Maurice Barber 26 November 1917

Just four days after the death of Guy Roberts, Maurice Barber, another son of Yorkshire, also in Grafton, perished in the same battle outside the French city of Cambrai. In another tragic coincidence, Maurice Barber came from the same Yorkshire village as Cedric Jackson, another Graftonian, who had been killed in a flying accident off Dover just three weeks earlier. Late 1917 was a bad time for Grafton House – five boys were killed in just over five weeks between 5th November and 15th December.

After Oundle, Maurice Barber went to the Continent, spending time in Tours and Lausanne to see more of the world and to learn French. Returning to Sheffield, he joined an engineering company and then joined up to ‘do his bit’ in September 1914. He did not reach France in a military capacity however, until January 1917. He was Captain and Adjutant in the York and Lancaster Regiment when he was killed at Cambrai four days after his friend and exact contemporary, Guy Roberts. He too was 25 years old at the time of his death and had lived just two weeks longer than his Yorkshire compatriot. However, while Guy Roberts’ body was found and buried, Maurice Barber’s body was not and his name is now among some 7,000 listed as ‘missing’ on the Cambrai Memorial.

Maurice Barber’s Commanding Officer wrote: “I have lost a friend, but I am glad that I was privileged to know such a gallant, modest gentleman as he was, and I shall never forget him.”

The regimental chaplain commented: “Always quiet and somewhat reserved – always working hard and spending himself for the welfare of his battalion…he was what I like to think a typical British gentleman should be.”

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow