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Every picture tells a story
1:00pm Thursday 21st January 2010 in By Hannah Bargery, Reporter
A KEEN genealogist has managed to solve the mystery behind a photograph of a soldier which has had her family baffled for years.
Maxine Speakman, from Great Sankey, took up the challenge to find out who the man was in the picture labelled only with the date ‘October 1, 1918’.
After four weeks of researching she discovered it was her great grandmother’s uncle.
During her archive research Maxine, aged 32, also found out the grave of the soldier’s father was just around the corner from her.
She said: “It was amazing when I realised he was buried at St Mary’s, I walk past his grave all the time.
“It was very lucky too because normally there isn’t a gravestone because the majority of people couldn’t afford it, so to be able to trace everything back to just down the road from my house was fantastic.”
Maxine, who works as a nanny, has been researching her family history as a hobby but would like to do it for a living one day.
Her search started with a picture of a soldier and the words ‘Rest in peace. Died October 1, 1918’ on the back.
She scoured the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website which lists the names of people who died during the First World War and managed to match the date of death to a man called Albert Barnard.
Maxine said: “It was complicated because his parents were from Warrington but he was from Suffolk.
“I checked through archives and newspaper articles before I could finally confim that he was the uncle of Ethel Marshall, my great grandmother, and that he was buried in France.
“I got obsessed with it once I started and couldn’t stop until I had solved who the man in the photo was.”
Maxine’s interest in family history began when her granddad died when she was quite young.
She added: “I had nice memories of him and wanted to know more about him.
“It’s a rewarding experience and the search has taught me all about that side of the family.”