It begins with a picture, posted by a stranger on Flickr…
The online search is slow at first. Lots of dead ends, searches that result in information on other Dearlove casualties, but not A. Dearlove.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission reveals that he was buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery, and that he served in the East Surrey Regiment, 2nd Battalion. The site also has information on 21 other Dearloves who died in World War 1, including Albert Shirley Dearlove, a bandsman with the King’s Regiment. Of the 22 Dearlove casualties, none are officers. We’re a humble lot.
A. Dearlove still doesn’t have a first name, and I don’t know how old he was when he died. These two things feel important to me.
More searching brings me to this website, which promises to show me more details on A. Dearlove in exchange for £5.00. I can’t resist – I quickly register, provide my credit card details, and hit view…
A. Dearlove was Albert Dearlove. He was born in Fulham, Middlesex. He was killed in action. That’s it.
I turn to Wikipedia, wondering what happened on April 25, 1915, the day Albert Dearlove died. He met his end on the fourth day of the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium. Albert’s battalion was on the front line, the 1st Canadian Division holding the line to his left. Three days before his death, he would have witnessed the first use of mustard gas on the Western Front. He died on the second day of the Battle of Saint Julien, probably the victim of a German artillery shell.
My search for more information on Albert Dearlove has not been successful. I can find no birth record, so I don’t know how old he was. I don’t know who his parents were, whether he had brothers or sisters, or whether we are linked by anything other than a last name. All I know is that he died far from home, far from his family, surrounded by horrific events.
Albert Dearlove was one of 885,138 British soldiers who died in World War I.