BBC Surrey George Cawood – WW1 memorial plaque in loft for 30 years reunites family

WW1 memorial plaque in loft for 30 years reunites family

A World War One Memorial Plaque originally discovered under an old shed in Weybourne, near Farnham in 1984 has been returned to its rightful owners some thirty years later. Coincidentally, this year marks the 100-year anniversary of the death of the 19-year old soldier it commemorates.

The search for the plaque’s rightful guardians has also reunited a niece and nephew of the deceased after heir-hunting firm and stars of the BBC’s Heir Hunters – Finders International – stepped in to trace the relatives.

Mr David Brewer discovered the plaque when he was renovating his house in Bullers Road in the early 1980s. “At this time I didn’t realise the significance of what I’d discovered,” said David. “I’d never seen anything like it. My initial thoughts were that this was a type of memorial plaque that dated back to World War Two. However, we put the plaque into a box in the loft and carried on renovating the house.”

David moved from Bullers Road ten years later and the plaque moved with him.  He came across it when clearing his loft in 2016. “After all this time I became curious to learn more about the plaque and the person it remembered.”

David discovered that the plaque, issued after World War One to the next of kin of all British and Empire service personnel who were killed as a result of the war, belonged to a Mr George William Cawood from Weybourne, Farnham.

George Cawood served as a private in the Hampshire regiment. He was killed fighting in the Mesopotamia campaign of World War One (modern day Iraq) on February 4, 1917. George Cawood is commemorated at the Basra Memorial in Iraq that commemorates 40,682 forces who died during the campaign. The memorial is now at the centre of a modern war zone. He is also remembered at the Hale war memorial in Farnham.

David wrote to the Farnham Herald to appeal for relatives, and this was picked up by probate genealogists – Finders International.

Daniel Curran of Finders International said: “We were delighted to be able to help David trace George Cawood’s heirs so the plaque could be returned to its rightful owners. We located a niece and a nephew of the deceased – Ms Thelma Barker from Guildford (83) and Mr Michael Cawood from Fleet (79) – two cousins who hadn’t been in contact since they were children. We also found six great nieces and nephews.”

Michael Cawood said: “My uncle died before I was born and although his photo used to hang in our house I didn’t know anything about him. It’s fantastic that his memorial plaque has been retuned to our family, and also that this search has resulted in my cousin Thelma and I reuniting after all these years.”

Source material: BBCSurrey