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Quest to find family of fallen Shropshire Great War soldier

By Toby Neal | South Shropshire | Features | Published:

He is gone, he is gone, we have missed him, his smile we shall never see more...

The memorial card to Private John Minton, who was killed in action in July 1918.

The poignant words on a memorial card remembering a Shropshire soldier who was killed in action over 100 years ago.

Private John Minton was 24 when he was killed in France on July 20, 1918, while serving with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He was the son of John and Emily Minton, of Mynd Cottage, Plowden, in the shadow of the Long Mynd.

At some point that card migrated into an attic, to be discovered many years later. And now Mrs Sharon Leach, of Shrewsbury – who is no relation to Private Minton and knows nothing about him or his family – is hoping to reunite it with his relatives.

"We've had it for years. It's in fantastic condition. My husband John found it in our attic when we lived in Old Wharf, Pontesbury, and we put it in a box. I completely forgot about it," she said.

"We've moved twice since we've been in Pontesbury. We have extended into the attic and I thought I would go upstairs and sort stuff out, and just happened to open this box.

"I thought 'blow me, I had completely forgotten about that.' I thought that if the family are still around they might like it.

"Thy Will Be Done."

"I have done a lot of family history myself and I know how precious a little piece of paper can be in your research, so some relation in the family might like it."

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Sharon, of Pengwern Road, does not know how it came to be in their attic in Pontesbury in the first place.

It turns out that a memorial to Private Minton, taking the form of a gunmetal plaque with gothic lettering mounted onto an oak backboard, was dedicated at St John the Baptist Church in Myndtown on September 12, 1920.

The inscription read: "To the Glory of God and in memory of John Minton, aged 24 years, Mynd Cottage, Pte Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who died for his country in France in 1918. 'Faithful unto Death.' Erected by the parishioners of Myndtown-with-Norbury."

On the same day a plaque to two other local fallen soldiers, 21-year-old Lieutenant Edward Harold Pinches, of White House, Asterton, and Private Charles Richard Jones, of Grove Cottage, aged 24, of the 10th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, was dedicated at nearby Norbury church.

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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