Search for Sheffield family of wartime sweethearts after letter discovery

One of the letters from Sheffield-born Sgt Alfred Wilson to his fiancee Nora Tillson.
One of the letters from Sheffield-born Sgt Alfred Wilson to his fiancee Nora Tillson.
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An appeal to Sheffield residents to reunite letters written by two wartime sweethearts with their descendants has been launched.

John Williamson, 76, from Sidmouth, hopes to find family members of Sgt Alfred Wilson and his wife Nora, formerly Tillson.

One of the letters from Sheffield-born Sgt Alfred Wilson to his fiancee Nora Tillson.

One of the letters from Sheffield-born Sgt Alfred Wilson to his fiancee Nora Tillson.

While working for the Welfare Insurance Company in Folkstone in the 1970s, John found two letters written in April and June 1914 by Sgt Wilson to Nora, then his fiancee.

John's plan was to give the letters to their author's descendants, and this month he approached The Star to try to further the search.

"It has always been my desire to reunite these letters with the descendants of either Sgt Wilson or Miss Tillson, and to this extent with the help of others I have tried on and off for around 40 years to try and identify with the appropriate individuals to whom I might pass these on," he said.

"I have recently come into possession of information which tells me that Alfred Wilson in Sheffield in 1885 and in 1891 was listed as living at 64 Furnival Street, with his parents. He also had three brothers - Robert, Edward and Elis."

John Williamson.

John Williamson.

According to Sgt Wilson's letters, he was in training at Deepcut barracks in Surrey in 1914, and served with the Kings Royal Rifle Corps.

John's research suggests he married Nora in Folkstone while on leave in February 1915.

He was sent to France where he was shot, and was sent back to the UK to recover.

He then returned to France and was killed near Pozieres during the Somme offensive on July 23, 1916 - just 15 months after being married.

One of the letters from Sheffield-born Sgt Alfred Wilson to his fiancee Nora Tillson.

One of the letters from Sheffield-born Sgt Alfred Wilson to his fiancee Nora Tillson.

He is commemorated along with more than 70,000 British servicemen on the the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.

John believes Nora did not remarry and died in March 1973, with no remaining family.

His hope to find Sgt Wilson's descendants and pass on the 'very emotional and poignant' letters to them.

If you have any information e-mail johnwilliamson67@gmail.com.

Extracts from Sgt Wilson's letters:

"As regards the Hussars Dance, Well I have had my studying cap on about that this afternoon and much as I should like you to stay away from it, I have come to the conclusion that you had better go under the circumstances.

"If you don't go, Ma must not go either, I don't intend having you left alone in the house any more than I should at a Dance.

"In any case, if I know Ma right, I don't think she would go without you. No doubt it would seem very funny..."

...

"Hope you enjoyed yourself at the fair, you seem to have got good chums again with Clara, I wonder how long it will be before you are pulling each other to pieces again.

"As regards that man at the Electric Pictures, I don't see why the dickens you should feel small, the man was in all probability pointing you out to his wife as being Cpl Wilson's fiancee."

...

"It will be about August before I shall be able to get leave and I shall probably go to Sheffield so that it will leave me free to have my long Furlo (leave of absence) in F'stone.

"However, as things are at present, I don't think the funds will run to the luxury of a week's leave in Sheff, so I am afraid my dear sister will have to wait a few months before she sees her brother Alfred."