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Barnett Griew "Barney"

30 Sivan 5676 (01 July 1916)

Basic Information

Unique reference:


Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Mile End, London


Date of death:
30 Sivan 5676 (01 July 1916)
Died in combat?:
Place of death:
Somme, France
Cause of death:
Killed in action
Burial place:
Memorial: Theipval Pier and Face 9 D



Parents' home:
36 Charles Square Shoreditch, London (1901)
Parents' home:
278 Amhurst Road London (1911)
171 Amhurst Road London
 < Close personal journey map
Personal Journey map
Barnett Griew

Written by Anthony Griew, Great Nephew, 21 September 2013

Family legend
I never met Barnett, my grandparents’ second son (between Arthur and he were two children who died very young), born in 1897. He was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1st 1916. We have records of his service up to that date, including a letter written by him on June 30th, with drawings of colleagues and a note at the bottom from a fellow soldier “best pal I ever had”, so clearly he was a likeable guy. His body was not found, so one guesses that he was perhaps blown to bits by a shell, a quick death at least. He was in the 1st London Rifles and his name is included on the wall at Thiepval. I have a picture of a Griew marriage in 1900 in which he sits on the ground at the front, with Arthur. He looks about 4 or 5 years old, so maybe the wedding was a bit later than we have been told.
When I find my copies of the letters Barny wrote from France in 1916 I’ll transcribe them to this story, or to a second one.

http://www.centenarynews.com/article/changing-the-landscape---artists-personal-quest-for-great-uncle-killed-on-the-somme, 01 September 2016

Family legend
Griew, who came from a family of Jewish furniture makers in Hackney, east London, wrote home several times a day, providing revealing glimpses of a soldier's life at the front in the build-up to the Battle of the Somme.

In May 1916, he noted: "I am quite happy with my scout job. To tell the truth I almost feel safer in front of than directly behind the trenches. I maintain that if a man gets hit it's either his own fault or destiny".

But as Sarah Kogan explains, her 20-year-old great uncle was an eloquent writer who expressed differing reflections in his letters to three members of the family.

"To my grandmother, he sent most of the photographs and the postcards. To his brother, Isaac, he confided in what was really happening. He always asks 'how much shall I tell mother and father, shall I tell them I'm about to go into battle?' Because of that he reveals everything that is going on," Kogan told Centenary News.

"He has this very strong sense of legacy. He kept everything that he was given and sent it home."Poignantly Barney's letters end on June 30th 1916, the eve of the Battle of the Somme.

"As usual doing nothing, he tells Isaac.

"We are moving about…I may not be able to write frequently in the near future. Will do my best though."

Barney was among more than 19,000 British soldiers killed at the start of the Somme offensive on July 1st 1916, the bloodiest day in British military history.

The Griew family's appeals for information about his fate are recorded in displays of press cuttings, together with a letter from the German authorities informing Solomon Griew that they weren't holding his son.

Barney Griew is among the 72,000 names of the missing remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, the setting for this year's UK/French commemorations on Juy 1st marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

Sarah Kogan's exhibition, presented as part of The National Archives First World War 100 programme



Isaac Griew (male)
Harry Griew (male)
Fanny Griew (female)
Joseph Griew (male)
Maurice Griew (male)
Alice Griew (female)
David Griew (male)


Father: Solomon Griew (male)
Parent: Rebecca

Military Record

Military record no.:
300863 & 1398
Date discharged/death:
01 July 1916
Rank at discharge/death:
London Regiment
The opening day of the Battle of the Somme 1st July 1916
This was a disastrous day for the British Army in France. Eleven divisions of Fourth Army attacked along a 15 mile front from Maricourt to Serre. Two further divisions of Third Army launched a diversionary attack just to the north of Serre at Gommecourt. For a week beforehand the British artillery pounded the German trenches but the Germans had been there for a long time and they had constructed deep, concrete reinforced shelters beneath their trenches and many survived the bombardment. The troops went over the top at 7.30 am but even before they had left their overcrowded trenches, many had been killed or maimed by German artillery. The Germans knew that they were coming. Once in No-Man’s-Land the artillery continued to take its toll and then the machine guns opened up on the advancing British infantry. They fell in their thousands and the attack came to a standstill almost everywhere. Survivors sought cover wherever they could find it and at night they crawled back to their own lines, often dragging a wounded soldier with them. Only in the south were any advances made with the attack on Fricourt and Mametz. Over 19,000 British soldiers were killed on this day, including 2,500 from London.

Roll of Honour

B. GRIEW, 01 July 1916

Commonwealth Graves Commission

Date of Death:
Regiment / service:
1st/5th Bn., London Regiment (London Rifle Brigade)
Grave reference:
Pier and Face 9 D.
Additional information:


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London Jews in the First World War - We Were There Too

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