Friday, 12 October 2012

Great news everybody - we've found Ern!

I can't believe it! Just a few days after my appeal for information about WW1 soldier Ernest West, his details have been tracked down by amateur genealogist Sarah Spink.
In last week's post I explained how family historian David Clark was keen to find out what happened to the uncle he never knew.
Ern and his childhood sweetheart Beattie married in 1918 after waiting for four long years for the war to end, but tragedy struck on honeymoon when Beattie died of Spanish flu.
Ernest and Beattie photographed
not long before tragedy struck
Subsequently Ern drifted away from Beattie's family - who hadn't approved of him anyway - and contact was lost. But David, who has kindly leant me the postcards Ern sent to Beattie while he was fighting in France, was keen to find out what happened, so we threw it open to readers: could anyone help find Ern?
After reading about the appeal on Twitter, amateur researcher Sarah was on to it straight away and, with some astonishing detective work, she quickly managed to track down records of Ern's later life.

She discovered that after Beattie's death, Ern moved from Surrey where they grew up to Littlehampton in Sussex where he resumed his pre-war career as an accountant. It seems he became well established and successful, Sarah found him listed as an accountant in the West Sussex 1922 Telephone Directory; she also found him mentioned in a small notice in The Times in 1954, as the appointed liquidator of a company.
Ern eventually married again in 1920 and two years later he and his new wife had a son, who also married and had a son. Ernest died in Sussex in March 1984 at the ripe old age of 92 and David Clark now hopes to make contact with Ernest's grandson. He was thrilled finally to learn what became of Ern, in fact 'mind-boggling' is how he described it!

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