Father and son will join in tributes to uncle ‘lost’ in WW1
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.
●●George Wellock and, inset, his grave at the Heath Cemetery near Harbonnieres, France