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Friday, 11 November 2011

Military Monday - A Family in War Remembered

Few families could have escaped the tragedies of the First World War. - and mine was no exception.
My Mother's Uncles

John Danson (1879-1917)  was the second of eight surviving  sons of James Danson (1852-1906) and Maria Rawcliffe (1859-1919) of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.   

Something of a mystery surrounds John's  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 war memorial in St. Chad's Church  below the name of his youngest brother George Danson. 

I have a distinct memory of my mother's cousin, (John's niece) telling me  about 12 years ago that John had committed suicide as a prisoner of war.

This was a puzzle, as John was buried in Poulton Cemetery which did not seem possible if he died in Germany.  Nor could I trace any records for World War One prisoners of war. 
John's death was recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website  but no details given as to circumstances,  and other World War One sites on casualties and service records failed to provide any information.
A local historian researching the names on Poulton War Memorial found that John had died at Tidworth Hospital.  whilst training at army camp without having served  abroad.   

The local paper  "The Gazette News" of 25th May 1917 reported:
"Gunner John Danson, RFA, who has died in Tidworth Hospital, Hanpshire, was interred in the Poulton Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon.  The deceased soldier who lived at 2 Bull Street, Poulton has been in H.M. forces  nine months.  He was formerly a postman and steward at the Poulton Institute.  Three of his brothers are still serving with the forces, two in France and one in Malta, and another the youngest was killed eight months ago".
Because John had not served abroad, he was not entitled to any medals.

So the "prisoner of war story" proved incorrect.  Had I assumed the POW context from hearing the word "camp" - I will never know.   So far I have not gone down the route of obtaining a death certificate which wpuld clarify the cause of death.

George Danson, the youngest of the eight brother was in the Royal Army Medical Corps,  a stretcher bearer in the field and died at the Battle of the Somme, a week after his 22nd  birthday.  I have written about him in some detail previously on my blog. 


For more stories of my family in war, see the postings
under the tag (to the right of the screen) on War and Remembrance

1 comment:

  1. Susan, what a remarkable service history for your family. So much sadness and tragedy there as well as the inspiration of survival and bravery.


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