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First World War postcard discovered

Villagers have told how a postcard sent to a First World War soldier being treated in hospital nearly a century ago was found by workmen fixing a village hall floor.

They said the card had been hidden behind wooden wall panels at the 100-year-old hall, which was used as a military hospital during the Great War, in Shepreth, Cambridgeshire.

It appears to have been written by a woman named Nellie to "Drum. E C Wolstencroft" of the 3rd Royal Fusiliers at the "Auxiliary Hospital near Royston, Herts" and sent in April 1915.

Locals say searches of military records show that Private (Drummer) Edward Coulton Wolstencroft, of the Royal Fusiliers, came from Edmonton, Middlesex, and died on July 7, 1916 - probably during the Battle of the Somme - when he was in his mid 20s.

Records show that he is remembered on the war memorial dedicated to missing First World War soldiers at Thiepval in the Picardie region of France. The name "Drummer Wolstencroft" can also be found on a village list of soldiers treated at the hospital in Shepreth, which is near Royston.

Villagers have left "virtual flowers" for Private Wolstencroft on a Thiepval Memorial website and they hope to trace relatives of the soldier and are urging anyone with information about him or "Nellie" to get in touch.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission records show that Private Wolstencroft - Service Number L/13456 - was 26 and serving with the 9th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers when he died a week after British troops launched their ill-fated Somme attack against German lines.

Census records show that Private Wolstencroft was the second of 12 children. Records also show that he was the son of Edward Coulton Wolstencroft and Annie Wolstencroft, of 40 Gordon Road, Lower Edmonton, Middlesex.

Mr Wolstencroft was a seaman born in Hulme, Manchester, in 1868, who married Annie Copper, born in Hoxton, Middlesex, in 1872, at Bethnal Green, east London, in 1888.

The postcard, which is marked "printed in Germany", shows a picture of a man, who appears to be a sailor, flanked by two women. Nellie writes: "Dear Teddy, Don't think I have forgotten you letter following hopeing you are quite alright love from Nellie."

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