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.
MY MOTHER'S TWO UNCLES
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
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:
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.
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
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
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 lifeHERE in "A Stretcher Bearer in the Field", helped by the discovery of his service record and family memorabilia. Georgedied 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