Bureaucracy and the Formalities of Death
Oxhey during the Great War
This information relating to Oxhey is extracted from the image. The full version is in the attached pdf file.
Private Alfred Henry Brunker Barnard age 39, was killed in action on 20 February 1918 outside the city of Jerusalem. His wife, Mary and his daughter, who was about 12 at the time, lived at 38 Oxhey Avenue. Mary Barnard was one of many widows for whom the formalities surrounding the death of her loved one was a protracted and painful process.
From receiving news of Alfred’s death in February 1918, it was not until 17 October 1924 that she attended the last memorial service in which his name was honoured. In the absence of a body to bury at home, she sought assurance from the Imperial War Graves Commission that Alfred had been buried and later re-interred with due reverence.
She also received official condolences from the King, the Secretary of State for War and Alfred’s last employers, London County Council.
Mary Barnard died on 9 September 1937 and her daughter had Alfred’s name inscribed on the gravestone in Bushey churchyard. On 8 December 1990 she was buried there too.
A sheaf of surviving documents testifies to the correspondence that took place. Mary received seven letters of condolence, including one containing Alfred’s last letter to her two days before he was killed. She attended memorial services in London, in Bushey and in Harrow, where Alfred was born. In 1924 she attended a ceremony unveiling a memorial at County Hall, Westminster.
Thank you to Bushey Museum and Art Gallery for this wonderful project and for allowing us to share it on Our Oxhey.