England

WWII soldier's family traced after Acocks Green will find

Private Gordon Heaton
Image caption Pte Gordon Heaton was buried in Normandy

The family of a soldier whose will was found at a lost property office 67 years after his death have been traced.

The will of Pte Gordon Heaton, of the Worcestershire Regiment, was found with a letter, dated 1944, informing his family of his death in battle.

National Express West Midlands found the documents in November, during a refurbishment of a Birmingham garage.

The soldier's great nephew, David Hall, 51, came forward after the nine-month search the family.

Mr Hall, of Halesowen, contacted National Express after coming across a BBC News website article about the appeal while researching his family tree.

Dusty shelves

Pte Heaton died fighting in World War II when he was aged 21.

The soldier, who was killed on 27 August, 1944, was buried in Vernonnet Cemetery, Normandy, France, alongside 15 members of his regiment, National Express said.

The firm unearthed the documents on "top of the shelves covered in dust" during a refit of the lost property office at its Acocks Green bus depot.

Christine McDaid, administrative controller at National Express, said: "I thought somebody's lost this and it's somebody's heirloom. I just think it's something that should go back to the family."

Ms McDaid's initial research involved calls to the Army and internet searches.

Mr Hall has collected the documents on behalf of his family, including Pte Heaton's 80-year-old brother John.

"I have only just started to look into my family history and to find something this interesting which has been out of our hands for several decades is incredible," he said.

"I am delighted to be able to take rightful ownership of this today on behalf of my family, most importantly my great uncle John - Gordon's brother."

Ms McDaid said the office received thousands of items of lost property each week, including hundreds of pairs of glasses and clothing, and the office was regularly cleared out because of lack of space and items are donated to the charity Cancer Research.

"This is an incredible part of family history and we are delighted that a member of Private Heaton's family has come forward," she said.

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