Fi­nal salute to Bobby af­ter mys­tery solved

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OFF THE RECORD - by Mike Ben­nett

Ken­tish Ex­press helps fam­ily find the an­swers they needed

AF­TER more than half a cen­tury a man has fi­nally been able to visit the grave of his sol­dier brother – thanks to the Ken­tish Ex­press.

Al­most two years ago, we told the tale of John Marsh, from Ken­ning­ton, who was called up for Na­tional Ser­vice and posted with the Army to serve in the Suez Canal.

In April 1951 he died and was buried in a mil­i­tary ceme­tery in Egypt.

His fam­ily re­ceived a sparse tele­gram in­form­ing them of the death, but with lit­tle de­tail.

His best friend Stan Matthews from Bex­ley­heath, who had signed up on the same day, trav­elled on the same troop ship and served with the same sig­nals unit in the desert, never for­got the young man who was known as Bobby.

We fea­tured a pil­grim­age he made to the grave of his old comrade that led to a meet­ing be­tween fam­ily mem­bers and Stan, who solved the mys­tery of how Bobby died. He in­formed his fam­ily that Bobby had in fact died sud­denly of po­lio while on ser­vice.

Now Bobby’s Span­ish-based brother Ted, who is chair­man of the Ali­cante dis­trict Royal Bri­tish Le­gion branch, is just back from a nos­tal­gic visit where he saluted the grave of his long lost brother.

He said: “I trav­elled with the Suez Vet­er­ans’ As­so­ci­a­tion on a ten-day pil­grim­age to the canal zone and was able to stand at the head­stone of my brother af­ter 56 years.

“We held a ser­vice com­plete with the Last Post in what is an ex­cel­lently kept ceme­tery and it was a mov­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Had it not been for Stan and the Ken­tish Ex­press it would not have hap­pened. I served in the RAF for 36 years and lost many com­rades, but I have never come across a man like Stan who has kept alive mem­o­ries of a mate for more than half a cen­tury.

“This is the fi­nal chap­ter of a long story and I thank Stan and the Ken­tish Ex­press for mak­ing my dream a re­al­ity.”

Ted Marsh at his brother’s grave in Egypt

Private Bobby Marsh (crouch­ing) with Army pals in the cater­ing unit, be­fore go­ing to Egypt

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