Norwich – Earlham Cemetery (Marsham Elvin Wrench)

This is the war grave of Private Marsham Elwin Wrench, located in the older military cemetery within Earlham Cemetery. Unfortunately, the age of this soldier are wrong, he died at the age of 48 and not 42. Marsham was born in Kensington on 13 November 1872, the son of Marsham and Margaret Wrench.

At the 1881 census, the family lived at 43 Monteith Road in Bow where the older Marsham was working as a general dealer. Marsham the younger was the only boy in the family, living with his older sister Susan and his younger sisters Mary, Alice and Maud. As an aside, Martha Elizabeth Land lived in this house during the Second World War and she was one of 173 people killed at Bethnal Green underground station when people fell down the stairs and died in the crush that ensued.

At the 1891 census, Marsham was 18 years old and he had decided to join the army, where he was listed as being a gunner living at the Woolwich Barracks. He doesn’t appear in the 1901 census, so was likely serving somewhere else in the army. He had by this time got married, hence his move to Norwich, although he had been widowed by the time of the First World War. Fortunately, the war records have survived, which means there’s a story of his expeditions around the world.

Marsham joined the army in Woolwich on 11 December 1886 at the age of just 14, with his trade being listed as a musician. He signed up for the Royal Artillery, agreed to serve for 12 years and was happy to be vaccinated. He was just 4’6″ tall, weighed 5.8 stone, had brown hair and declared himself as a member of the Church of England.

Marsham was disabled with haemoptysis in June 1911 in Karachi in what was then India, but is now in Pakistan. He was moved to a hospital in Bombay before returning to England. He rejoined the army reserve on 20 August 1914 as part of the Norfolk Regiment, briefly going to serve in France. On 11 November 1914, a medical report though declared that he was unfit for service, his usual weight of 12 stone 5 lbs had fallen to 9 stone 10 lbs and he had a frequent cough.

Marsham died on 20 April 1920, and by nature of him having a war grave, he would have died of injuries incurred in the war, although I’m not sure what they were or where he went.