The "Thiepval Project" aims to collect as much information as possible about the missing soldiers of the Battle of the Somme (1 July-18 November 1916), the fallen soldiers whose remains were never found or identified. Between 2003 and 2012, Pam and Ken Linge succeeded in compiling more than 8,800 records. Here are the stories of three of the 72,200 missing soldiers of Thiepval.

Jacob Templar was born in Humberstone Village (Leicestershire). He was thirty years old and had three sons, between the ages of two and nine years, when he was reported missing on July 17th, 1916. A soldier of the 6th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment, he volunteered for service on August 27th, 1914 abandoning his blue-collar job. He left the UK for France on July 29th, 1915. His brother, George Templar, who belonged to the same battalion, was killed in action three days earlier, on July 14th, 1916. He was 24 years old. It was not uncommon, during the First World War, to read stories like this, where several members of the same family died in the same battle.

Thomas Michael Kettle was reported missing on September 9th, 1916 at the age of 36 ans. He was a lieutenant of the 9th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers. This Irishman, who had one daughter, was a lawyer. He was elected MP in 1909 and in 1909, he was employed as Professor of Economics at the National University of Ireland. In August and September of 1914 he worked as a war correspondent for the « Daily News », after which he was sent to the Somme on July 14th, 1916. He died leading his men to Ginchy. He also wrote several war poems.

William Ker was 24 years old when he was reported missing on November 13th, 1916. Of Scottish origin, he served as a lieutenant in the Hawke Battalion, Royal Naval Division. As a student at Rugby and at Balliol College in Oxford, he played for the national hockey team on several occasions. In June 1915, he was on the frontline at Gallipoli (Turkey) before travelling to France in April 1916. He died during the attack on Beaucourt-sur-Ancre. The author Sir Alan Patrick Herbert in 1917 wrote the poem "Beaucourt Revisited", in which he refers to William Ker.
These three stories show that the Great War affected the lives of men of all classes in society, killing them indiscriminately, whether they were workers, politicians or top athletes.

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  • Portrait of Jacob Templar, first quarter of the 20th century, photo, coll. Linge © P&K Linge

  • Portrait of Thomas Michael Kettle, first quarter of the 20th century, photo, coll. Linge © P&K Linge

  • Portrait of William Ker, first quarter of the 20th century, photo, coll. Linge © P&K Linge

portrait of Jacob Templarportrait of Thomas Michael Kettleportrait of William Ker