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Quest to find precious missing photo of Chesterfield soldier 100 years after his death

Mark Parry at his great uncle's grave, Tincourt Cemetery.
Mark Parry at his great uncle's grave, Tincourt Cemetery.

The descendant of a young Chesterfield soldier who died just weeks before the First World War ended is attempting to trace a missing photo of him so he can be properly remembered, 100 years on.

Sergeant James Bradley, from Staveley, was 18 when he enlisted in October 1914 and 22 when he died of shell wounds in France in October 1918- a month before he would have been sent home to his family.

A notice in the newspaper (The Derbyshire Courier) alludes to James's death.

A notice in the newspaper (The Derbyshire Courier) alludes to James's death.

Now his grandnephew, Mark Parry, has embarked on a quest to find a photo of the soldier that was lost in the 1980s.

Mark, who lives in north Wales, said: “James was my grandma’s brother, and I remember her talking about him even now.

“She always used to cry. Her mum had died eight weeks after James’s death- from a broken heart, she said.

“She had a few items to remember him by- medals, a death penny. But the photo was lost upon her death.

“My uncle Jim has haunted me all these years. I never forgot him, but it wasn’t until the grand old age of 55 that I decided I had waited long enough. I had to find him.”

After some intensive research, Mark traced James’s grave at Tincourt Cemetery in northern France, which he visited ahead of the centenary of his death.

“On the four days we were in the area we visited every day,” added Mark. “Long conversations were had. I told him I needed his help to find his picture, and I promised I would find his parents’ grave and place flowers there to let them know I had found him.”

Returning to England and visiting Chesterfield, Mark spoke to council officers who helped him locate James’s mother’s grave in Staveley.

“There on the side of the grave under some leaves next to his mother Rachel’s name it read- ‘also Sgt James Bradley, killed in action October 4 1918’.

“Finding my great uncle’s name on the grave was like him finding out I had kept my promise,” said Mark.

“Finding his photogrpah is the most important thing now but any information would be gratefully received.”

Sgt Bradley, of 1/6th Sherwood Forresters, lived at 7 Hartington Cottages, which have seen been demolished.

He worked at Ireland Colliery with his father, also James, before war broke out. He disembarked in Rouen on June 29 1915.

He was appointed Lance Corporal on May 1 1916, promoted to Corporal May 30 1917 and promoted to Sargeant on August 25 1918.

Sgt Bradley saw active service on the front line during the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

During his service he was gassed three times and wounded twice – the third time proved fatal.

His siblings were Lilian Ann, Sarah Elizabeth, Rachel, Eliza, Arthur, Annie and Laura with Arthur and Laura sadly having died as children.

If you can help, email markparryhusky@sky.com