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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Danson Family at War - Remembrance

John and George Danson named on Poulton War Memorial

Few families in the country  must have escaped the impact of the First World War and the Danson family of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire  were no exception, with my great-grandmother Maria Danson, nee Rawcliffe a widow in 1914  with 7 surviving sons - John, Robert,  Albert, William (my grandfather), Tom, Frank and George.  
Poulton War Memorial and St. Chad;s Church

John Danson (right) had already encountered tragedy in his life when his wife Sarah Haydon Lounds died at the young age of 21 , leaving behind  infant daughter Annie Maria.  Family recollections told how John had become engaged to Dorothy Chisholm (photograph right) , but before they were married John a gunner in the Royal Field Artillery died 17th May 1917, buried in Moorland Cemetery, Poulton.  Something of a mystery surrounded his death, with a story that "Granny had to fight to get his name on the Poulton War Memorial in the Square" and he was not listed  on the memorial in St. Chad's Church.    It was only through his niece that I learnt that John,  a prisoner of war,  had committed suicide, leaving Annie orphaned at the age of 12.  So far I have not been able to verify this.    John's fiancee Dorothy never married and the Danson family continued to maintain a close link with her.  Like many women of her generation she remained alone, living in a bedsitter and I had memories as a child  of visiting her with my mother and aunt.

Tom Danson (left) worked as a clerk at Poulton Station, but I know little else about him.

Frank Danson (right)  served in Malta during the war and afterwords worked  as a painter in Poulton.

Tom (left) with his brother George
Willian Danson my grandfather  (below) won the Military Medal at Passechendaele and sent home to his wife  Alice and children the beautifully embroidered cards from Flanders - look out for a  future posting to find out more. 

George Danson (right ) was the favourite uncle of my mother and aunt, perhaps because he was nearest to them in age and took on the role of the big brother.  He worked on W.H. Smith bookstalls at different railway stations, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was killed 16th September 1916 at  the Battle of the Somme. 

Two letters remain with the family,  written on headed paper of  the British Expeditionary Force. A letter of 19th March 1916 to his oldest brother Robert  said "I will tell you one thing it is no easy job the army life today and I am of the opinion as most of the chaps are here they won't be sorry when it is all over."

The second letter of 23rd August 1916 was to Frank, his brother nearest to him in age.    "At present we are abut 8 miles behind the firing line.  I had to assist the wounded at a dressing station and stuck to it for about 40 hours.  It's blooming hard work being a stretcher bearer in the  field. On Friday I was in a big bombardment and will say it was like a continual thunder and lightening going off.  As I write there are blooming big guns going off abut 50 yards away every few minutes. Don't I wish that all of us could get home.  Wouldn't that be great, lad,  there's a good time coming and I hope we shall all be there to join in."

Three weeks later George was dead, buried in Les Boeufs Cemetery, near Albert.

George Danson's Grave in the  Guards Cemetery, Les Boeufs, near Albert.

Copyright © 2010 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

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