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John Barber: Search begins to track down family of Stoke Newington First World War soldier buried in Belgium

PUBLISHED: 14:19 29 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:19 29 August 2018

The grave of John Barber in Orcq, Belgium. Picture: Carly Morris

The grave of John Barber in Orcq, Belgium. Picture: Carly Morris

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An appeal has been launched to find family members of a Stoke Newington soldier who died in battle during the First World War.

John Barber is one of 16 soldiers buried in the cemetery of a tiny village in Orcq, on the west coast of Belgium.

Little is known about him, except that he was a private on Black Watch who died on October 23, 1918 at the age of 21.

The villagers launched a heartfelt plea to track down family members of all those buried ahead of its service to mark the centenary of the war ending.

The appeal was spotted by Carly Morris and her parents Christopher and Sarah who are members of the Royal British Legion down in Dover, Kent.

Over the last month the family has travelled more than 2,000 miles off their own back. They take Remembrance Day wreaths, which would otherwise be taken to the tip, and place them on the graves of “long lost soldiers” to ensure their sacrifice is remembered.

And last weekend they took the trip to Orcq in Belgium in response to the appeal.

Carly told the Gazette: “After all the wreaths are laid down they are bagged up and taken to the tip, which is very sad.

“We have been doing research on long lost soldiers because my dad found out six years ago that my grandad was a prisoner of war in Japan and Korea.

“We are taking poppy wreaths around Belgium, France and across the UK. We were in Scotland recently.

“Someone got in touch to say there were these 16 soldiers buried in a cemetery in Belgium who have no known relatives.

“We went at the weekend and laid a wreath on each grave just to show these brave men are not forgotten.

“Since then we have been messaging people trying to help raise awareness and find their families.”

The search has begun in good time, as the remembrance event takes place on October 20.

As it stands only one of the soldiers’ relatives have come forward to say they will be going over to Belgium.

If anyone knows of any relatives of John Barber they can contact Carly by emailing w.sarah38@yahoo.com. The details can then be passed on to the head of the event, Bernard Demaire.

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