Sergeant Samuel Yerrell was my Great Uncle, he was one of five sons, another, John, would die at Neuve Chapelle before the First World War ended. The following letter was written on 20th July 1916 and sent to Sam's mother by his friend, Jim Henson, also a Sergeant from Peterborough serving in the 1st Northamptonshire Regiment with Sam:
"Poor Sam has been killed this morning. I have been up to his company and found out all about it. Tonight I am going to see him buried respectably. First off he had both arms shattered by a bomb, and as a fellow was bringing him towards our trench they fell exhausted. Then a Second Lieutenant jumped out of our trench and went to help them, as soon as he got to Sam a German fired at them, the bullet passing through Sam's back and right through the officer's heart. The officer was killed instantly, and poor Sam died an hour later before I could get to him. He died a soldier's death. The brave officer who got killed trying to save Sammy was Lieut. Eminton*."
* Jim got one vital piece of information wrong, his original letter names the officer as being a Lieutenant Eminton, but after extensive investigation I have discovered that in fact this was an officer from the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, attached to the Machine Gun Corps by the name of Second Lieutenant Robert Astley Franklin Eminson.
Sam has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme. Second Lieutenant Eminson does have a grave and is buried in Becourt Military Cemetery, Becordel-Becourt.
Sam was an ‘Old Contemptible,’ meaning he was a Regular soldier before the outbreak of the First World War and was sent across to France with his battalion to fight as soon as war broke out. Through this web site I hope to bring him to the attention of the world as an ordinary soldier but, as with all other soldiers, show that he was an individual, with his own life, hopes and with friends and family at home who loved him dearly.