I heard about the participation of my family in WW1 from three different sources:
My father, Krikor Parsegh Gulbenkian, who was living in Smyrna, Turkey and was aged 12 when WW1 started in 1914. Although he was reluctant to talk to me about this period of his life because of the horrors that the Armenians in Turkey suffered from 1915 onwards, he used to say that one of the “close relatives” of his family was killed during the Armenian Genocide. He would not identify this relative but I have recently come across a photograph of his family at the time (his parents, his brother, his sister and himself with another male person who, I believe, was the “close relative” whom my father used to refer to). Eventually, in 1920, he and his immediate family fled Smyrna by boat during what is often described as “The Fire of Smyrna” and, after about a year, finished up in London where he was offered employment by his distant cousin, my grandfather, Nerses Gulbenkian (the father of my mother).
My mother, Vergine Gulbenkian, who was born in London shortly after the end of WW1 but whose father was living and working in London during the War. She told me that her father used to inform her of what he described as the “Massacres” of the Armenians in Turkey and the circumstances in which he had invited my father and his family to come to London.
An article sent to me by CAIA about Nerses’s uncle, Gullabi Gulbenkian, which mentions Gullabi’s nephew (the son of his brother Garabedian Gulbenkian), Krikor Serope Gulbenkian, who was born in London and was enlisted by the British Army on the outbreak of War in 1914. He joined the Middlesex Regiment as a first class Signaller. After being recommended for a commission in February 2017, Krikor trained as an officer in the U.K. before returning to the Western Front as a second Lieutenant on 1 September 1917. His death came just nineteen days later, on 20 September 1917, in the Third Battle of Ypres, while serving with the 23rd (Service) Battalion as a second Lieutenant of the Middlesex Regiment.
Paul Gulbenkian is one of the UK Armenians & WW1 project contributors, who’s been interviewed and filmed for our archive. Photograph by Sophie Mutavelian