A SEARCH has been launched to track down any relatives of a Worcester soldier killed in the First World War when serving with the Honourable Artillery Company.

Aubrey Moore Beck, a 2nd Lieut in the HAC, was the 24-years-old son of Mrs E A Beck and the late Thomas Beck of 32 Ombersley Road, when he died on May 15, 1917, during a battle at Bullecourt, near Arras in North France.

He was among more than 40 British soldiers to perish in the firefight and the quest to find his descendants is being led by Chris Elphick, who lives near Heathfield in East Sussex and is the grandson of another to die that day.

Mr Elphick explained: "In 2013, my family attended the burial with full military honours in France of my grandfather Christopher Douglas Elphick, who was killed in 1917. However his remains were only discovered in a farmer’s field and identified in 2011, together with an officer, Lt Pritchard, and two other soldiers from HAC, who had not been identified but were also buried and included in the very formal ceremony, held fittingly on St George’s Day 2013. Sadly, 39 other HAC soldiers went missing presumed dead at Bullecourt on May 15, 1917 and one of those was 2nd Lieut. Aubrey Moore Beck, whose widowed mother lived in Ombersley Road, Worcester. It is sad to think of the poor lady losing her young son after having also been widowed and one hopes that there were other friends and relatives in the area at that time to support her.

"I have sent letters to all the last known, now a century old, addresses that appear on the army records, but without any useful feedback. Unfortunately there seems to have been no updateable mechanism for descendants of such soldiers to leave their details so that they could be contacted if their relatives were ever found.

"However, it now seems there is slightly more possibility that 2nd Lieut Beck might be one of the two others found and that has encouraged me to make further attempts to find any relatives. I don’t know how many Becks there are in the Worcester area or whether they’ve been a close-knit group who have tended to stay in the same locality Probably I suspect less likely these days, but who knows?

"I know I may be clutching at straws, but I feel I should make every effort possible so that the two soldiers are identified (a relative may apparently be able to provide genetic evidence to establish this) and relatives will then know where they are buried and I could provide plenty of other background information.

"I have discovered that the name of Aubrey Beck's mother was Eliza Alice (nee Moore) and she lived in Worcester with her spinster daughter Dorothy until they both died in 1937. Aubrey also had a brother Cyril, who was a colour manufacturer and lived until 100 and died in 1987. He married Nancy Violet (nee Griffiths) who died in 1998. I believe they had a son and daughter and at least one grandchild and I think these are the people I’m most interested in finding."

Any relative of the Beck family who could help Chris Elphick in his research can contact him via Elphicks@outlook.com