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Lost hero looks for home

By Toby Neal | Features | Published:

This is a smile spanning 80 years from soldier William Henry Phillips.

All smiles – William Henry Phillips in 1939

Less happily, this photograph of him is now separated from his family – something Shrewsbury's Richard Tisdale is hoping to put right.

"It's William Henry Phillips and was taken in 1939. He was in the Royal Engineers, I believe," said Richard, who works for BBC Radio Shropshire and has a passion for history.

"There's a reclamation yard by the weir at Castlefields in Shrewsbury and I went in there looking for old items and got chatting to the guy who runs it. I said I liked to return things to their owners. He bought out this old photo which he had picked up in an auction.

"The man who let me have it at the reclamation yard grew teary eyed and let me have it for free if I could trace the family and find out what happened to him. He said these heroes must be remembered.

"He thinks he may have got it from a box in a house clearance auction – maybe in Bishop's Castle last year. I was so moved that I promised to help. I have a pretty good strike rate when it comes to tracing people and descendants.

"His name is on the back so it could be quite traceable."

The soldier has the two stripes of a Corporal and the cap badge is for the Royal Engineers. Handwritten written on the back of the photo, which is mounted on a hard backing, is his name William Henry Phillips, and what looks like "Nov 1939 in France."

The London Gazette of June 1944 records a Warrant Officer First Class in the Royal Engineers called William Henry Phillips – who may or may not be the same person as in the picture – being given a commission, to become a Second Lieutenant.

Anyone who can help Richard trace relatives can contact him through his blog newsfromthepast.blog or at richard.tisdale@yahoo.co.uk by email.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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