Appeal to trace relatives of William Charles Gaskins, Stockton’s only First World War casualty

Stockton churchwarden Clare Seppings, by the graveside of Stockton's only First World War casualty W

Stockton churchwarden Clare Seppings, by the graveside of Stockton's only First World War casualty William Charles Gaskins. Picture: Courtesy of Clare Seppings - Credit: Clare Seppings

The churchwarden of a Norfolk village has appealed for help in honouring its only fallen soldier.

On April 19, 1918, Private William Charles Gaskins, of the Norfolk Regiment, became the only Stockton man to lose his life in the First World War.

Now, with Remembrance weekend upon us, and the centenary of his death approaching, Clare Seppings is hoping to trace any of his relatives as the church of St Michael and All Angels looks to honour him.

Mrs Seppings, who has already been researching Mr Gaskins' story - along with fellow parish resident Carl Crame - is hoping relatives of either the private or his wife will make themselves known, if any remain.

The church will mark the centenary of Mr Gaskins making the ultimate sacrifice with a special service on the closest Sunday to April 19 and Mrs Seppings would be delighted if any of his relatives could attend.

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She said: 'We are trying to find out as much about him as we can and the Norfolk Regiment, as there is so little information about him.'

Mrs Seppings recently travelled to Haringhe Military Cemetery in Belgium, where the private is buried, to pay her respects and said even his headstone revealed very little about him, not even bearing his age.

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She said: 'It was actually quite comforting to see just how immaculately all the graves are kept, although there is still the feeling of such waste there.

'He is buried alongside other men who died on the same day, all remembered with the same simple headstones in a tranquil, enclosed resting place.'

It was originally believed Mr Gaskins's first name was Charles - with C Gaskins engraved on his headstone - however further researched into his life revealed that to have been his middle name.

He married a woman called Hilda Randall, whose parents lived at Holman's Cottage in Heckingham, with Mrs Seppings also keen to trace anybody related to her. She remarried after Mr Gaskins' death and continued to live in Stockton.

Mrs Seppings added: 'He worked and would have had a home here in Stockton and is the village's only war hero, so the service will be our way of saying thank you for what he did.'

Anybody who may be able to help Mrs Seppings should contact her on 01508 518197.

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