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Home   Romney Marsh   News   Article

History group's appeal for help in identifying unknown Kent soldier from the First World War before exhibition in Dymchurch on Romney Marsh

07 August 2014
by Matt Leclere

In the week Britain marked the centenary of the outbreak of that terrible conflict, Dymchurch and District Heritage Group (DDHG) is appealing for help in trying to find out his name.

Members of the group are hoping a special centenary exhibition of the war opening on Saturday will help to identify him.

It is hoped Dymchurch's unknown soldier can be identified

It is hoped Dymchurch's unknown soldier can be identified

Margaret Walker and her husband Colin have spent months researching ahead of the exhibition but this single soldier is proving a mystery – even after an appeal in the Kentish Express in May 2013.

Margaret, secretary of DDHG, said: “We haven’t heard from anyone about him and we’ve obviously been very busy ahead of the exhibition.

“He will be up there. It’s a complete mystery as to who he is. We did think someone might come forward when we first started researching it.”

One of the problems they have faced while researching the various stories is that most people today have never seen a photograph before of their relatives from 100 years ago and may be forced to call on the help of the Imperial War Museum.

Margaret and Colin Walker from Dymchurch  District Heritage Group have spent months researching the exhibition but have still had no luck tracking down who this soldier was

Margaret and Colin Walker from Dymchurch & District Heritage Group have spent months researching the exhibition but have still had no luck tracking down who this soldier was

Based on the mounting of the photograph on a black material background, a sign of mourning, it suggests the soldier did not return home like hundreds of thousands of his comrades. But there is nothing to indicate exactly where and when he died and with his unit or regiment.

It was donated to the DDHG by Margaret Smith, of St Mary in the Marsh, who grew up in Dymchurch and can trace her family in the area back to the early 1800s. She found the photograph among her mother’s possessions after she died but ruled out the soldier as being her grandfather.

The black background used often in mourning suggests the soldier never came home like hundreds of thousands of his comrades

The black background used often in mourning suggests the soldier never came home like hundreds of thousands of his comrades

Margaret added: “She hasn’t got a clue who he is. There must be a significance there with the way it’s mounted but we’re completely in the dark.”

The group’s exhibition will open on Saturday from 11am until 5pm and on Sunday from 1pm to 5pm at the Old School Room behind the Methodist Church on the corner or Chapel Road and Hythe Road, Dymchurch.

Entry is free with records of Dymchurch’s serving soldiers also part of the exhibition.

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