Rugby girl learns of war hero in the family

Katy with a picture of her great-great-grandfather
Katy with a picture of her great-great-grandfather

A trip to fields where thousands fought and died in the First World War proved particularly poignant for a girl from Rugby.

Cadet Katy Ellis laid a cross to commemorate the death of one her ancestors, who was commended for his bravery and wrote a powerful letter home shortly before he died.

Katy was one of 80 Army cadets from Warwickshire who spent the bank holiday weekend on a battlefield tour to learn more about the conflict and to honour the soldiers who served in it.

Katy paid tribute to her great-great-grandfather, Cpl Percy James Rainsford Hendley, who died in August 1917.

Before he died, Corporal Hendley sent a letter to his mother. He wrote: “Thank God I have done my duty, even if I fall tomorrow, for I am sure I should fall happily, especially now that I have brought honour to the family; but I know I should not bring disgrace.”

Corporal Hendley was decorated with the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal for his bravery.

Katy found out about the hero in her family only when she told her grandmother about the trip.

Katy said: “I greatly admire the men who went out and fought, and it is even more touching when it is this personal.”

The cadets attended four memorial ceremonies, the highlight of which was the at The Menin Gate where they laid wreaths.

Their trip ties in with their history school work for the year and gave them a unique insight into the conflict.

2nd Lt Lee Walton, who helped lead the trip, said: “I would like the cadets to have an understanding of the sacrifices made and the sheer number of people involved.”