Monday, 24 October 2016

Discovering a lost soldier of the Great War .......... with a nod of thanks to facebook

Now it is easy to deride social networks and write them off as the preserve of the trivial and the vain but that is to ignore their potential for allowing people to showcase their talents in a whole range of artistic endeavours from photography to painting and much else.

Added to which there are a growing number of sites and individuals who share their research and are willing to offer advice, and encouragement to those writing about their family history as well as those wanting to tell the story of their community.

All of which is why my friend Tricia and I decided to make an appeal for help in finding out more about this young man who as far as she knew was an officer in the 16th Battalion of the Manchester’s and disappeared in July 1916.

There was a photograph, and a comment on the back and nothing else.

Given the date Tricia began with the Somme war memorials but drew a blank and so that was when we made the appeal through a blog story and posted across a selection of facebook sites.

And within a day Michael Gorman came back with a carefully researched set of comments and the suggestions that our young man might be George Hoarce Plested, who was a “Second Lieutenant Manchester Regiment 4th Bn. attd. 16th Bn” who died on July 30th 1916.  He was just 19 and came from Putney.

Now what marks Mr Gorman’s contribution off as special is that he didn’t claim the credit, quoted his source and carefully presented alternatives which I think makes my point about just how useful social media can be in advancing our general knowledge.

Tricia I know is pleased and has now got engaged in searching for our young man to put an identity and a story to the photograph.

Location; London & France

Picture; Unknown Soldier, date unknown, from the collection of Tricia Leslie, and cap badge of the Manchester Regiment courtesy of Paul Wright

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