SHARP BROTHERS DURING THE GREAT WAR
Disentangling some of the details concerning the Sharp family has had its difficulties. Evidence from the Gazette showed H Sharp – RN, & W Sharp – RFA to be “Serving their King & Country” on 6th May 1915. The following week the Gazette said the following members of the Sharp family (miss-spelt with an “e”) were away fighting: F. Sharpe – RN, H Sharpe – RN, W Sharpe - Royal Field Artillery.
A photograph showed Will Sharp to be in Australian uniform – not the Royal Artillery – and John (also in the same photo in naval uniform) would only have been 15 at the outbreak of war, and would still not have reached his 16th birthday by May 1916. However, many young men were known to enlist before their 18th birthdays, and perhaps he enlisted with his elder brother Harry, as they were both in the navy.
From a letter to his sister Alice (who had emigrated to Canada with her husband Len Seabrook in 1912), we know that Will was in this country in May 1917, and visited Leverstock Green, when we think the photograph was taken, and during which brief time he made his presence felt! (See letter) From his Australian embarkation and demombilization records gleaned from http://www.awm.gov.au/find/index.asp we can see he made it back to Australia unscathed in 1919, and indeed went on to have two more children.
The second Gazette entry which quoted an F Sharp I presume to be an error, which should have read J sharp. The Rev Durrant was the Gazette’s correspondet, and his writing was appalling and often illegible in the contemporary documents I have seen. In the flowing copper-plate like script he (tried to) used, a capital J and a capital F would have been very similar, the only difference being a small horizontal line across the J like sqirl, and with his poor writing its easy to understand how the mistake was made. It does, however, look as if John ( or Jack as he was know) had signed up whilst still only 15!!!!
Another Sharp brother was Charles, and he too had emigrated to Australia. We have as yet no confirmation of his war record, but presume the photo shown to have been of him.
The photo of William with his three sons, is further intriguing as Harry is wearing the naval cap with HMS Victory (or possibly Victoria) inscribed upon it. At the time of the first war, Nelson’s flagship (and as she is still commissioned there has been no other of her name since) was a harbour vessel, not being based in dry dock in Portsmouth as today until 1922. If the ship Harry was on was called the Victoria, that too makes little sense, as the last in the line of ships named Victoria, had been sunk in 1883. It is therefore more likely to have been the Victory, but I presume therefore that the sailors based on her were not fully combatant.