Susan’s ancestry linked to shelling

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AN AUSTRALIAN woman has returned home after a fantastic result in her search for her UK ancestors.

Susan Sharman, 65, travelled all over North-East England to find out more about her past which had significant links to the Bombardment of Hartlepool.

She told Family Roots: “I had some luck and found a cousin of my dad living in Tudhoe.”

The discovery of a relative took Susan by surprise. She admitted: “I nearly fainted. A lady phoned and said ‘I think I’m who you are looking for’.”

The woman was the daughter of Susan’s aunt Nellie who had suffered dramas of her own during the Bombardment of Hartlepool on December 16, 1914.

Family Roots reported a month ago on Susan’s arrival in the North-East to find out more about her ancestry - particularly relatives of Nellie.

Mother-of-two Susan, from Canberra on the Gold Coast is the great granddaughter of Bridget Corner (nee Scott), who died in the Bombardment. She knew, before she embarked on her trip, that Bridget was living in Dock Street at the time.

Bridget was killed outright by the German shells and her body was identified by her sister, Catherine Fidgeon. Bridget’s husband was George Corner who had three children, Alice, Mary and Nellie.

Half of Nellie’s left arm was blown off in the German attack and all three children were left without a mother and with a father serving his country.

Because of their tragic circumstances, they were taken into an orphanage at Tudhoe in County Durham.

Alice’s children included Susan’s father Frank who, it seems, was placed in St Peter’s home in Gainford, Darlington, when he was only three years old.

In 1926, and soon after Alice married Mr Westgarth-Cuthbert, Frank was taken out of St Peter’s to be reunited with his mum.

Susan knew that Alice had links to the Tudhoe area of County Durham and that her family began its links with Australia when her dad Frank left the UK in 1948.

But Susan was stunned and delighted to meet a relative on her visit to Tudhoe. She said: “We spent some lovely days together.”

We would love to still help Susan with more details of her ancestry.

If you know of anyone who could be a relative, contact Chris Cordner on (01429) 239377, or email

• The Mail is marking the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War throughout 2014.

A series of commemorative supplements will be published in the paper from April onwards with coverage continuing until the centenary of the Bombardment of Hartlepool in December.

If you have Great War memorabilia or a story about a local relative who served in the conflict then please contact our newsdesk on (01429) 239380.