Retired soldier buys bugle, finds it was used by his grandfather

Friday, November 19, 2010

LONDON - A 73-year-old retired British soldier bought a battered old bugle from a junk market. When he bought the instrument home and cleaned it, he uncovered the army service number of the original owner and was stunned to find that it was of his grandfather.

Maurice Green bought the dented instrument at five pounds and uncovered the army service number issued before the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916, that was of his grandfather, Daniel Clay, the Daily Mail reported.

On that fateful day, Clay, a 26-year-old, sounded out the charge as troops from the Eighth Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment leapt from their trenches. It was the first day of the battle and over the next few hours, only 68 of the men survived.

Somme witnessed one of the most brutal battles of the World War I and cost Britain 432,000 dead or injured.

Clay was killed and his body was never found among the thousands.

Retired engineer Green of Rotherham said: “I was in the army in the 1950s and I decided to go to the local market to look for army medals from the battalions I served alongside.”

“I spotted this battered old bugle on a stand. It was as black as soot but I noticed its army service number had the same first three digits as my granddad’s. I couldn’t see the last two digits because the bugle was filthy and covered with years of grime. But something in me started shaking straight away.”

“I just wondered if it could be the bugle my granddad played at the Somme. But then I thought that would be impossible, it was too much of a coincidence. But it was only five pounds, so I decided to buy it.

“I took it straight home, began cleaning it and was stunned when the last two digits corresponded to my granddad’s army service number,” he said.

“No service number was ever issued twice within a battalion and the five digit number was taken out of use after World War I, so it seems certain this was the bugle my granddad played at the Somme.”

Green, now a grandfather of three, added: “It is an unbelievable story and I think my grandfather’s bugle made the journey home after being picked up on the battlefield by one of the few survivors from his battalion.”

Clay’s name was one of 73,000 placed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme in France. His daughter Harriet - Green’s mother - was just six year’s old when he perished.

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