AN Upper Studley church goer is appealing for help in her quest to find out more about a Trowbridge soldier who died whilst testing new artillery during the Second World War.

Anne Coates and the wardens at St John’s Church have been searching for information about James Birkett after the Commonwealth War Graves Commission sent them a letter, in October, that he was buried there.

Through a great deal of research, the 76-year-old has discovered that Mr Birkett was born in 1887, that he was killed in 1942, aged 55, when an anti tank grenade exploded in front of him in whilst serving in the Fourth Wiltshire Battalion and about his family tree.

However, the Southwick resident is hoping that his descendants may still be living in the area and to fill in missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle.

“It would be fantastic if we were able to find out more information about him and even meet a family member. It is nice to know that someone fought for our freedom,” she said.

“We believe that in 1939 he lived in Bradford Road, Trowbridge, with his wife Ellen and daughters Eunice and Alice.

“Further searches on a 1939 Census, shows how daughter Eunice married George Applegate in 1941. On top of that we discovered a George Applegate was born in 1944, David Applegate in 1947 and Louise Applegate in 1952.

“We found a death certificate for Eunice in 2004 and we believe that George Applegate died in Firlawn Nursing Home in Holt in 2015.

“However there are so many things we do not know. Did he serve in the First World War? Where was he born? What did he look like are there any of his family about today?”

On November 11 last year, a small poppy memorial cross was place on the grave for the church’s Remembrance Service.

“He doesn’t have a normal white headstone like Commonwealth war graves do, he has a family one. I have a feeling that he served in the First World War,” she said.

“I have been fascinated by family trees for 20 years and I am so passionate to find out more about his story.

“From our research, I am not sure if he was actually a Trowbridge man but he came down here later on in life. If people can help with our search, that would be wonderful.”

To help our Mrs Coates, call 01225 712239.