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Three neighbours

A Cornish coincidence

Four men, whose paths only crossed at the 1917 Battle of Arras, have a curious connection to Linkinhorne. A Canadian lumberjack cutting wood, an engineer building a wooden bridge and a driver crossing the bridge to deliver ammunition to guns directed by a pilot overhead are all related to three Linkinhorne neighbours.

Credit: Linkinhorne History Group, near Callington, Zena Jones, Peter and Deborah Sharp

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One hundred years ago, men from across the British Empire answered the call to arms and left their homes and families to fight in the First World War.

Among them was a hardware wholesaler’s clerk from Calgary, Canada called Garfield Sharp, a carpenter from east Cornwall called James Couling, a grocer from London called Walter Sharp, and an engineering student from Hayle, west Cornwall, called Arthur Harrison. 

Garfield enlisted as a Lance Corporal in the Canadian Infantry, James as a sapper in the Royal Engineers, Walter as a driver in the Army Service Corps, and Arthur as a private in the Royal Fusiliers.

By 1917, Arthur had received a commission in the Royal Flying Corps and Garfield had been medically downgraded and transferred as a private to the Canadian Forestry Corps.

During April and May of that year, the four men all found themselves in the Scarpe area of the Western Front during the Battle of Arras.

The Siege Batteries of the 34th Brigade of the Royal Garrison Artillery were using heavy calibre howitzers to fire on the German defences. The shells for the guns were supplied by the ammunition column of the 594th Motor Transport Company (Walter). The registration of the guns – the observation of where the shells were falling – was being carried out by FE 2b aircraft of No.11 Army Co-operation Squadron (Arthur). The maintenance of roads and the construction of bridges over rivers to allow the ammunition column’s lorries to bring up the shells – and the artillery piece themselves to be moved forward – was carried out by the 132nd Army Troops Company (James). The raw timber to supply the engineers of 132nd AT Company was felled, cut, and planed, by the 35th Company of the Canadian Forestry Corps (Garfield).

Four separate lives that randomly came together to closely interact in one place at one time in history. They all survived the war and their paths never crossed again. So, what is the relevance of this story to Linkinhorne Parish, one hundred years later? 

Walter’s grandson (whose great-uncle was Garfield) met and married Arthur’s daughter.  They now live as the friends and next door neighbours of James’ granddaughter in Rilla Mill, their lives having also randomly come together to interact in another place and time in history.     

Credit: Linkinhorne History Group nr Callington, Zena Jones, Peter and Deborah Sharp