Rifleman Bernard Fielding Varney

Date of Birth c 1894
Age at Death 22
Date of Death 31 August 1917
Service Number 653374
Military Service 21st Battalion London Regiment (Surrey Rifles)
Merton Address 41 Melbourne Road, Merton Park
Local Memorial St. Mary's Church, Merton Park

Additional Information

Born in the Eccleshall area of Sheffield during 1894, Bernard was the son of George and Martha Varney. The couple also had two younger daughters, Grace born in 1899 and Dorothy born in 1903.

The 1901 census showed the family living at 26, Woodstock Road in Eccleshall and Bernard’s father was working as a compositor in a print works – setting the type, or design work to create each printed piece.

By 1911, the Varneys had moved to Merton and were living at 41, Melbourne Road, Merton Park.

16 year old Bernard had now followed in his father’s footsteps and was an apprentice compositor. George Varney was working for a newspaper but Bernard was employed at a general printing works.

We have no record of when Bernard joined up, but he was 19 at the outbreak of war, so is likely to have volunteered soon afterwards. He became a Private in the 21st battalion of the London Regiment, also known as the Surrey Rifles. This unit was formed in August 1915 and after initial training, landed at Le Havre, France, in March 1915.

The battalion fought on the Western Front for the majority of the war. At the time of his death, Bernard was fighting near Ypres. His unit’s position was heavily bombarded and he was killed on 31 August 1917, aged just 22. One of many unidentified casualties of the Ypres Salient, he is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres. His name also appears on a memorial at St. Mary’s church, Merton Park.


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