Help to find the family of First World War soldier Pte Percy Wood

Private Percy Wood is thought to be the child in this family photo
Private Percy Wood is thought to be the child in this family photo

The family of a soldier from the borough killed in World War One is being sought after a moving memorial to him was discovered.

Margaret Townsend found the small satin bookmark to Private Percy Wood, which was kept in a small paper folder, while going through the belongings of her late mother Olga Marton.

The bookmarks

The bookmarks

Other news: Borough gets extra £1.7m for road repairs

Intriguingly, though, when Mrs Townsend put the object on Facebook to find out more about his relatives Kath Stott posted a picture of a similar bookmark to Pte Wood in the possession of her husband Keith.

Mr Stott, who tours local schools with the Royal British Legion showing them World War One artefacts, also explained what the beautiful object was.

He said: “Because Pte Wood died abroad they would have had a memorial service and these satin objects would have been printed out and then handed out to everyone who attended the church by the family. They were bookmarks, used for putting in bibles.”

The marker Mrs Townsend has, which has the words “Fond Memories” on the cover, says that Pte Wood was the son of John James and Elizabeth Wood and lived at Platt Fold Street in Leigh.

Like so many other soldiers Pte Wood was tragically killed in the final months of the war, losing his life aged 27 in France on August 15, 1918.

He is remembered on the other side of the Channel at the Vis-En-Artois Memorial.

The memorial is dedicated to him from his father, mother and brothers and has a short poem written on it.

Mr Stott’s, though, is slightly different, as it is from a woman called Annie and has a different verse on it. He picked his bookmark up off eBay when a number of artefacts related to a local operatic society were being sold by someone in Bristol.

It is now hoped that someone will come forward to say more about the soldier and perhaps put Mrs Townsend or Mr Stott in contact with any surviving relatives of Pte Wood.

Mrs Townsend said she is not entirely sure how her mother, who was brought up in the pub trade in Leigh as her mum Maggie Mather had the Bull’s Head Hotel in the town and the Shepherds Arms in Lowton, came to own it. She continued running the Leigh watering hole herself before the family later moved to Manchester.

Mrs Townsend said she also discovered an old photograph with the memorial of a mother and father with a small child, believed to be Pte Wood, seated between them.

She said: “It’s very strange that there are two different things remembering Pte Wood. I wonder if Annie was maybe his girlfriend. It’s exactly the same as the one my mum had except for the poem at the bottom.

“I don’t really know a great deal about it, but I think my mum’s mother and auntie were friends with the family. My mum had shown it me before a few years ago when my granddaughter went on a school trip to the graveyards and she was going to see if she could find his grave. With it being 100 years since the end of the war I thought it might be interesting. Somebody might know something about him. It would be great if we could find his relatives.”

Do you know about Pte Percy Wood or are you related to him? Email newsroom.wigan@jpress.co.uk with any information.