A BERKSHIRE man has been presented with a medallion commemorating his great uncle’s sacrifice in the First World War on the 102nd anniversary of his death.

Malcolm Fletcher and his wife Julia travelled from Theale to Bradford on Avon to receive the medallion commemorating Company Sergeant Major Jesse Fletcher.

The 25-year-old died on August 9 1916 in the Battle of the Somme after being gassed with phosgene in a German attack on British front line trenches near Ypres Canal.

He is now buried in an unmarked grave at Essex Farm Cemetery near Ypres and his name is on the nearby Menin Gate Memorial.

The medallion is inscribed “From the Citizens of Bradford on Avon with gratitude to Jesse Fletcher 19 July 1919. On the reverse, it says: “For services rendered in the Great War 1914-1919.”

Mr Fletcher, 65, of Woodfield Way, Theale, said: “I was doing some research on the Fletcher family and came to Bradford on Avon in January looking for evidence but the museum was closed.

“My wife spotted a story about unclaimed medallions on the museum website. At the same time, the family research site Ancestry uploaded details of military records for First World War soldiers and it mentioned Jesse Fletcher.

“We came back to Bradford on Avon last Thursday to see if we could tie them up. That’s when we found out more about Jesse Fletcher and the unclaimed medallion.”

Mr and Mrs Fletcher came back to Bradford on Avon last week for the medallion to be presented to them by Cllr Simon McNeill-Ritchie and Bradford on Avon Museum chairman Mervyn Harris.

Mr Fletcher added: “It is quite emotional, particularly after hearing about the way Jesse died in a drift gas attack. Where he is buried now nobody knows but it is nice to have something by which to remember him.”

Cllr McNeill-Ritchie said: “We are delighted to be able to present the medallion to members of Jesse’s extended family, particularly on the 102nd anniversary of his death.

“This year, Bradford on Avon is making a huge effort to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War and the sacrifices people made on the Western Front.”

Jesse Francis Fletcher was born in Bradford on Avon in 1890, the second son of James Robert and Charlotte Fletcher, of 28 Ashley Road. His elder brother, Alfred Henry Fletcher, was born in the Dog & Fox pub.

He worked as a farm labourer before enlisting in the Army on September 15 1908 when he was only 18 years old. He joined the 1st Battalion, the Rifle Brigade, at Winchester three days later.

He was sent to France shortly after the outbreak of war on August 23 1914 but was wounded on the Western Front on April 26 1915. After a short stay in hospital, he rejoined his unit on May 7.

At the beginning of August 1916, the 1st Battalion, the Rifle Brigade were occupying front line positions along the banks of the Ypres Canal.

On the night of August 8/9, the Rifle Brigade were relieving the Somerset Light Infantry when the German forces delivered a lethal phosgene gas attack.

With the trenches crowded with men from both the 1st Rifle Brigade and the Somerset Light Infantry, the attack resulted in heavy losses.

The 1st Rifle Brigade alone suffered some 120 casualties, of which 50 died. Jesse Fletcher was one of those injured in the attack and died on August 9 as a result of the gassing.

Because no-one knows where he is buried, his name was missed off the Bradford on Avon War Memorial in Westbury Gardens.

Nor is it on the town council’s own roll of honour, or the rolls of honour in Holy Trinity Church. The town council is now exploring whether his name can be added to the war memorial if there is sufficient room for them to do so.

Anyone who has a military ancestor who fought in the First World War should look on the Bradford on Avon Museum website http://www.bradfordonavonmuseum.co.uk/ for the names of the 14 people whose medallions are still unclaimed.