Haron Baronian’s story was uncovered by Maria Graham who came across his statue when she was working on her MA in Art History. Haron’s statue is one of a very few full body World War 1 memorials and therefore it raised some interest with Maria. Further research was then carried out into the Baronian family and we are grateful to her for kindly sharing that with the project.
Maria Graham: The Baronian Memorial
You may have seen this memorial on the website already and wondered about its relevance to the ‘UK Armenians and WW1’ project.
The memorial is to a young soldier, Haron Baronian. He was a Private in the British Army who was killed in Mesopotamia on 11th April 1917, a month after his 21st birthday. Haron’s parents were both Armenian. His father, Zareh, had arrived in England from Turkey at the end of the nineteenth century and worked in the cotton trade in Manchester. He married, and became a naturalized British citizen and then went onto set up a financially successful business. Zareh then purchased a house in a prestigious area of Knutsford, England.
World War I broke out in September 1914 and in December 1915 Haron, the second son of Zareh Baronian and his wife Shushan, left his studies at Manchester University and joined the British Army. However, when Haron was killed on active duty, his wealthy family chose to memorialize him in a very special and unusual way. They commissioned a well-known Royal Academician, Hamo Thornycroft, to create a life-size sculpture of their son and this was then erected in the grounds of their family home in Knutsford.
During the 1920s, the family fell on hard times. Their large house was sold in the 1930s and the memorial was moved to the grounds of a local country house, Booths Hall. This was meant to be a temporary measure, but the memorial stayed there for over 40 years until it was donated to the Cheshire Health Authority in 1977 by Haron’s sister, Dolly. It was relocated to the grounds of the War Memorial Hospital and, over the years, the identity of the young soldier on the memorial was largely forgotten.
As part of the HLF project, the story of Haron Baronian, his family, and the memorial will be recorded as an important legacy of the Armenians in the UK and their involvement in WW1.