The 5th grave RAMC Sgt William Sharpe


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Jan 14, 2001
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Hi everyone,

During my many visits to Kea I took the time to search all the local cemeteries for the grave of RAMC Sgt. William Sharpe, the only victim of the sinking who was buried on the island (according to the official report). There was no trace of it. Simon Mills had also asked around the island and had found that many locals remembered the grave but no one knew what had happened to it. To make things even more complicated, the file of Sgt. Sharpe in the CWGC database had the information that he was "drowned at sea" and for this reason his name could be found at the Mikra Memorial near Salonica (a memorial dedicated to those "who have no other grave than the sea").

This case had evolved into one of the deepest Britannic mysteries.


It was late November of 2006 when I first came across a Google search result that I was hoping to find since the start of my Britannic research. It was a description of the Commonwealth Cemetery on the Greek island of Syra (now known as Syros).There was the information that one of its several unidentified graves contained the remains of a soldier originally buried on the island of Kea. I immediately felt that this was our man. I passed the information to Simon, who made the necessary contacts with the CWGC and provided all the needed documentation in order to back our case. From that point started the long wait for an official decision from the British Ministry of Defence. During that period we were also able to learn the reason that caused the misindentifiation of the grave.

We now are in the final stages of this two-year effort as we have been informed that a decision will be made quite soon. Keep your fingers crossed. If we are right, the final resting place of Sgt. Sharpe will be finally identified after 93 years....

Best regards,
Michail
 
Jan 14, 2001
227
6
263
The following was posted yesterday on the public forum of the Titanic Historical Society:



"Re: Sergeant William Sharpe RAMC

Post by Simon Mills on Sun Jan 18, 2009 8:25 pm

It's actually taken a little over two years, but I'm pleased to say that it looks as if the investigation into the location of Sergeant William Sharpe's grave is about to reach it's inevitable conclusion.

For several years Michail Michailakis and I have been looking into the mystery of the missing Britannic grave, which was supposedly on Kea but had somehow been lost. The records clearly stated that Sergeant Sharpe was buried on Kea but no one seemed to know what had happened to the grave. Some on the island said that it had fallen in to the sea and others said that it was impossible to make a full search of the records as much of the information had been destroyed during the German occupation. With the original Commonwealth War Graves Commission files also unavailable (having been recycled during WWII), the chances of any resolution seemed unlikely.

The final piece of the jigsaw came towards the end of 2006 when it was discovered that the grave on Kea was moved to the Syra New British Cemetery on the Greek island of Syra (Siros) in 1921, but just when you think that you have everything conveniently in its place, an eighty-seven year old bureaucratic glitch, which had resulted in the original misidentification, means that it has taken a further two years before Sergeant Sharpe's grave could once again be properly identified.

The good news, however, is that as of 31st December 2008, the UK Ministry of Defence has acknowledged that the unmarked grave on Syra is almost certainly that of Sergeant William Sharpe, who died on Kea shortly after Britannic was sunk on 21st November 1916. They have now been put in touch with the Sharpe family and it is hoped that a new headstone will shortly be placed on the grave, bearing both William Sharpe's name and a personal inscription from the Sharpe family.

As such, it would seem that agreement has been reached and the fifth Britannic grave has once again been found. The other four graves are located in Piraeus on the Greek mainland, while the remaining twenty-five casualties, whose bodies were never recovered, are listed on the Mikra memorial at Thessaloniki."


The long wait is over. The result was not determined by luck but by constant research, as the necessary information had always been out there, waiting to be found by someone. During the past few years Simon managed to find 99% of the data. I am happy because in 2006 I was able to find the missing 1% which allowed him to solve this 93-year enigma. It must be said that the CWGC supported this case since our first contacts and gave us all the additional information needed in order to complete the picture. A big "thank you" to Simon for being the man who introduced the Britannic to the people outside of the "Titanic Community" and for sharing his research finds through books, TV-programs and personal contact.

In the future, probably nobody will remember who was responsible for the identification of this grave. But the new headstone will always be there and that means that a trace of our research work -not important how small- will always be a part of the official history of the Great War. It would be unfair to state that Sgt. William Sharpe was ever forgotten, as he is commemorated at the Mikra Memorial at Salonika, but I am really happy that soon there will be "some corner of a foreign field that is forever England" with his name on it.

Best regards,
Michail
 
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