Descendent of Chesterfield soldier finds longed-for photo- and long lost family

Mark Parry (centre) with Nick Davis (left) and Robert Parry (right).
Mark Parry (centre) with Nick Davis (left) and Robert Parry (right).

The descendent of a Staveley soldier who launched a quest to trace a photo of him a century after his death was contacted by a long lost relative on the same mission thanks to the Derbyshire Times.

Mark Parry appeared in the newspaper in October hoping to find a picture of his great uncle, Sergeant James Bradley, who perished in the First World War aged 22 – just weeks before the conflict ended.

Mark grew up in Staveley listening to his grandmother’s stories about his great ‘Uncle Jim’ and had ‘never forgotten’ the brave young man who never made it home.

As the centenary of Sgt Bradley’s death approached, Mark managed to track down his grave in the Tincourt Cemetery in northern France – as well as Sgt Bradley’s mother’s grave back in Staveley on which the soldier is also commemorated.

But he desperately wanted to find Sgt Bradley’s photo, which had been lost after his grandmother passed away in the 1980s.

Now living in Wales, Mark wasn’t expecting to have much luck – but got more than he bargained for when Nick Davis, a cousin he’d never met, saw the article on the Derbyshire Times’ website and got in touch.

Mark said: “Nick, like me, had always remembered our uncle James, and had visited the Tincourt Cemetery himself 25 years ago.

“Our families had lost touch after our grandparents passed away.

Nick lives in Lincolnshire now but to mark the centenary had gone to the memorial garden in Staveley as well our great grandparents’ graves, only to find the graves had been tended by me with flowers placed.

“Nick was puzzled, so searched on the internet for Sgt James Bradley and found the Derbyshire Times’ article along with my email.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard from him. I phoned him straight away and yes, we were related.

Phone calls were exchanged all day along with James’ picture which Nick had saved.”

Wearing their great uncle’s medals, Mark finally got to meet Nick in Staveley on Remembrance Sunday where they placed a poppy wreath at the cenotaph.

The band that was playing was the Ireland colliery band, which was fitting since James had worked for the Ireland colliery before signing up in 1914.

“It was a very emotional day and we look forward to many more meetings.

“I believe my great uncle James had a lot to do with this and would very please with the outcome,” added Mark.

Mark would still like to hear from anyone who might have more information or photographs.

His email address is markparryhusky@sky.com.