Morecambe war hero finally gets the memorial he deserves

Susan Wilson campaigned for over a year to secure a gravestone for her ancestor John Toulmin, who died in the First World War, and has now succeeded. Susan next to the gravestone in the cemetery of Morecambe Parish Church.  PIC BY ROB LOCK 25-7-2016
Susan Wilson campaigned for over a year to secure a gravestone for her ancestor John Toulmin, who died in the First World War, and has now succeeded. Susan next to the gravestone in the cemetery of Morecambe Parish Church. PIC BY ROB LOCK 25-7-2016

A World War 1 hero has finally received a gravestone to mark his final resting place.

Private John Toulmin lay buried in an unmarked grave in Morecambe for 100 years after his death during the First World War.

This was until his great grand niece found out about her ancestor while researching her family tree and campaigned for a memorial stone.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission supplied the stone and Susan Wilson was delighted to attend a special dedication service at Morecambe Parish Church cemetery on Friday.

Private Toulmin was wounded in May 1915 at Ypres.

John then lived with his wounds for a year before he died, aged 19, on May 22, 1916 in a hospital in Canterbury.

His death certificate, signed by his brother and Susan’s great grandfather William Toulmin of Euston Road, says he died of a cerebral haemorrhage and ulceration of the intestine.

During her research, Susan also discovered John worked as a former member of the ambulance brigade, was employed as a baker with Mr Blakeborough of Queen Street and was a member of St John Ambulance brigade.

The son of John and Margaret Toulmin, members of the Toulmins who were an original Morecambe family, he lived at Back Pedder Street but while he was in the army his mother moved to Beecham Street.

It is believed he went overseas on February 14 1914 and during the war, saw his friend William Walls shot dead. Walls died on March 8 1915.

After he himself was injured, John’s family received a telegram to say he was seriously ill in Canterbury so they set off to see him but sadly didn’t make it before he died.

The body was brought back to Morecambe and there was a funeral with full military honours. Hundreds of people attended.

John was buried in the cemetery in a family grave with his father John, who died in 1899, and Thomas Hodgson, who worked for his father as a carter. Over the years, the grave became derelict.

Susan, who runs drama classes for children in the Morecambe area, said: “The Commonwealth War Graves Commission had to find out who owned the grave and now they have come to the conclusion that it’s mine because I’m the oldest living relative.

“I found it quite moving that I found out 100 years on from when he was wounded.”

The service on Friday was conducted by Methodist Minister Rev Eddie Sykes and attended by representatives from Lancaster City Council, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Royal British Legion.