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Saturday, 7 November 2015

Military Monday: The Danson Brothers Remembered

Few families could have escaped the tragedies of the First World War. - and mine was no exception.

Here is the first of three articles on the men in my extended family who died serving their country. I have written before about John and George Danson, but in this month of Remembrance, I am pleased to give this tribute  to them again. 

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

John's life was marred by tragedy as his wife Sarah Haydon Lounds died at the young age of 21, from TB, leaving a baby daughter Annie.  

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 would clarify the cause of death.

John Danson's Gravetone at Moorland Cemetery, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire
"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."

These were the words of George Danson (1894-1916), the yyoungest of the eight Danson brothers, who was killed three weeks after he wrote this letter to his brother Frank. George  joined the Royal Army Medical Corps.  I have written in some  detail  on his short life HERE  in "A Stretcher Bearer in the Field", helped by the discovery of his service record and family memorabilia.  George  died at the Battle of the Somme, on 16th September 1916, just a week after his 22nd birthday, buried at The Guards Cemetery at Les Boeufs.

My cousin Stuart at George's Gravestone
Poulton-le-Fylde War Memorial commemorating John and George Danson 


Military Monday is one of many daily blog prompts from www.geneabloggers.com
to encourage writers to record their family 

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