Young soldier who died in the last battle of First World War honoured by Saffron Walden relative

PUBLISHED: 11:34 15 November 2017

Gary Morton with the plaque bearing the name of his great, great uncle. Picture: ANGELA SINGER

Gary Morton with the plaque bearing the name of his great, great uncle. Picture: ANGELA SINGER

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A plaque which has travelled the world, to young man who died in battle just 10 days before the end of the First World War, was included in the Remembrance Day service in Saffron Walden on Sunday, November 12.

The plaque, which travelled from Canada, was laid at the Saffron Walden war memorial on Remembrance Sunday. Picture: CELIA BARTLETTThe plaque, which travelled from Canada, was laid at the Saffron Walden war memorial on Remembrance Sunday. Picture: CELIA BARTLETT

Albert Morton had emigrated to Alberta, Canada with his brother William in 1910 and they each bought farms. But he enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force and died aged 19 or 20 the Battle of Amiens, a decisive push which brought victory over the Germans.

Gallery: Saffron Walden Remembrance Parade

The nearest village to his Canadian home, Padstowe, put up a plaque in the church to him and seven other men who had fallen. But when the church closed in the 1960s, no relatives could be found so the church warden carefully took down the plaque and took it home with her.

Thirty years later, in the early 1990s, Albert’s great great nephew, Gary Morton from Saffron Walden went to Alberta to research his family history. He knew that both Albert and his brother William (Gary’s great grandather), born in London’s East End had bought farms in Canada. William didn’t fight because he was declared unfit.”

Gary said: “I went into the church and it turned out to be someone’s home. It was very embarrassing,they were having dinner and I had just walked in because the door wasn’t locked. They told me that the person to speak to was the church warden.

“She said there had been no other living relatives in the town so she had kept the plaque in her garage and she gave it to me for safe-keeping.”

Gary, 57, a retired electrical engineer, who regularly attends the Saffron Walden Memorial Service, decided in this anniversary year of the Great War, he should take the plaque to the service. Over the years, it has travelled with him to Georgia, America, Belgium and Luxemburg.

The brass plate has the simple inscription: In memory of the men of this parish who gave their lives in the Great War. Then it lists them in alphabetical order: Leonard Hardy, Jack Hawkyard, Bert Morton, Roger Lewis, Cosmo Tindell, Sydney Woodger.

Albert never returned to Canada or to England. He is buried in Villers-Bretonneux in Northern France. Gary said: “It was good that he was remembered and that others were remembered. They were all people to someone.”e.”

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