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Image of A poppy wreath laid next to the College war memorial

Remembering Ralph Sampson

A century on from his death, we'd like to hear from any family of a Cambridge-based staff member killed in action in November 1917, hoping to add a photograph of him to our First World War Roll of Honour.

Relatives of Sawston-born Percival Ralph Sampson, known as Ralph, who worked at the College as a combination man from 1911 until he was called up to fight, are encouraged to contact our archivist.

A rifleman in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, Sampson fell in action on 30 November 1917. Reported missing after the Battle of Cambrai, he was officially confirmed dead nearly a year later.  He was 34 years old.

The sixth son of police sergeant Alfred Sampson and his wife Alice, Ralph, as he was known, was born while his father was posted to Sawston. His birth was registered in early 1884.

Ralph married Annie Wheeldon in early 1912 at West Ham.  The couple lived at 262 Cherry Hinton Road in Cambridge, not too far from Ralph’s widowed mother who lived at 152 Blinco Grove.

At Jesus College, Ralph would likely have performed footman duties to the 16 Fellows of the College, and have been part of the close-knit College community.

College records show that in May 1916, the Fellows agreed to pay half a crown each week to Annie in Ralph’s absence. After his death, this payment was extended until the Sampson’s youngest child turned 16.

College archivist, Robert Athol, says: “We believe that Annie survived her husband by almost fifty years. She and Ralph had at least two children, so could still have relatives living in the Cambridge area.

“We would very much like to hear from any of Ralph’s family, and would be especially grateful if they would share any photographs they may have of him. Since 2014, we have been commemorating the College fallen in our online Roll of Honour and would like to add a photograph to Ralph’s entry if possible, remembering him and his sacrifice.”

The Roll of Honour is an online project, commemorating members of the College community who died in World War One in the centenary month of their deaths.

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