Following the recent Jersey Evening Post article
on the publication of my book, "Ours - The Jersey
Pals in the First World War", I received a telephone
call from someone whose father had served in World
War One. Not only that, Peter Bihet announced, he
was from a Channel Islands family that contributed
no less than eight brothers and sisters to serve king
and country. Intrigued, I met Peter to find out more.
The Bihet family originally came to Jersey from France
in the 19th Century. Pierre Bihet and his future wife
Marie apparently fled to escape a law preventing marriages
between Catholics and Protestants. In 1891, they were
living in Jersey, but ten years later, in 1901, had
moved with their nine children to St Annes in Alderney.
In between, for a brief while at least, they must
have also lived in Guernsey because one child was
born their in 1897. By 1914, when war broke out, the
family, or at least some of the children, may have
returned to Guernsey.
During the course of the war, eight of the Bihet
children served in one capacity or another. After
enlisting in March, 1915, Constant, John
(Jean) and Arthur joined the Guernsey-raised 9th
Divisional Ammunition Column, serving as drivers.
John, who later joined a Trench Mortar Battery, lost
his life in May, 1917 reportedly due to a misfiring
mortar tube. Another brother, Marcel, also served
in the Royal Field Artillery, although apparently
in a different unit to his three siblings. The final
brother, Ernest, was the father of Peter Bihet. Having
served in the Royal Navy for several years prior to
the war, illness appears to have forced him to leave
in 1915. Three Bihet sisters also served their country.
Ada worked in the munitions industry while Justine
and Louise were nurses, the former with the Red Cross
and the latter with the Queen Alexandra Imperial Military
Nursing Service. Two of these also had husbands that
served in the Army.
Time and other projects preclude a more detailed
research of this remarkable family. But it must be
something to come back to. Eight members of one family,
plus two in-laws all serving together, and with links
to Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney - could it be a record?
© 2009 Ian Ronayne