20.40 – Edmund, Harold, Albert, Sarah Hannah, Abraham and Mary Farrar

Albert Farrar is remembered on this headstone, although he is actually buried in Bertrancourt, France. Buried in this plot are Albert’s parents (Abraham and Sarah Hannah), and three of his siblings : Mary Hannah, Edmund and Harold. Albert was a signaller in the army, before this he was the manager of the Strand Drapery Department of the Todmorden Co-operative Society. He was married to Bertha Mary (Sutcliffe), and they had two children called David William and Harry. More on Albert at the end.

Abraham Farrar, a cotton manufacturer, married Sarah Hannah Greenwood in March 1877. Abraham was running a business out of Vale Mill on Stansfield Road which employed 23 men in 1881, not too bad for a small-scale spinner. Unfortunately for Abraham, his success here was short-lived; in July 1882 his partnership with Samuel Crossley Farrar was dissolved, and by November 1882 Abraham had been declared bankrupt with liabilities of £1066 (equivalent to £105k today) and 80 power looms in his possession were being auctioned to satisfy his creditors.

Abraham bounced back, in 1891 as a “warehouseman” and 1901 as a “manager of cotton mill”, but he was making money “on own account” no more.

His sons Edmund and Harold died in 1896 and 1898, and after that their family was safe from heartbreak until Albert became yet another young man cut down during WW1, and right near the very end as well.

Todmorden & District News – Friday 23 August 1918

Signaller Albert Farrar.

We Regret to record the death of Signaller Albert Farrar, of 6, Brook Street, who was killed whilst in his billet on the morning of the 14th inst. Deceased, who was in The R.F.A., was a well known and popular young man of 36 years, and up to December 13, 1917 (when he commenced business on his own account at Brook Street), he was manager of the Strand Drapery Department of the Todmorden Co-operative Society. He was a regular attender at Patmos Congregational Church, where he had been a deacon. He joined up on January 15, and had only been in France ten weeks. The widow received the sad intimation on Sunday morning, and the shock was all the greater inasmuch as on the previous day she had had two letters from her husband stating that he was in the best of health. The deepest sympathy is felt for Mrs, Farrar and the two young children.

The sad news was communicated in the two following letters, both dated August 14 : ‘Dear Mrs. Farrar, – It is my very painful duty to write and inform you that your husband was killed by a shell which fell in the yard near his billet. It may be some small consolation for you to know that he died instananeously, and, I am sure, felt no pain-in fact, knew nothing, as it was all over in half a second. He only joined my section six weeks ago today, and he had already won the goodwill and friendship of all with whom he came in contact. He was a most willing worker, and died as he had lived amongst us, doing his duty manfully and bravely. We all feel his loss keenly, and he will be missed amongst the signalling section very much indeed. He was buried this afternoon by a padre of his own church in a little military cemetery near the village. He had a good funeral, and was buried, of course with military honours. I express the feelings of the whole battery when I offer you our deepest and sincerest sympathy in your great bereavement, and hope that you will realise that he died doing his best for the greatest cause in the world. Though the loss is hard to bear, try and remember that it was willed by a greater Power than us, and His will and judgment, though mysterious, are for the best. Accept once again our sympathies. – Yours very sincerely, T. W. Garret, 2nd Lieut.

‘Dear Mrs. Farrar, – “I am very sorry to tell you your husband was struck this morning by a shell. He passed away in less than five minutes. Everything was done to bring him round, but he caught the full shock and died as stated. Please accept our sympathy in your sad loss. Though only with us a short time, he was well liked by his comrades. Only about an hour before he gave your address and told me to call and see you when I came on leave to my sister’s at Hebden Bridge. He was then in very good health and spirits. We had had some very nice times together since he joined us. We have laid him in a British cemetery this afternoon. He had a very nice burial. I expect to be on leave in a few days if I am spared, but, you know, we never know here who will be the next. I have just been to see his grave, and feel that I have lost a good pal. He rests alongside some Lancashire Fusiliers. If I get me leave I will tell you all about it. – Yours sincerely, Gunner W. Marsden, Huddersfield.’

Army records remain that show the painful process Albert’s wife Bertha went through to try and get hold of his belongings after his death; ultimately she received his belongings as well as a medal, but they were likely cold comfort.

Letter from Bertha Farrar to the Army, dated September 20th 1918

Abraham and Sarah Hannah outlived all but two of their five childen; William died in 1942 in Leeds and Mary in 1948 in Todmorden.

One of our group members visited Albert’s stone at the Somme and took a photo for us.

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  1. Pingback:12.10 – Sarah and Doris Grindrod – F.O.C.C.T.

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