Chance discovery reveals the shocking scale of one family’s wartime sacrifice.
PUBLISHED: 12:24 08 January 2014 | UPDATED: 12:39 08 January 2014
A chance discovery has helped shed light on the startling sacrifice of Littleport man Ian McGee’s family in the First World War.
A colleague of Mr McGee’s was about to throw out a collection of old coins and documents some 30 years ago when he stepped in and spared them from the rubbish heap.
Entirely unbeknownst to him - on a small piece of paper folded up with the coins - was a list of all the men from the village of Stuntney who had been killed fighting in the war, including four of Mr McGee’s great uncles.
He said: “There was a young bloke who I worked with who had a collection of old coins and papers and he was going to throw them all away because he had no use for them.
“I happened to spot him and I said ‘you can’t do that’ and I took them home. It was pure chance that my uncles happened to be on that piece of paper, which was folded up very small.”
And, with the 100-year anniversary of the start of the conflict, Mr McGee, 59, thought it a poignant time to share his discovery and perhaps find out more about the sacrifice of his family.
On the scrap of fragile paper is a list of 14 men from Stuntney who died in the war, including Mr McGee’s four great uncles, three of whom died on one day.
They were; Thomas Parker McGee, of the Cambridgeshire Regiment, who was wounded on October 9 and died October 12, 1916.
Bert Parker McGee, of the Suffolks, who was killed in action on October 12, 1916.
James Parker McGee, of the Suffolks, who was killed in action on October 12, 1916 and Edward Parker McGee, of the Northamptonshire Regiment, who died on August 9, 1917.
According to www.firstworldwar.com, on October 12, 1916, on the Western Front, the British attacked on four-mile front between Eaucourt and Bapume-Peronne road, in France. The line advanced 500 to 1,000 yards.
It is unknown whether any of Mr McGee’s uncles was involved in this particular battle.
Perhaps fortunately for Mr McGee, his grandfather – William McGee – was too young to serve in the army and did not join his brothers in the conflict.
Mr McGee’s father - Bertie McGee – was a member of the Black Watch and his uncle - Bill Mufitt - was a paratrooper and both would later serve in the Second World War.