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Finders honour Scottish soldiers who fell in “forgotten conflict” of Cyprus

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A celebrity heir hunter has helped an old soldier honour Scottish comrades who fell in the “forgotten conflict” of Cyprus.

BBC ’s Heir Hunters star Daniel Curran is working with former soldier Les Smith to track surviving relatives of the men who died in the insurgency that ripped across the island in the 1950s.

Supersleuth Curran has vowed to help Les in his mission to track all the families of the hero soldiers. The Cyprus campaign claimed the lives of 371 British servicemen, including many Scots, between 1955 and 1959.

Curran, who is also spokesman for The International Association of Professional Probate Researchers, Genealogists & Heir Hunters (IAPPR), said: “There is a great joy to reuniting family members, long lost, as it’s the ultimate way to honour the fallen so we’re delighted to help Les on his mission by connecting as many Scots in his regiment as possible.

“We have a team committed to helping and look forward to the positives that will come out of this.”

Former soldier Les, an ex Royal Horse Guards lance corporal, is on a special mission to track down surviving descendants. The former Cyprus veteran’s aim is to make the families aware of the Elizabeth Cross they are all due for their loved ones.

Great grandad Les, 78, said: “I have met with Daniel and he is very keen about what I am doing. He thinks its a great cause and it’s great to have him on board. I have managed to get information on about 60 different families but I think I have gone as far as I can go with it.

“I will pass on any information I have to Daniel and hopefully he can follow it up.”

High on the list of research priorities is Private Benjamin Doherty,18, from Glasgow who served in the Highland Light Infantry and was fatally wounded on October 23 1956 when a bomb exploded as he was playing in a company football match in Lefkoniko.

He died there some five weeks later on December 6, 1956. Two other soldiers from his Regiment were injured in the blast. Curran said: “We quickly identified the correct birth record in Glasgow for Benjamin Doherty.

“From this we identified his parents and confirmed that they had both passed away. From here, it was a case of locating possible birth records for potential siblings. So far, we have found seven leads.”

Curran has a passion for solving cases involving lost family members of British war veterans. His most recent success involved World War Two veteran James Douglas Knowles, 91, who passed away at Eastbourne General Hospital in March last year.

Faced with the prospect of no one attending his funeral and with no known next of kin, Curran stepped up to the appeal made by the hospital chaplain by tracking down Knowles’s relatives.

More than 120 people eventually turned up for his funeral. To contact Les Smith if you are related to the fallen or if you want to know more about the Cyprusveterans, email cyprusveterans@gmail.com or go to cyprusveterans.webs.com .

Source material: DailyRecord

This article also  appeared in the Sunday Mirror, download the PDF here