War grave honours

A FORMER WWll Bolton soldier is to have a recognised war grave in Bolton, thanks to the efforts of one man.

Keen Dearne historian Peter Shields traced the past of Gunner Edward Outram, and the MoD has now agreed he should be entered on the CWGC (Commonwealth War Graves Commission) Roll of Honour with an appropriate headstone.

Peter Shields’ curiosity was piqued when his neighbour, Iris Lord, told him the story of her uncle, an ex-miner, who had been an Italian and German prisoner of war.

“She recalled him looking like a skeleton when she visited him as a young girl at Fulford Hospital near York,” said Mr Shields.

He said: “I surfed the net, I asked the extended family to search for any information they could find and eventually the story began to unfold.”

The young gunner from Mexborough Road, Bolton, joined the Royal Artillery in October 1940. In August 1941 he was posted to the Middle East on active service, then in June the following year was taken prisoner by the Italians and handed to the Germans, Liberated by Russian soldiers in April 1945, he then spent two years and 309 days as a PoW, and contracted pulmonary tubercolosis.

He was sent back to the UK and spent most of his remaining time in the army at Fulford Hospital, which was a special unit caring for German prisoners of war with eating disorders.

Gnr Outram was discharged from the army on medical grounds in April 1946 and sadly lived for only seven more months.

Having gathered this information, Mr Shields sent it with official records to the CWGC, requesting recognition for Gnr Outram along with the other 18 war graves at Bolton-on-Dearne.

The news that his efforts have all proved worthwhile has delighted the family of the former soldier, along with Mr Shields, who has informed the Bolton-on-Dearne branch of the Royal British Legion of the new war grave.

He said: “I think it’s wonderful that after 66 years this young soldier is recognised as a Commonwealth war casualty. It involved a lot of work to get to this point, involving people who are scattered all over the country.

“I understand it is not an easy task to get this recognition and I’m over the moon that we were successful with it.”