canal was strategically vital for Britain, especially in the movement of troops from India and Australia into Europe and so to guard against the canal falling into enemy hands a contingent of British troops were sent to Mesopotamia (Iraq). Bertie was part of that contingent and he was well aware of the dangers of war, having lost his older brother Charles in Flanders the previous year.

In December 1915 and into the early months of 1916 the Turks threatened to take the British and Indian Garrison town of Kut, about 100 miles south of Baghdad, and Bertie as a Private in the Norfolk Regiment was thrown into action, only to be taken prisoner. At around this time Bertie’s parents, Charles and Mary (nee Zipfel), living at 54 Thetford Road, did not receive any more letters from Bertie and for now they had no idea of his whereabouts nor of his welfare. The Turks besieged the town and the siege lasted into late April 1916 before the British and Indian survivors surrendered to the enemy. The survivors did not fare very well in captivity and 70% of the British P.O.W.s died from disease.

Bertie’s parents were officially notified that he had been caught up in the fall of Kut and they desperately set about writing many letters to the military authorities to find some morsel of news, whether it be to give them hope or at least confirm the worst. Only in December 1917 did they receive something, when a Sergeant Watts wrote a postcard to them and explained that their 25 year old son had died in hospital over a year previously whilst a Prisoner of War of the Turks.

This was the second son Mr and Mrs Edwards had lost in the war, the other being their eldest son, Sergeant Charles Edwards, who had died in August 1915.