A retired teacher from Garstang has described the ‘moving moment’ she discovered a relative killed in World War One was finally identified.
Marlene Jackson of Kepple Lane has added a new branch to her family tree after finding out that the remains of her great-uncle were among 15 soldiers found during construction work near the French village of Beaucamps-Ligny in 2009.
Now, after five years of in-depth research, 10 of the soldiers have been named after DNA analysis of samples from relatives, including Mrs Jackson.
The mother-of-two said she was ‘surprised’ to find, her grandmother Ethel’s brother Private Herbert Ernest Allcock, was among those identified.
He is believed to have died in battle in October 1914.
She said: “I had a phone call out of the blue from the Ministry of Defence asking if I had any relatives named Allcock.
“I didn’t think I had but then realised it was my grandmother’s maiden name and it turned out her brother had been found.
“It was quite a surprise because I never knew about him, and when all the families met up at the meeting in Sheffield, it was quite moving to hear about the whole process of them being identified.”
Mrs Jackson, who is married to husband, Philip and has two grown-up children, Jonathan and Nichola, added: “I have also discovered some distant cousins that I had never knew I had. We’re going to meet up again when we go over to France for the burial.”
All the soldiers discovered were with 2nd Battalion The York and Lancaster Regiment, and are believed to have died in battle on October 18 1914.
Five other bodies are yet to be named. The men are due to be given a funeral with full military honours in October at a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, while investigations continue to try and track down relatives for the remaining bodies.
Meanwhile, pupils at four schools in the Garstang area are to be given copies of a book on the lives, times, and deaths of the 19 local servicemen who died fighting in World War One.
The book is being written by historian Paul Smith, who has been researching Garstang’s war dead, all of whose names are listed on the Great War section of the Garstang and Bonds war memorial on Park Hill Road.
Paul, who is being assisted in the project by Garstang Historical Society vice-chairman Anthony Coppin, hopes the book will be published by midsummer, though the timing will depend on a hoped-for grant of up to £3,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
It is hoped pupils at St Thomas’s CE, Garstang Community Primary, SS Mary and Michael’s RC and Garstang Academy will all receive a copy of the book.
Paul and Anthony have recently applied for the HLF grant to fund the publication, which it is hoped will be printed by a local printing company.
During 2014, which sees the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, Paul will be giving three lectures, the first of which will be on, April 9.
The lecture is entitled “The edge of catastrophe” and will look at the political and military events leading up to what was known as ‘The Great War.’
The illustrated lecture will begin at 7.30pm at Garstang United Reformed Church hall. There is a £2 charge for non-members, which includes refreshments.