We’ve lost count of the number of coincidences and surprises we encounter through our work at Bury Archives but the reunion of two cousins, who lost their lives in France during World War One, will remain one of the most memorable. It began with a photo shoot to celebrate four generations’ family love and loyalty to their fallen ancestor, Albert Carter. Albert’s story can be read here and here and the resulting exhibition of images can be seen here in our search room. Little did we know that Albert’s story would expand to include another family member! And one, who with the help of social media, Heritage Lottery funding and the kindness of strangers, will never be forgotten.
Jennifer McDonough was the ‘stranger’ who spotted a small brooch with a WW1 soldier pictured on its front in a local charity shop. She bought the brooch, took it home and posted a picture of it on Facebook group ‘Bury Olden Days’ in the hope that someone would recognise the young man’s image. Of course it was a long shot, yet our Reference Librarian, Adam Carter, began a search through our newspaper images (3,000 of them extracted as part of our HLF project, Bury Remembers the First World War) to see if he could find a match. Within a couple of days of the brooch-picture being posted, Adam had identified the soldier’s image!
His name was John Nation and as the obituary informs us had a cousin, also killed in action, whose name was A Carter. The information was posted back into the group and Betty Chapman (descendant of Albert Carter) made the connection! Both Jennifer and Betty agreed that John Nation must be reunited with his cousin, Albert Carter, here in the search room at Bury Archives.
The story of the picture-brooch being identified captured the hearts of Social Media group ‘Bury Olden Days’ and generated 54 comments and numerous reactions – it captured our hearts too and we really enjoyed hosting the special get-together with Jennifer handing over the brooch to Betty. John Nation now sits beside his cousin, Albert Carter, in our beautifully lit corner display cabinet – if you are passing please pop in and take a look.