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Son sows poppies on Arthur's Ashbourne grave to mark his service in First World War

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: May 02, 2014

  • Arthur Williams at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the Army. He survived the First World War and is buried at Ashbourne Cemetery, In Mayfield Road, where his son has scattered poppy seeds.

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THE grave of an Ashbourne soldier who served in the First World War should soon be covered in poppies after his son scattered seeds at the place where he is laid to rest.

Arthur Williams, who is buried at Ashbourne Cemetery, in Mayfield Road, survived the war and went on to work as manager of the Labour Exchange in the town – the office that was in charge of conscription for the Second World War.

Arthur died in 1963, aged 65, and his son, Gerry, 82, who lives with wife Margaret, 79, said that planting the poppies would be a good way to remember his father.

He said: "I wanted something really special for this milestone year and poppies seemed the best thing."

Arthur was born in Macclesfield, the son of an Army colour sergeant and the youngest of three children. He joined the Army himself at the age of 18, in 1916.

His attachment to the Small Arms Ammunition Column spared him the horrors of trench warfare, but his service on the front line in France was not without its dramas and he had several spells in hospital.

His descendants have gathered a collection of letters and his granddaughter, Kerry Williams, of Brailsford, has compiled them into a record of his war days.

For help decorating his father's grave, Gerry contacted a firm in Hulland which supplies floral features to councils after reading how it had sent 5,000 packets of poppy seeds to Suffolk.

He said: "I saw the story about Plantscape and went for help in getting some seeds. I explained that I wanted them for my father and they sent me some for free, which I didn't expect.

"It was very kind of them. I've sowed them around my dad's grave and the poppies will be very colourful."

Mr Williams recalls his father talking to him about the war while he was growing up. He said: "He travelled across the world and was stationed in France, Malta and Greece."

Gerry also wants to scatter poppy seeds on the graves of people who died in the Second World War. He lived near Ashbourne Airfield and was himself in the RAF.

He said: "There were many accidents over the course of the war and many people lost their lives. Soldiers, too, are buried in the cemetery and they should be remembered.

"There are many war graves in Ashbourne."

Mark Stone, managing director of Plantscape, said: "Having poppies around the cemetery for the centenary of the start of the First World War is a very fitting tribute."

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