Fa­ther and son will join in trib­utes to un­cle ‘lost’ in WW1

Rochdale Observer - - NOSTALGIA - Ste­fan.jajecznyk@reach­plc.com @sja­jecznykMEN

AMAN whose great un­cle was killed in the last months of the First World War will be at­tend­ing an armistice com­mem­o­ra­tion in the town near­est to where he was killed.

Stuart Davies, from Whit­worth, was al­ways told by his fam­ily that his great un­cle, Ge­orge Wel­lock, was ‘lost in France.’

The ex-marine was in­spired to find out more about his grand­fa­ther’s brother af­ter in­her­it­ing his ‘death penny’ and medals.

He said: “My grand­fa­ther never spoke of his brother. As a child it seemed rather sad that he went off to war and my grand­fa­ther would never see him again.

“My mother al­ways told me the story that Ge­orge’s mother left the front door of their home ‘off the latch’ for a very long time af­ter his death, ex­pect­ing him to come walk­ing in.”

Af­ter some on­line re­search, Stuart, 60, who now works in IT, found his great-un­cle was buried in Heath Ceme­tery near the French town of Har­bon­nieres - where he and his youngest son, Niall, 23, will be pre­sent for an Armistice com­mem­o­ra­tion on Sun­day, Novem­ber 11.

They were in­vited to the event af­ter a small me­mo­rial they left be­hind at the site of Ge­orge’s burial caused a stir in the small, Somme-re­gion town around two hours South of Calais.

Stuart said: “Around two years ago I searched Ge­orge’s name on­line and found grid ref­er­ences of where he was buried, de­tails of his head­stone and its lo­ca­tion in the ceme­tery and de­tails of his medals.

“I got a trench map from July 1918 and plot­ted where Ge­orge was killed and said to my lad, let’s go.”

They vis­ited the ceme­tery and the ex­act grid ref­er­ence, Stuart says he left a small me­mo­rial - con­sist­ing of a bunch of roses and a lam­i­nated picture of Ge­orge with his de­tails on a fence post.

Af­ter re­turn­ing home, Stuart re­ceived a sur­pris­ing phone call. He said: “I got a call from an English guy, called John Orr, who lived near the town in France and he told me the me­mo­rial we left caused quite a stir in the town. He found me by look­ing through the vis­i­tors’ book in the ceme­tery.”

‘Hum­bled’ Stuart says he has vis­ited the Har­bon­nieres in Au­gust and was hon­oured by the town’s trib­utes to his great un­cle.

He said: “On the day of his death, they or­gan­ised an hon­our guard and two dozen peo­ple went for the ser­vice - they laid flow­ers and played the last post. It’s quite hum­bling re­ally.”

With close links now es­tab­lished with Har­bon­nieres’ mayor and coun­cil, Stuart is look­ing for­ward to spend­ing the 100 year an­niver­sary of the end of the First World War and Remembrance Sun­day in the small town where his ‘lost’ un­cle was fi­nally found.

●●Stuart Davies

●●Niall Davies

●●Ge­orge Wel­lock and, in­set, his grave at the Heath Ceme­tery near Har­bon­nieres, France

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.