Drummer Boy’s Military Funeral – November 2007
On 20th March 1919, the Isle of Wight Times noted the death of a Drummer Boy, Joseph Grayson:
An extremely sad death has taken place at the Castle, Ryde, in the passing away of Drummer Joseph Grayson, of the Royal Field Artillery, who was only 15½ years of age. A bright, cheery lad, he soon made himself popular amongst the wounded “Tommies” and the staff when he came as a patient with nephritis, from Hillsea Barracks. He was only dangerously ill for a few days, before his death, and it was much deplored by one and all in the hospital from the Commandant (Miss Friend), downwards. “He was a very good lad” remarked the Commandant to our representative. Young Grayson appeared to be cut out for the Army, and after leaving a military school in Ireland was attached to the Regulars. He was a native of Leeds, and his mother visited him in the hospital about a week before his death.
Much interest was displayed with regard the funeral which took place in the Roman Catholic portion of the Cemetery, on Wednesday, 12th inst. The authorities at Parkhurst arranged for military honours, and in place of a gun carriage which was not available, the coffin was conveyed in a hearse, men of the R.F.A. acting as bearers. As many of the patients as possible followed the remains and they numbered about 60, also the Commandant and 19 of the nursing staff. Great respect was shown as the procession passed through the streets on the way to the cemetery where a good number of people assembled. The deceased and his relatives belonged to the Roman Catholic faith and the last rites were impressively carried out by Canon Stephen Morgan, rector of St Mary’s. The coffin having been lowered, volleys were fired over the grave, and the “Last Post” was sounded.
A beautiful wreath, suitably inscribed was sent by the men at the hospital and a Red Cross wreath, from the staff.