James Purchase has shared this story of his ancestor. Thank you very much for sharing!:
A lost soldier reunited with his family after 99 yrs ! As a child my grandfather told me he lost two brothers in the First World War. They were both with the South Staffordshire regiment. I relayed this story to my daughter when she was in primary school and for a school project we set about researching them. After a couple of visits to the Imperial War Museum and National Archive in London we managed to find one brother Serjent Edward Purchase but not the other.
Research was more difficult in the 1990s requiring actual visits to archives and searches through microfiche. We did find a possible contender but couldn’t prove they were brothers. Edward’s mother and father were named on his Commonwealth War Graves Commission memorial certificate but the contender, one Private Richard Purchase, was not. It only had his name, date of death and regiment on it. Confusingly he wasn’t with the Staffords either. My daughter thought it was sad that if it was him he wasn’t linked to his mum and dad. I contacted the CWGC but they said there was nothing they could do as they needed proof that they were indeed brothers. This seemed impossible and we had to wait another ten years for the new census to be published to see if Richard did actually survive the War. We subsequently discovered he wasn’t on the Wolverhampton War Memorial website either.
The search went cold until this year I saw a note on a military website mentioning war wills. The carnage was so great soldiers were asked to make wills before going into battle. Sure enough my great uncle Richard had made a ‘Trench Will’ and had named his mom Mrs Jane Purchase of 67 Oxford St Wolverhampton as the sole beneficiary. His regiment number was on the will. The CWGC agreed this was proof enough and linked the two brothers on the 10th of October 2017. Richard is now, as the certificate says, ‘remembered in perpetuity’ as a Wolverhampton Purchase 99 yrs after his death. He was just 18 yrs old. He served with the King’s Own Lancaster Regiment, and died, probably at Ypres, on 24 August 1918.
I have a copy of his will and a photo of his brother Edward but sadly not Richard. There may however be some Purchases out there who do ……. maybe ? As a point of interest he was the uncle of the late Wolverhampton NE MP Ken Purchase.
Why the title? Mrs Jane Purchase had at least 4 sons in the Great War !