Army veteran appeals for help finding family of Dagenham teen soldier killed in terrorist attack
PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 July 2019
An army veteran is appealing for help tracing the family of a teenage soldier killed in action to make sure they get the medal he deserves.
Les Smith has turned supersleuth in a bid to make sure the relatives of Dagenham lance corporal, Albert Robert Shaw, receive the Elizabeth Cross medal in honour of his sacrifice during a 1955-59 conflict in Cyprus.
Great-grandfather, Les, who spent 18 months on the Mediterranean island during four years of unrest, said: "It's important we remember we lost all these men there.
"It's important the family know that their loved one hasn't been forgotten."
From a newspaper story dated April 25, 1956, Les has so far discovered that 19-year-old Albert lived in Bromhall Road and died from wounds received in a terrorist attack.
The report states he was riding in a British military lorry near the city of Limassol before it was blown up and raked with gunfire in an ambush. Albert was the only person inside to be killed.
The former Park Modern schoolboy was serving with the Royal Military Police within the 10th Armoured Division Provost Company.
On the day he died his family back home received a letter from him saying all was well and he was happy.
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His fiancée, Verena Wilcroft, who lived opposite his parents' house, also received a message from her sweetheart. The couple was due to marry in June 1958.
A retired driving instructor, Les has been in touch with one man, David Tucker, who knew Albert before he went into the army.
But he didn't know much about his family apart from the fact that he had a younger sister whose name he did not know.
Writing in an online memorial in October 2009, David said: "Albert and I were neighbours and workmates from Dagenham.
"I have never forgotten his friendship. I miss the good times we had together from childhood. RIP."
Les, who served in the Royal Horse Guards in Cyprus, never met Albert. However, he has worked tirelessly to trace fallen comrades' families to let them know they are entitled to the medal.
To date he has found 170 out of 273 servicemen's relatives since starting his search in November 2015.
The St Helens resident would also like to hear from fellow veterans of the Cyprus Emergency.