BID TO TRACE FAMILY OF WAR HEROES
THEY lay where they fell for almost a century. Brave men who gave their lives in the First World War.
The remains of four soldiers were discovered in a farmer’s field near Ypres in Belgium by an archaeologist carrying out exploratory battlefield studies in 2009.
The exact site was close to Comines-Warneton and all four, from the 2nd Battalion, the Lancashire Fusiliers, were killed in action on October 18, 1914.
Now the Ministry of Defence has revealed three of the four are believed to be from Manchester.
After painstaking research carried out over years, possible names have been released with the hope of tracing relatives to undergo DNA testing for confirmation. They are Privates William Cheetham Taylor, Charles Moroney and William Purslow.
All four were reburied in Flanders Fields with full military honours in April 2015 as ‘ Unknown Soldiers of the Lancashire Fusiliers’. They rest today at Prowse Point Cemetery in Ploegsteert, Belgium.
The MOD said DNA proof of their identities would mean their graves being rededicated next year to bear their names.
Before the burials in 2015, samples were taken from the remains.
The Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre ( JCCC) wants to try to confirm the identities by comparing the samples with any living relatives.
As such, a public appeal has been issued in Greater Manchester. Louise Dorr, from the JCCC, said: “I would love to hear from anyone who may be able to help find these men’s families.
“Although they have already been buried as unknown soldiers, I really want to be able to identify them so that their headstones may bear their names and their families know that they have been laid to rest.
“As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, it brings home just how many thousands of men were lost and still have no known grave.”
MOD investigators have worked with the National Army Museum to study war diaries, trench maps and battlefield orders.
The three names repre- sent the closest evaluation the MOD can get.
Not much is known about Pte Taylor. From his family tree, it’s believed he was born in 1884.
He married a Maud Gertrude Junner on Boxing Day, 1908 and their son, Albert Edward Taylor, was born in August, 1910.
The 1911 Census saw them living at 20 Elm Street, off Oldham Road in Manchester. The 1939 register shows Albert as living at 65 Rowbotham Street, Hyde. He’s listed as married.
Pte Moroney was the son of Charles and Mary Moroney, of Ryland Street, Dean Road, Salford. He married Mary Ellen Ashton in 1913 and they lived at 10, Sandywell, Greengate, Salford.
It appears they had a son, Charles Rochford Moroney, who was born the same year as his father died.
Pte Moroney had several siblings, including Alfred Bertram Taylor, who had a son and two daughters.
Pte Purslow was the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Purslow. His mother lived in Thornton Street, Collyhurst. He was married to Mary Elizabeth Purslow and they lived in Ryder Street, Collyhurst.
He had a sister, Lizzie, and three brothers, George, Thomas and Victor. George died in 1916, but both Thomas and Victor went on to marry and have children.
The last known address for Thomas’ youngest son, Norman, was Rosebank Road, Newton Heath.
The soldiers were buried with full military honours in 2015