Family’s delight as 90-year search ends

FOUND: Kenneth Dunn and Sylvia Frost
FOUND: Kenneth Dunn and Sylvia Frost

IT’S been 90 years since a member of Alfred Dunn’s family has got to see a memento which is of massive importance to his relatives. But the search is over and that’s partly down to Family Roots. We helped re-unite war hero Alfred’s relatives with the medal he so valiantly earned. Chris Cordner reports.

THE nicest stories are the ones with a happy ending.

That’s exactly what happened to Kenneth Dunn and his sister Sylvia Frost.

It has been 21 months since we first told their story. The brother and sister were hoping to find out more about their great uncle, Alfred Dunn who was killed in action in July 1918.

We featured their plea in January 2012 and we’ve had success.

A delighted Kenneth, 62, a retired teacher of art at Brierton School, in Hartlepool, and now from Billingham, contacted us recently to say a military collector spotted the article.

“Although he didn’t have a photograph of Alfred, he did own his memorial plaque and medals. We have seen them and held them, the first in our family to see them since our father was a young boy in the 1920s.”

Kenneth has now published a 130-page book on his uncle with the help of Connoisseur Crafts, “a lovely family company in Hartlepool,” said Kenneth.

He and Sylvia spent over a year on research on Alfred, a First World War hero who attacked a machine gun post in France.

He was a raw 18-year-old when he enlisted with the 18th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry.

But on July 18, 1918, just two weeks after he arrived on the Western Front, he was called into the thick of First World War action.

Alfred and his battalion attacked German positions at Plate Becque at Vieux Berquin. Every man, except one officer, was wiped out by the enemy.

Fighting was so intense that Alfred’s body remained on the battlefield, said Kenneth.

Back in 2012, Kenneth told us that Alfred had no known grave. He hoped that his remains might have been taken to the nearby Aval Wood Military Cemetery on the edge of Nieppe Forest where there are 155 unidentified burials.

Kenneth and Sylvia got copies of documents including the instructions for the battalion’s attack that day. They also got the reports which were sent back from the battlefield by officers.

They even got copies of Alfred’s safety record, enlistment papers, and casualty records.

And now they have come face-to-face with the very proof that their relative was a true hero.

Alfred’s story, A West Hartlepool Story, No Known Grave, is now published. And while it is not on general sale, Kenneth is hoping to find other relatives that he can give a copy to.

He said: “Alfred’s brothers were George, Jack, Richard, and Arthur born 1903. His sister was called Miriam Beedle or Beadle.

“We have traced and contacted most of Arthur Dunn’s living sons/grandchildren, but not all.”

If you think you could be a relative contact us on the numbers below and we’ll pass the information on to Kenneth.