‘I am a biographer and have lived in St Albans since 2002. My great-uncle, Private Harris Verblowsky, served in the London Regiment of the Royal Fusiliers. Harris died in the third battle of Ypres in Belgium on 14th September 1917 at the age of 29. His name is engraved at the Menin Gate, where soldiers whose bodies were not found, or not identified as theirs, are named.'
‘Harris Verblowsky and his large Russian immigrant family were naturalised as British citizens in 1903. After Harris joined the British army during the First World War, his younger brother, David, went to the United States to live with a relative. Soon afterwards David met Annie, his future wife. They were married in New York in 1919, before returning to England to start a family. Their third daughter, Shirley, was my mother.’
'I visited the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing in Ypres, Belgium, in 2015 and was profoundly affected by seeing my great-uncle Harris’s name there. I was struck by the thought that if it wasn’t for Harris’s service, his brother David may not have travelled to the US; if he had stayed in England, or been sent to fight in Europe, David and my grandmother Annie would not have met and I would not be here today.’