Marlborough cemetery clear-up reveals First World War link

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Councillor Stewart Dobson uncovered a hidden grave bearing his family name during a community clear-up project in Marlborough's old cemetery. (VS309) By Vicky Scipio Councillor Stewart Dobson uncovered a hidden grave bearing his family name during a community clear-up project in Marlborough's old cemetery. (VS309) By Vicky Scipio

A community clear-up project in Marlborough’s old cemetery turned out to be an emotional day for town and county councillor Stewart Dobson who uncovered a hidden grave bearing his family name.

The grave belongs to Thomas and Rebecca Dobson and their 37-year-old son, William, a gunner in the First World War who died in a German prisoner of war camp in 1918.

Coun Dobson discovered it while clearing away the grass so that the town council’s grounds and estates manager Richard Beale could strim the areas between the hidden graves.

He said: “It’s was quite amazing and moving at the time, especially with the commemora- tions coming up this year. You associate prisoner of war camps with the Second World War, but you don’t think of them in connection with the First World War, so it’s quite poignant.

“It was funny really because there were seven or eight of us up there and Richard said it was easier to maintain the old cemetery if he knew where the graves were.

“So I went over to one with wrought iron railings which was easy enough to uncover and then I went to see if there was another along the same track and that’s when I hit something and uncovered the name Dobson.”

After undertaking some research over the Easter break Coun Dobson discovered that the grave does not belong to members of his family, but he does know the other Dobson clan.

He said: “They were a Marlborough family who lived in Sun Lane, which is now Hyde Lane, and William had one son, Ernest, who had four children.

“It’s funny because I remember Ernest and I went to school with one of his four children, Wendy, who was the same age as me.

“But I haven’t kept in contact with her since we left school, so I don’t know where she lives now.

“My sister Rosemary went to school with one of his other children, Mary, who now lives in Devon and she is still in touch with her.”

Several town councillors took part in the clear-up operation along with some members of the public.

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