Company Quarter Master Sergeant Gerald Bertram Hindson Farren,
East Surrey Regiment,
Died from influenza at Parkgate, Petersham, 4 November 1918.
Gerald Hindson Farren and his brother, Montague, are both commemorated on this memorial and are the only ones listed on it who happen to be buried in this churchyard. Both died at home, and ‘home’ for them was Parkgate, a house which overlooks St Peter’s Churchyard. They were two of four brothers, three of whom served with one of the Expeditionary Forces.
Gerald was the first of the two to die, on 4 November 1918, exactly a week before Armistice Day, during that dreadful fortnight—the last week of October and the first of November—in which Richmond felt the full fury of the influenza epidemic.
Gerald and Montague Hindson Farren were the younger sons of Henry Farren, the actor, and of Mary Ann Ashmore. All four sons were given the middle name Hindson but its significance is cause for speculation. Without a budget for this research, it cannot be a priority to order what seems the only likely marriage registration for Henry and Mary Ann, but it would be interesting to learn the name of Henry’s father and to follow up whether Henry was a member of the Farren acting dynasty.
Gerald had been one of the very first Petersham men to sign up after the outbreak of war, enlisting in the East Surrey Regiment on 13 August 1914 at the age of 27. He gave his occupation as “Etcher” and he appears to be the only of Henry’s children to have followed their father into a profession in the ‘creative’ arts.
Gerald rose rapidly through the ranks—a Lance Corporal within two months, he was a Company Quarter Master Sergeant just over a year later. His military service included two spells in France, where he received a serious wound to his chest and shoulder as the result of a grenade. In the months preceding his death, he had been stationed at Kingston Barracks. It is not known whether that was as a result of his injury, or in the hope, on compassionate grounds that he might be the “familiar person” whose presence would assist Montague’s recovery.
Gerald Farren was buried with full military honours on 12 November 1918, the day after the Armistice.
With peace, came what Cynthia Asquith described in her diary as the recognition that “the dead are not only dead for the duration of the war”. This must have been particularly so for a parish in which so many households lost a loved one and the effect of their grief was evident. The Parish Burial Register records, for the last three months of 1918, the burials of Elizabeth Figg (aunt of Harold Figg); Edward Wheeler (father of Ernest Wheeler); Gerald; the burial of the ashes of Susan Tollemache (mother of Arthur Tollemache) and the burial of John Henry Master (grandfather of Roger Hunt, who was born in Petersham, at Montrose House but is not recorded on the Parish War Memorial). The second burial on the following page is that of Montague, Gerald’s brother, recorded immediately before the burial of Jane Dulley (Sidney Wilson’s foster mother) while the next page records the burial of Hermon Herbert Figg (Harold’s father).