There is a post script to this story, firstly, during my research, I discovered that there was indeed someone still living who had known Sam, one of his sisters-in-law, who I had never heard of. She was the wife of his brother Frederick who is mentioned in the Reports page. I met Mabel in 1987 and she kindly gave me a postcard Sam had sent to her after his promotion to sergeant (the one which mentions a sausage!). She died a year later aged 91.
Secondly, and this seems to me to be an astonishing coincidence, I was attending a meeting of a military collectors society in Peterborough one night when a dealer, and non-member, who had no idea who I was and knew nothing of my great uncle, brought a few items in to sell. He showed a number of people including me an old Queen Mary cigarette box, the type given to troops by her for Christmas 1914. He told us he had bought it from someone who’s father had taken it and its contents from his dead friend during the First World War. Inside was a small piece of shrapnel, a 1915 halfpenny which had been badly dented by a bullet and a report cut out from an old newspaper entitled: “DIED A SOLDIERS DEATH.”
I have no explanation for what happened that night, I had said nothing to the dealer beforehand, my name isn’t even Yerrell, but since I bought these items (for £5.00), I do feel that part of Sam has finally come home.