Lovers’ descen­dants to meet French fam­ily

Western Morning News (Saturday) - - Remembrance -

Along dis­tance love story be­tween a young Cor­nish miner from Dol­coath and a young woman from Bea­con will be re­mem­bered this Ar­mistice Day in France by his descen­dants and the French fam­ily who wel­comed him to their home in the First World War.

Cam­borne man Les­ley

Pen­te­cost (pic­tured ) was a miner at Dol­coath when he signed up in 1914. Led by Cam­borne doc­tor, Wil­liam Black­wood, they joined the Royal Army Med­i­cal Corps and went straight out to the Western Front. They went first to the town of Es­taires, in north­ern France, where some were bil­leted with lo­cal fam­i­lies.

This Ar­mistice Day week­end, Les­ley’s descen­dants, led by his grand­daugh­ter Ali­son Poo­ley of Il­lo­gan, will travel to Es­taires and meet descen­dants of the

Smag­ghue fam­ily, in whose house Les­ley was bil­leted in the war.

Ali­son will take pho­to­graphs and post­cards for the Smag­ghues – who have no records of this time as their home was de­stroyed by the end of the war and Es­taires left in ru­ins.

The two fam­i­lies will also mark a long dis­tance love story. Be­fore he signed up, Les­ley had fallen in love. He was in Dol­coath mine’s St John Am­bu­lance unit and one night had par­tic­i­pated in a train­ing ses­sion with young trainee nurses. Lil­lie Uren (pic­tured) , from Bea­con, was one of these women – and she prac­tised ban­dag­ing his knee.

“Their eyes locked – and the rest is his­tory,” says Su­san Roberts, di­rec­tor of the char­ity Bridg­ing Arts which has been mark­ing the cen­te­nary of the

First World War in Corn­wall over the past four years. “Les­ley set off for war and left Lil­lie be­hind. They cor­re­sponded over the war years, and the fam­ily – quite mirac­u­lously – has pre­served the let­ters and post­cards care­fully.”

Along with the love let­ters be­tween Les­ley and Lil­lie are oth­ers writ­ten by the Smag­ghue fam­ily back to Les­ley’s fam­ily back in Cam­borne. Clearly a strong friend­ship was forged.

“Be­cause of this friend­ship, we thought it would be im­por­tant to dis­cover if any Smag­ghues still lived in the area,” says Su­san. “With the help of staff at the town hall in Es­taires, we man­aged to track down some descen­dants of the peo­ple who wel­comed Les­ley so warmly. They were thrilled to dis­cover this link – and pho­to­graphs of their grand­fa­ther that they had never pre­vi­ously seen. It’s won­der­ful that 100 years on they are go­ing to be re­united with the descen­dants of Les­ley Pen­te­cost.”

The lo­cal school – which was trans­formed into a hospi­tal dur­ing the war by the Royal Army Med­i­cal Corp – is stag­ing a play and ex­hi­bi­tion about this poignant story this week­end.

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