Ipswich postie unearths Suffolk soldier's battlefield story
- Credit: Adam Simpson-York
An Ipswich postman has been using social media to reunite families with war memorabilia belonging to their relatives — unearthing handwritten notes from a Suffolk soldier's time on the battlefield.
Instead of tracing family trees back in time, and trying to find long-lost relatives, Adam Simpson-York builds family trees forward to find living relatives of soldiers whose war medals he has purchased on eBay.
The father-of-two and full-time postman recently bought a medal on eBay belonging to a Harry Rising, who was born in Long Melford, according to his service record from the First World War on Ancestry.
Using Ancestry he found a digitalised version of a handwritten note, which described when Mr Rising was shot on the war field — spending two days waiting to be rescued after a bullet went straight through his chest.
Using Facebook, Ancestry and the details around the rim of the medal, Mr Simpson-York managed to trace his great-granddaughter Sharon, who lives in Whitstable, Kent.
She was delighted to receive Mr Rising's medal back into the family to be passed on to future generations.
Speaking of the find, Mr Simpson-York, said: "The great thing about this medal is the story that goes with it.
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"Whilst using Ancestry I found Harry's British Army World War 1 Service Record. In it I found a handwritten note from Harry describing how he was shot on the battlefield.
"He says that he was hit in the chest and the bullet went straight through and out his back. He describes moments of losing consciousness as he waited to be rescued. Amazingly, he survived.
"It's amazing to hold something like a medal and know the story behind it, and not all medals have that sort of story.
"As he survived, he would have held that medal at some point, which is quite special."
Mr Simpson-York said reuniting families with war memorabilia is "rewarding every time".
"It can be neve-wracking as you never know how a family is going to react," he explained.
"It was all news to Sharon really, what he had been through. But she was really happy to have the medal back as her family didn't know much about him, so it meant a lot to them."
According to Ancestry, Harry Rising was born on December 5 1888 in Long Melford, Suffolk.
His father, William, was 29 and his mother, Margaret, was 31. He married Emily Esther Bodkin on December 25 1908 in Edmonton, North London and they went on to have six children in 16 years.
In the 1911 census he was a grocer's assistant living with his family in Newmarket and after the war in 1939 he was listed as a garage attendant living in Folkestone, Kent.
He was living in Manchester when he joined the Manchester regiment 25th Battalion for World War One, later joining the Royal Army Service Corps because of his injury.
He died in April 1942 in Bromley, Kent, at the age of 53.
Mr Simpson-York said he also hopes to connect some of Mr Rising's living relatives, so they can share some stories.
He said none of this would be possible without Facebook, which he uses to trace modern-day connections.
He has now reunited 12 families with medals and you can follow his progress here on his 'Medals Going Home' Facebook page.