You might have seen this memorial on the website, and wondered about its relevance to the ‘UK Armenians and WW1’ project.
The memorial is to a young soldier, Haron Baronian. He was a Private in the British Army who was killed in Mesopotamia on 11th April 1917, a month after his 21st birthday. His parents were Armenians. His father, Zareh, had moved from Turkey to England at the end of the nineteenth century and worked in the cotton trade in Manchester. He married, became a naturalised British citizen, set up a financially successful business, and bought a house in a prestigious area of Knutsford.
The First World War broke out in September 1914. In December 1915, Haron, the second son of Zareh Baronian and his wife Shushan, left his studies at Manchester University and joined the British Army. When he was killed on active duty, his wealthy family chose to memorialise him in a very special and unusual way. They commissioned a well-known Royal Academician, Hamo Thornycroft, to create a life sized, portrait sculpture of their son and erected this in the grounds of their house in Knutsford.
During the 1920s, the family fell on hard times. Their large house was sold in the 1930s and the memorial was moved to the grounds of a local country house, Booths Hall. This was meant to be a temporary measure, but the memorial stayed there for over 40 years until it was donated to the Cheshire Health Authority in 1977 by Haron’s sister, Dolly. It was relocated to the grounds of the War Memorial Hospital and, over the years, the identity of the young soldier on the memorial was largely forgotten.
As part of the HLF project, the story of Haron Baronian, his family and the memorial will be recorded as an important legacy of the Armenians in the UK and their involvement in WW1.
(Maria Graham is a UK Armenians & WW1 project contributor who’s been researching the memorial and Haron Baronian’s story)