Thorne Brothers Lost and Found

Albert Venus’ coffin being carried into Ypres Town Cemetery Extension in 2016. Photograph by Tony Brookes.


Many Thorne families sent more than one son to fight in the Great War. Many returned but some were killed and lie buried in known or unknown graves. One such Thorne son laid buried near Ypres in Belgium for 98 years before his remains were identified and laid to rest in 2016.

Gunner Albert Venus. By kind permission of his family.


Albert William Venus was laid to rest in Ypres on 20 April 2016, exactly 101 years to the day he sailed from Southampton to Flanders with the Royal Field Artillery.

He and four fellow gunners were killed in action by German shellfire at 7am on 24 May 1915 while serving with the North Riding Battery outside Ypres. Albert’s only recognition was on Thorne War Memorial. Research by a local historian eventually found the account of his death in war diaries. His name was added to the Menin Gate, Ypres, in 2015. During excavations in 2013 unidentified remains were found that were later confirmed to be Albert through DNA testing. He was finally buried with military honours witnessed by family members.

Herbert’s name on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. Photograph by Tony Brookes.


Herbert, Albert’s younger brother, joined the Royal Navy as a boy in 1912, following his father’s work on keel boats.

He was killed serving as an Able Seaman when HMS Black Prince was lost with all hands during the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.

Ernest Reed, second from right, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry Museum

Walter Reed, by kind permission of his family


Ernest and Walter Reed joined the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and were fighting in France by 1915. News arrived home that Ernest had been gassed. After a visit to a field hospital he was back fighting. 1 July 1916 saw him on the Somme in an isolated position for 11 hours with just a machine gun. He was awarded the Military Medal for his actions.

In May 1918, three months after Walter had been home on leave, Annie was informed that he was missing.  is body was never found.

George joined the Royal Scots Regiment in 1916 and was taken prisoner of war. He and Ernest returned to Thorne, married and had children but Annie always kept a light in a window so Walter could find his way home.