UK

World War 1 Soldier, George Samuel's Relative Fights To Have Name Spelt Correctly On Memorial

07/04/2013 12:55 BST

A retired doctor is fighting to have her great uncle's name spelled correctly on a village memorial nearly a century after he was killed in France at the age of 20 during the First World War.

Alison Corfield says the mis-spelling of Private George Samuel's name as "Samuels" on the memorial at Shepreth, Cambridgeshire, caused "great distress" to his parents after the 1914-18 conflict ended.

She says authorities refused to correct the mistake after the memorial was erected and Private Samuel's family had tried to hide the extra "s" by covering it with mud.

the somme

The battle of the Somme claimed over 1 million casualties

Mrs Corfield, 67, of Shrewsbury, Shropshire, hopes that the "wrong can be righted" as Britain prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of hostilities.

She has written to local councillors in Shepreth asking for the spelling to be changed.

Shepreth Parish Council says it is "actively pursuing" the issue and will have discussions at a meeting later this month.

And a county councillor who represents Shepreth says there could not be a more "fitting time" to change the spelling.

"The inscription of 'Samuels' on the war memorial is incorrect with the extra 's'," said Mrs Corfield.

"This caused the family a lot of distress after the war and the authorities refused to alter it. The family tried to cover the extra 's' with mud."

She added: "I'd like to get the wrong righted. It would mean be a lot to me and my family and I think it would appropriate as the centenary approaches. I doubt it can too difficult to hide or erase the extra letter.

"We are not talking about one letter or a spelling mistake. We are talking about a young soldier who died in the First World War. Someone's son.

"His name was George Samuel not George Samuels. I think it matters that George Samuel's sacrifice is remembered. And I think the mistake should be put right."

Mrs Corfield said Private Samuel was a soldier in the London Regiment. She thinks that he fought in the Battle of the Somme - which began in July 1916.

"He was killed on September 30 1916. He died of wounds and is buried at St Pierre cemetery in Amiens," said Mrs Corfield.

"There is a family story that when he joined up he said: 'I'm going now and I don't expect to be back.'"

Shepreth Parish Council clerk Charles Cook said he had received a letter from Mrs Corfield and the issue was on the agenda for the next parish council meeting on April 11.

Mr Cook said: "We are actively pursuing getting this changed for her."

Susan van de Ven, a Liberal Democrat member of Cambridgeshire County Council who represents Shepreth and surrounding villages, said she thought that locals would empathise with Mrs Corfield's fight.

"The names inscribed on the Shepreth war memorial are familiar to all who pass by it every day, and I knew George's name when I first heard this story. As in villages everywhere, the young men lost have not been forgotten," she said.

"Shepreth villagers I'm sure will empathise with George Samuel's family's wish and there could not be a more fitting time to put things right."

Shepreth village hall was turned into a military hospital during the First World War.

Villagers plan to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of war by planting poppies at Shepreth rail station. Mrs van de Ven, who is organising the project, has launched an appeal for poppy seeds.

In late 2010 a carpenter found a 1915 postcard, written to a wounded soldier being treated at the hospital, behind a wall panel in the village hall.

And scores of photographs showing Great War soldiers in and around the hall can be seen on a local history website - www.oldshep.co.uk