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Appeal to find family of soldier who died after falling in River Severn

By Aimee Jones | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

An army veteran is appealing to trace the family of a soldier who died after falling in the River Severn nearly three decades ago.

Veteran Tony Jones is attempting to trace the family of former soldier and friend William Atkinson who is buried at Shrewsbury cemetery

Colonel Tony Jones, retired, wants to replace Sergeant William (Bill) Atkinson's headstone at Shrewsbury Cemetery because it has weathered badly since Sgt Atkinson died in 1991 aged 36.

The pair met while serving in Germany as members of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) in the late 80s and became good comrades.

He said: "Bill was stationed at Copthorne Barracks at the time. He sadly died when he fell into the River Severn around about Christmas time.

Sgt Atkinson's headstone

"I was so shocked and saddened to hear of his death. We had a very good working relationship as military instructors at Sennelager Training Centre he was a good man with a gregarious character.

"When I took over as the chairman of the RAMC Association Shropshire Branch last year I went to the grave and saw how badly weathered his headstone was.

"I and another member of the RAMC Association Shropshire Branch gave it a good scrub with warm water and washing up liquid but over time it has become badly weathered.

"Just by looking at it I suspect his grave has not been visited for a long time but as a branch we will continue to do so."

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Married with two sons

The RAMC Regimental Headquarters (RHQ) has stated that every effort must be made to trace Sgt Bill Atkinson's family before any changes can be made to his grave.

To date Col Jones has been thwarted at every attempt to find Sgt Atkinson's family due to the current GDPR regulations by the four organisations and agencies he has contacted.

Col Jones is aware that Sgt Atkinson was married to Inge and had two sons - the eldest was called Stephen.

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"His wife was expecting his second child when he died," he added.

"Inge was a German national so she could have re-married or moved back to Germany but we simply don't know. I have tried everything I can to to find them but have run out of options now.

"The RAMC RHQ in Camberley have stated that they are willing to assist with my aspiration of replacing or refurbishing Bill's current grave headstone providing I can prove I have done everything I can to prove I have tried to trace his wife and sons."

Aimee Jones

By Aimee Jones
@aimeejones_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's Shrewsbury office, covering Shrewsbury, North Shropshire and South Shropshire.

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