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The poignant story of how a First World War soldier’s belongings were re-discovered by relatives almost a century after his death have been revealed in a new book about the conflict.
Private Edward “Ted” Ambrose, the eldest of six children, was severely wounded while serving with the Bedfordshire Regiment during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. He was evacuated to the British military hospital at Etaples, 40 miles south of Calais, but died a few days later.
The hospital then sent his belongings back to his mother, Sarah, in Hertfordshire. She kept them locked away in an attic in a brown leather suitcase that, when she died, was passed on to her daughter, Margaret, and then to Margaret’s sons, David and John.
When John finally opened the case he found letters, a pipe still with remnants of tobacco inside, a brooch from the soldier’s girlfriend, Gladys, unused cigarettes, regimental badges, a French language guide to Paris and the campaign medals Ted was issued posthumously in 1920.
The family then shared its story with historian Dan Hill while he was researching his book, Hertfordshire Soldiers of the Great War.
Mr Hill said: “Ted was an ordinary lad from a sleepy village in Hertfordshire who simply did his duty. Whenever I go to France and pass by Etaples, I always remember to stop and say hello.”
Image: © IWM Art.IWM ART 2884