1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Oliver Hopkin

Contributed by: HJ Hopkin, on 2008-11-09

No portrait available
First Name Oliver
Surname Hopkin
Year of Birth 1898
Year of Death 1917
Regiment Suffolk Regiment
Place of Wartime Residence Wilburton, Cambridgeshire

Oliver's Story

Son of Mr and Mrs Harry Hopkin of New Road, Impington. Oliver, who was the oldest of four children, was born on 26 November 1897. At the time of his enlistment, Oliver's father was a farm foreman for Chivers & Son. Oliver had joined up around the time of his 17th birthday. The Cambridge Chronicle of Friday, 27 November 1914 reported that during the week 114 men had enlisted in the Cambridge Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment: Oliver was one of them. His sister had said that most of his friends had joined up at the same time. Remembered by his nephew, who never met him.

Oliver had joined up around the time of his 17th birthday.

Oliver wrote home regularly and in his penultimate letter to his mother, written in early 1917, he made reference to the impending battle at Arras:

"Well I must tell you that he (the enemy) will thin us out a lot again soon as the land gets dry for if we don't push him a long way back this time we shall never win for we seem to have enough guns to blow him off the face of the earth and troops as well. I shall think myself lucky if I come out of this alright for we all think it will be worser than the first of July last year and that was bad enough ... we are going to the trenches in a few days time".

In his last letter home, on the 6th April 1917, Oliver said:

"My dear mother, father, sister and brother ... we are having just the sort of weather as you are at home and it is very bad for us to. It has made the trenches in a very bad state up to our knees in mud and our clothes will never come clean again and we have to take our shirts off every day and do a little piece of shepherding the lice up for we cannot keep the damn things clear from them. Well I must tell you that we will be in up in the thick of it again soon before you get this letter but I don't think we shall get such a cutting up as we did at Albert last year so keep your eye on the paper. I hope please god I ccome through alright this time I will let you know soon."

Oliver was killed before this letter reached his mother. She in turn wrote, one week after her son had been reported missing:

"... we have not heard anything from you for a long time and we see from the papers that there has been a big push".

Sgt W. Gilmore, commander of the 101st Bn, Trench Mortar Battery wrote a letter that wass forwarded to Oliver's parents a few days later:

"These photos and pocket wallet was found by one of my men during the recent operation in a dug-out. The men think they belong to the dead corporal who was in the dug-out. The wallet was on a table ..."

Oliver's body was subsequently lost and he has no known grave. Maybe, one day his body will be found or maybe he already lies in an unspecified CWGC grave under the words "known unto god".

My thanks to Dr A J peacock for this material.

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