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retired dentist - Toronto, Canada

The gentleman above was contacted through the help of one of the contributors, and I already knew one member of the family was killed in the First World War, from the plaque on the wall of St John’s church. Ralph Max Warren died in 1915, though unlike other war dead from the same list no information concerning his family were available in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site.

Ralph Max Warren was in fact killed during WWI and he was the son (one of eight boys and one daughter) of Amos Warren who was my great-grandfather. It was Amos you went to Smyrna to work with the Ottoman Railway Company, around the early 1860s. He was an accountant with the company, as far as I know. He was born in Penhurst in Kent in 1841 and was the second son of John Alfred Warren of Tunbridge Wells, about whom I know nothing more. But Amos took a liking to Smyrna and decided to make it his permanent home. He married Madelaine (born 1847, maiden name unknown) in 1869 and their eldest son was Albert (born 1870), my grandfather. The other offspring in order is, John (1872), Sydney (1873), Alfred (1875), Percy (1876), Ralph (1879), Edgar (1881) and Louisa (1887) - see photo. As a result three generations of Warrens were born there. My father Cecil Redvers, and myself Redvers Cecil. I was under the impression, though I do not know where the information came from, that Amos was a keen Anglican and played a significant part in having the Church in Boudjah built. I have never been there to see it in spite of the fact that I have been visiting Izmir annually for the past thirty years or so.

Clearly Amos was devoted to his wife as this poem written in 1919 in Boudjah, still on the back of the photo taken in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary.

To Madaleine,
Fifty years ago my Dear, we both our vows did take,
That we would all our Strength devote for each others sake,
We prayed for God’s assistance, and He the most divine,
Is good to those who keep his laws and makes their faces shine;
Thus were we joined in happiness, a joy unto each other,
With thankful hearts we toiled on helping one another
We have had our trials....The lot of all mankind,
Yet being so united we left them soon behind;
Boys we had in numbers, in them we found a pleasure
At last a daughter came to us in her we found a treasure!
We lost a boy in infancy our hearts were full of pain
And Ralph when fighting bravely was by the Germans slain.
Oh God, who helped us in the past thy benefactions spread
before the path, as on our way with failing strength we tread
And when to thee it seems the time to close our earth career
Oh let us then behold thy face in heavens atmosphere.
From Amos

Ralph Max Warren’s newspaper announcement of his death is also retained by the family, from which the following is obtained. ‘...Corporal Ralph M. Warren, was killed in action in France on July 30th and also cousin, Corporal Cecil P. Rice, has died in Boulogne of wounds received whilst in action. These two gallant Britishers came with a party of sixteen from Smyrna to serve their King and country, and it is to be regretted that most of them have either been killed or wounded. In a most sympathetic letter to Mr Sydney Warren, Lieut. John Maxwell of the 7th Battalion Rifle Brigade, says: “Your brother was in my platoon, and I regret his loss very much indeed. He was a gallant soldier, and had every quality which I would wish for in a N.C.O. His perfect coolness and reliability would certainly have got him rapid promotion and distinction. His death took place in an attack we had to make through a wood. I can only regret that England has lost a very gallant soldier, whilst I have lost my best N.C.O., as well as a very good friend.”

Note: From the Commonwealth war graves commission web site, Max Warren was one 5 soldiers killed in 1915, the first batch to reach a total number of 12 by 1919. Thus it is mysterious that the phrase ‘most of the 16 have either been killed or wounded’ by this early date. Clearly the casualty rate amongst volunteers was shockingly above the general soldier, and the above sentence could be explained by the same wounded soldiers returning to the trenches to be killed, almost in entirety. The phrase cousin means the Warren and Rice families were related, though this link is now lost.

Albert Warren probably worked for a period of time at the Ottoman Railway Company.

Note: This hunch is strengthened by the discovery of an ‘A. Warren’ who had a ‘bachelor pad’ (only 1 person shown in domicile) in the 1898 ‘Point radius listing’, no doubt a convenience for a person (almost certainly Albert, 28 at the time and not his father) working at the nearby station.

He had two sons with wife Anna (nee now unknown, but possibly Kasapoglu, suggesting an ‘Eastern Catholic’ origin), Cecil Redvers (1899) and Eric Valentine a couple of years later. Alec Issigonis, the Smyrna born legendary British car designer’s mother and my grandmother, Anna were sisters. As a result of the deteriorating situation in Turkey the remaining part of the Warren family, namely my grandfather Albert and Anna, my father Cecil and Marcelle and son Redvers (me aged 1), as well as Eric Warren moved to Athens Greece in 1928.

Note: From the Guildhall records we know that Cecil married Marcelle Topuz a year before this departure. I suspect this surname is of an Armenian Catholic background.

Once my parents got to Athens they did not leave. The only exception was the war period of April 41 to November 1945 when we were refugees in Jerusalem for the duration of WW II. Marcelle born 1904 in Smyrna, died in Athens 1978, while husband Cecil Redvers life span (same locations) was 1899-1982. Albert and Anna Warren escaped from Athens ten days before the Germans took the city in April 1941, and were in Cairo as refugees. Albert died in Cairo in 1950 and is buried there. Anna outlived him, came back to Athens after the war and died at the age of 98.

No more of Amos Warren’s progeny remained in Smyrna. The brothers John, Sydney and Percy all married three sisters (nee unknown)! John went to England early on and studied electrical engineering, did amazingly well in his chosen profession until he died in 1950, aged 78, and the Financial Times printed his obituary, still retained by the family. Sydney Warren also went to England where he married Flory in 1897 and lived in Teddington, and had a daughter and a son. Both died a ripe old age. Alfred married Catina Zaharoff (Russian background?) with whom he had three sons and a daughter. He died in Ealing London in 1961. Percy Warren married May and had seven daughters and one son. Edgar Warren I think emigrated to Australia, where he married, had a family and died in 1938. Louisa married Val Stewart, was an accomplished painter in her day, and of which we have two oils, signed LW, and died in London in 1974.

My wife, Margaret, has assembled a family tree with quite a bit of information regarding details of marriages, dates of birth and death etc as well as pictures of many of the individuals. However, no photos or references to the family house in Boudjah.

Note: Mr Warren has kindly copied a dozen family photos covering all 3 generations (with names indicated) to add to the photo archive file to supplement this document.

Dick Wookey is an entrepreneur/developer here in Toronto. He was also born in Smyrna but as I understand it his parents divorced, his father returned to England while his mother remarried to an Italian gentleman in Smyrna whose name escapes me at the moment. Mr Wookey was the gentleman who developed the prestigious Toronto central neighbourhood of Yorkville in the Bloor / Avenue Rd area.

Notes: 1- The marriage records for Bornova viewed at the Guildhall library lists a William Wallace Wookey marrying a Ruby Gladys Whittall in 1926. William is listed as an industrialist and his father Lionel appears to be the consul at the time. However the Whittall family tree gives his name as Gerald which may be an error. Ruby was the daughter of Albert James Whittall and Agnes Maud Keyser both of whom have featured in this study before. Ruby’s son Ian Richard was born in 1928 and his sister Daphnee (b.1931) married Enrico Aliberti with whom she had a daughter and 2 sons, and still lives in Bornova.
2- View family tomb in Athens, Greece.
3- In July 2010 contact was established with the Australian branch of the Warren family, grandson of Percy Warren and a member of this family has placed online the memoirs of Sydney N. Warren, another of one of the sons of Amos, viewable here with additional genealogical information.

to top of page interview date 2003