Handwritten message from solider is delivered to his relative after 100 years

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A proud niece has received a message from her hero uncle who died more than a hundred years ago.

A handwritten note from Private Alf Davis was discovered in an old visitor book at the railway station he passed through on his way to fight in the First World War.

The book is one of two slim volumes designed to record the feelings and thoughts of soldiers, and was unearthed in the archives of Peterborough Library.

A project to find out more about the lives of the 580 servicemen who jotted down messages was recently given a £9,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery fund.

Project volunteers are attempting to trace living relatives of the men. Through Private Davis’s family tree they discovered his niece Joy Coster, who lives in Milton Keynes.

Joy said: “I remember him as an uncle who was missing a leg. We did not know any of the stories, or any details of how he lost his leg.

The 57-year-old is pictured reading her uncle’s message with library archives maanger Richard Hunt.

She said: “It is amazing to see his hand writing after all these years. It is so perfect and neat.”

Her uncle was awarded the DCM when he rescued a wounded officer in Belgium in 1915. In the process he was badly wounded and had to have his leg amputated.

Before he left for the frontline he was involved in an unfortunate incident - and accidentally shot a colleague.

As both men slept, the button of Private Davis’s greatcoat caught the trigger of his rifle and a shot was fired which hit Corporal Arthur Rawson.

Corporal Rawson later died, and it is believed to have been the first incident of a death by ‘Friendly Fire’ in the UK.