Honour for Doncaster war hero 99 years on

Albert Venus, soldier killed in World War One, who has been commemorated 99 years on.
Albert Venus, soldier killed in World War One, who has been commemorated 99 years on.

A Doncaster World War One hero is finally to be honoured – 99 years after he was killed in Belgium.

Gunner Albert Venus from Thorne was killed near Ypres in 1915 – but his contribution and sacrifice have never been remembered properly.

But thanks to the detective skills of a former Doncaster headteacher, Albert’s name will be recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, with his name set to be inscribed on the Menin Gate, in Ypres.

The error came to light when former Thorne Grammar School head Tony Brookes was researching names on the war memorial in the town and found ‘Venus A’.

A search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website revealed no suitable matches but the next name ‘Venus H’ was easy to find.

Herbert, Albert’s brother, was killed in action on HMS Black Prince during the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.

Albert, born in Hull, moved to Finkle Street in Thorne with his parents – and that was enough for Mr Brookes to delve further.

His investigations took him to Doncaster Local History Library where a letter in a Doncaster paper from a Driver Dyson, a former Thorne keel boat man, reported that ‘Venus’ had been killed by a shell ‘whilst attached to the same gun as me’ on Whit Monday 1915. He eventually tracked down the war diary for Albert’s gun battery at Kew and the entry for May 24, 1915 read: “A shell striking the right wheel of No. 1 gun killed Cpl. T.A. Carr, Gr. J.W. Clarke, Gr. G. Robinson, Gr. J. Rowbottom and Gr. A.W. Venus.”

Armed with this evidence Tony approached the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in November 2011 to ask that Albert Venus be commemorated – but the Commission demanded a death certificate. A search was unsuccessful but eventually in March 2012 the CWGC agreed to put Albert’s case to the Ministry of Defence which had the final say on whether a casualty could be commemorated. Finally, earlier this month, Mr Brookes received a letter which said: “As it is quite clear that Gunner Albert William Venus died whilst a serving Gunner in the Royal Field Artillery, he qualifies for commemoration by the CWGC.”

Albert was sent to Belgium on April 20, 1915. His service lasted little over a month before his death in the Battle of Bellewarde Ridge. Mr Brookes said: “His name now appears on the CWGC website and in time it will be rightly engraved on the Menin Gate Memorial along with those of his four comrades.”