A village memorial to those who died in the First World War which “mis-ranked” a soldier has been branded “appalling” by a relative.

Captain Robert Sandeman Gaisford, from Bulkington near Devizes, was killed in January 1918, aged just 22, after engaging four enemy planes in air combat.

He is buried at the Tezze British Cemetery in Italy, but has been remembered in his home village, alongside six others, through a village memorial to those who died in the war.

But the memorial has been heavily criticised by Robert Gaisford, a distant relative from Cardiff, for listing his ancestor as a lieutenant when the Commonwealth War Graves Commission confirmed he had been promoted to captain.

Mr Gaisford said: “There has obviously been a mistake but there isn’t any interest in correcting the details.

“I think it’s appalling because he lost his life at 22 years old and the least we can do is honour his memory with the correct bloody details.”

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The inscriptions on the memorialThe inscriptions on the memorial (Image: Newsquest)

Mr Gaisford, whose family was originally from Wiltshire before branching into Wales, first recognised the mistake when he was doing research into his family history.

He is now pushing for the memorial to be changed to reflect his namesake’s proper rank, and has received support from the Royal British Legion, but has so far been unsuccessful.

He added: “I’ve been in touch with the parish council and given them all the proof he was a captain… there’s no question about his rank at all but they don’t seem very interested, they don’t care basically.

“They keep asking me for proof, but I’ve given it to them, they’re not doing anything to correct the situation and it beggars belief.”

Bulkington Parish Council’s clerk, Hannah Becket, told this paper they are only legally responsible for maintaining war memorials, not for making changes to them, and that Mr Gaisford would need to contact the War Memorial Trust to fund any project.

Mrs Becket emphasised that the memorial is in “excellent condition”, and well maintained by the parish council.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: The Bulkington War Memorial

She said: “The Parish Council has a duty of care and is responsible for the upkeep of the memorial, which they take very seriously.

“The memorial is in excellent condition, is repointed regularly, and the grass is always cut neatly.

“War Memorials are not accurate records; they are a reflection of how a community choose to record their fallen.”

She added that the request had been discussed at five separate parish council meetings and Mr Gaisford had been informed of the outcome of these meetings.