In search of long lost wartime hero

West Lavington historians Lyn Dyson and Richard Matters are appealing for information about a First World War soldier whose name was omitted from the village war memorial.

The two have produced a book, Lives Remembered in West Lavington, which they are launching this Saturday at West Lavington village hall, based on the lives of the men whose names appear on the war memorial.

During their research, they found three men who should be commemorated were not. These names were added and Mrs Dyson managed to trace families for two of the men, but she cannot find any relatives of Pte Percy John Nash.

She said: “He was born in West Lavington in 1887, the son of George Nash, a general labourer from Devizes, and his wife Jane Warman.

“Sadly, Percy’s mother died shortly after giving birth, and Percy was sent to live with a nurse, Mary Smart, at 2 Romains Yard, New Park Street, Devizes. In these circumstances it was quite rare for the baby to survive, but with great credit to all concerned, Percy did.”

Percy’s father George went to live with an uncle in Swindon, where he probably worked at the railway works. He got married again, to Emily Carter, in 1895, and had two more children.

Percy went to live with his father and step mother. Percy’s half-brother was Albert Nash, born in 1896. He may have married Dorothy Burns in 1918 and had a son Clifford and daughter Audrey. Percy’s half-sister, Caroline, was born in 1898. Caroline may have married Charles Maynard in Basingstoke in 1922.

In 1911 Percy was working as a baker in the Rhondda.

Percy served with the 1st Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment, and was killed in action at Fresnoy on May 8, 1917. He is remembered on the Arras memorial, but has no known grave.

Mrs Dyson said: “Percy left a will, and in 1918 probate was granted to a widow, Sarah Annie Nash, of 73 New Park Street, Devizes. I have been unable to find a marriage for Percy.”

Mrs Dyson would like to contact any relatives of Percy. If you can help, call her on (01380) 813943.

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