LOOKING BACK - February 18 edition

William Vernon
William Vernon

Soldier William Vernon

Since this appeal was published in Thursday’s Advertiser William Vernon’s family have been in touch and Trevor Green is looking forward to presenting them with a copy of the book.

Emma and Leslie

Emma and Leslie

Trevor Green from Lancashire has been in touch this week, seeking the help of Advertiser readers.

He is writing a book about his grandmother’s youngest brother, WWI soldier William Vernon, who died on the Somme in February 1917.

Trevor is hoping to trace William’s descendents, so that on the centenary of his death next year he can present them with a copy of the book.

The Rugby connection comes from William’s great grand children Sharon Joanne Vernon (born in 1972 in Sutton Coldfield) and David Graham Vernon (born 1977 in Daventry).

William Vernon's grave in France

William Vernon's grave in France

Sharon may possibly have married Gary Goldingray in Rugby in 1997. Their parents are Graham and Susan Vernon, who Trevor thinks may still be living in the Birmingham area.

He hopes to make contact with them and would like anyone who can help to get in touch.

William (pictured above) was born in Chadsmoor, Cannock in 1890 and became a coal hewer underground at Littleton Colliery with his father and brothers. He enlisted at the outbreak of World War I and was posted to Wareham, Devon for his training.

He was billeted in a small hamlet called Lamerton where he met Emma Jarman, a domestic servant (born 1892).

William embarked for France in August 1915 and returned on compassionate leave that December to marry Emma, who was expecting his child at the time.

Trevor says it’s highly likely that he returned to France before his son, Leslie, was born in January 1916 and may never have seen him. (The photograph above is of Emma and Leslie, taken in about 1918 at Tavistock).

Emma went to live with her sister in Birmingham but Trevor has not been able to find any record of her remarrying or of her death in the UK, although there is mention of an Emma Vernon, domestic servant sailing to the United States in 1919 on the SS Lapland.

William, who served in the 8th Service Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, went to fight on the battlefields of France and Flanders.

His role was to supply the trenches with ammunition, water, wire etc mainly by night which was a highly dangerous task.

He was probably wounded by shellfire on December 28-29 and ended up in no.5 military hospital, Rouen, where he rallied for a while but died of his wounds on February 7, 1917.

William is buried at the nearby Sever Military Cemetery. His grave, which Trevor has visited, is pictured.

Trevor says: “I accept that the story is somewhat complicated, but in tracing Sharon and David I hope to meet other family members.

“I have spent the past 25 years researching William’s personal and military life and written an extensive book that I would be pleased to share and present to his descendents so that his memory may live on.

“Indeed, they may be able to shed more light on the lives of William, Emma and Leslie.”