Joseph Kevork Zorian was born in Romiley, Salford on 2 December 1897, the third of seven children in the family of Kevork Hovannes Zorian and Helen Maloolian. Kevork and Helen both escaped the Diarbekir massacres in 1895. According to the 1911 census, Kevork’s occupation was Missionary & Superintendent to the Servant Strangers Mission.
Joseph was educated at the Manchester Municipal Secondary School and was a member of the Romiley Boy Scouts Troop, and then worked at Ayrton’s Engineering Works. He enlisted on 6 March 1917 as a private in the 2nd Battalion of The Royal Welsh Fusiliers Regiment, and fought in France and Flanders from May 2017. He was wounded on 27 September 2017 in Zonnebeke, and died in Boulogne on 13 October 2017 as the result of complications from severe shrapnel wounds in the head, face and body. He was buried in Wimereux, which was the headquarters of Queen Mary’s Army Auxilliary Corps during the First World War, and which in 1919 became the General Headquarters of the British Army. His parents received a letter commending him for his courage and good influence on the other soldiers.
De Ruvigny’s The Roll of Honour mentions a quote from his friend, who said that ‘he was destined to play his little part in the great struggle towards the punishment and destruction of the brute force which drove his parents out of their homeland’.
From his obituary in Ararat: Searchlight in Armenia
“Shortly before young Zorian received his wounds he was complimented by his company officer for the endurance he displayed by marching for 42 hours out of 48, a test which but few of his comrades were able to come through with so much credit.
A beautiful side of Joseph Zorian’s character was exemplified in his consistent endeavour to adhere to a high standard of life, even with war distractions around him. He had been a regular attendant at St. Chad’s Church and Sunday School. In France he took a conspicuous part in Y.M.C.A. work. His interest was maintained for years in the Bible Searchers column of The Christian, and that paper records the following touching note on his death :—
SOLDIER AND SEARCHER.
The name of Joseph Zorian was for many years well known in the weekly Bible Searcher Lists. Some time ago word reached me that he had “joined up,” and was doing good work for the Master among his comrades as a brave and true soldier of Jesus Christ. Then he was sent to the Front, and on September 27th was very severely wounded. He lived long enough for those in the hospital round him to hear him repeat the Lord’s Prayer, and then the Home Call came, and he is to-day “ with Christ, which is far better.” His father writes me: “ He has been a Bible Searcher for these last ten years, and tried to persuade others to be members too.” What a splendid testimony ! Will you all pray for his mother and father and sisters and brothers – who are very sad to-day in the loss of their dear one. And will you Bible Searchers try and follow his example, and each one of you try and gain one new member in memory of Joseph Zorian, whose work down here is done, and who rests for evermore!
Severely wounded on September 27th, Private Zorian was found subsequently in a shell hole, and was admitted into hospital in France on October 1st. A message from that country stated that the head wounds had proved fatal; and that he was buried in a cemetery in a lovely spot, on sloping ground overlooking the sea in the most beautiful and peaceful corner that can be imagined.
We have been privileged to see Joseph Zorian’s letters from the front, and therein runs the spirit of hope and encouragement till “victory is assured.” The thought uppermost in his mind is that those he has left behind at home should “not worry about him.” And to all those, his nearest and dearest, Ararat tenders its deep and respectful sympathy.”