AN ACCRINGTON family have returned from an emotional trip to the Somme after discovering a long-lost family war hero.
Sharon Maud, 50, and her husband, Timothy, 54, of Queens Road, Accrington, were tracing their family tree when they uncovered a great-uncle who they never knew existed.
They found out about Gunner Arthur Aspden, Timothy's grandad's brother, after he was given old photographs from his father before he died.
Sharon said: "We had all these photographs but we never knew who the people on them were. Timothy's father never talked about his family."
The couple, who have three children, Bridget, 30, Ben, 24, and Dominic, 14, eventually found out Arthur was one of four brothers and had two sisters.
He died in battle on 15 September 1916 five weeks after being posted to France with the Royal Field Artillery and when Britain had won the battle of Mametz Wood.
Sharon said: "Once we found out he existed, we located his grave through the Internet. It's so sad that nobody knew he was there and that his grave hadn't been visited by his family for almost 90 years.''
Sharon, Timothy, and their youngest grandchild, Honeybee, six, spent two weeks in Picardy, northern France, and visited Arthur's grave in Danzig Alley Cemetery.
Sharon said: "The journey was very emotional. It's very sad, he was only a young lad when he died aged 30. But we both thought the war graves were wonderful and he has a beautiful resting place.
"Everyone was so friendly and helpful and when we said we were from Accrington everyone mentioned Bill Turner, who is very well respected for his work on the history of the Accrington Pals. We were delighted we managed to find the Pals' brick wall."
The family are still researching the life of Arthur and recently tracked down his niece, Edith Aspden, now aged 80, in Preston.
Sharon added: "I've met Edith twice now. She's delighted to have met more relatives and is now helping us trace the family tree with her family memories."