Are you related to Great War hero who died in action?

A curious lady is looking to find relatives of her great uncle, and believes Luton families may be descendants of the World War One hero.

Wednesday, 7th December 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th December 2016, 1:39 pm
Jeans grandparents, Mary Ann and Frederick Dawson (Alberts brother) . The photo was taken circa 1950, shortly before their golden wedding.

Jean Leech, 70, from Guildford, is wondering whether families from Stopsley could be the great or great great grandchildren of Albert Dawson, who died fighting in France on May 28, 1917.

The family history researcher is visiting the town of Arras next May to mark the anniversary of his death, near where Albert fought at Fresnoy with the 17th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, and would be delighted to make contact with any Luton cousins to share her findings.

Jean said: “The war diary of his regiment is quite sad.

“Albert was in the trenches near Fresnoy and the allies were bombarding the Germans non stop. The Germans retaliated and blew the trenches to bits!

“The war diary says ‘fortunately’ there was only one casualty on May 28 - but that was my great uncle - the only one who died!”

Albert was born in 1876 to George and Eliza Dawson of Lilley, Herts. In 1891 they are listed as living in the village and Albert, aged 14, has five siblings: George, 15, Frederick, 11, Elizabeth, 9, Frank, 6, and Margaret, 4.

Frederick is Jean’s grandfather - Albert’s brother - and the family trade was bricklaying, with Frederick unable to fight in the Great War due to a work injury.

Albert later moved to Stopsley, probably because his wife, Lizzie, was born and lived there.

Jean said: “When Albert died in 1916 he left behind a wife and five children, which is very sad. He is commemorated on the war memorial in Stopsley and on a tablet in St Thomas’s Church.

“Albert’s children pop up in 1911. There is Frederick Albert, 10, Gladys May, 7, Florence Mabel, 5, Hubert Frank, 2, and later on, we know from newspaper cuttings that he had another daughter, Marjorie. E. Dawson.”

Meanwhile, Albert’s brother, Frederick, married Mary Ann (formerly Phillips). They had thirteen children, one of whom was Jean’s mum, Alice, and sadly only Alice and seven of her siblings reached adulthood. Jean’s mum, who has now passed away, made ball bearings in Skefco, Luton, during the World War Two.

Alice married Harry Frederick Eggleston in 1944 at St Thomas’s Church, Stopsley, and the couple lived with her sister, Edith, for about a year before moving to Sussex, where Jean was born.

Jean married the late Roderick Leech, and has a daughter, son and two young grandchildren.

She said: “I’m going to tell my grandchildren one day - it’s important they know what our ancestors did for us.”