AN ASTONISHING reunion has taken place between a box of lost postcards sent by a Shipley First World War soldier and his granddaughter some 37 years after they went missing.

When Bradford Council religious education inspector David Jackson moved into his new home in Avondale Mount, Shipley, in 1979, the house was empty except for a solitary cardboard box in a dusty cellar.

It contained a treasure trove of postcards, photographs and documents written and collected by former resident Gilbert Tasker Mahony, including many to his wife and family when he was serving as a fitness instructor to troops in the Great War.

And at the weekend, thanks to a First World War website set up by Shipley historian Richard Coomber, the box of valuable memorabilia was returned to Mr Mahony's granddaughter Ursula Steel.

She travelled over from Sale, near Manchester, with her daughter Suzanne to collect the cards, writings and photos which had been left behind at her grandfather's old home in Avondale Mount after his death in 1978.

"I'm really so touched by the fact David has gone to the trouble of keeping them safe for so many years - and through three house moves," she said.

"And also a big thank you to Richard Coomber for putting the details on his website, which I spotted while doing some family research late last year.

"My daughter Suzanne emailed Richard and put all the piece together."

She said she had known her grandfather very well until his death in her early 20s.

"He was head teacher at Salts Primary School and that's the sort of man I remember.

"I knew he'd been in the First World War, but he never spoke about it.

"And looking at all the post cards it seems he had what you might call an enjoyable time."

Some 200 postcards portray a life spent travelling to different theatres of war, but his role in the Physical and Bayonet Training Staff meant Mr Mahony did not take part in combat.

The archive's long-time keeper Mr Jackson, now retired, said he was glad the owners had finally been traced.

"It feels like it's all going home, which is marvellous," he said.

"When I bought that house in 1979 it had been emptied by house clearers and yet this box had been carefully left behind on a shelf.

"Perhaps that was out of respect in that they didn't want to just bin it, or maybe thought it had been left by mistake and people would have come for it.

"It's great everything's now back with Mr Mahony's family.

Historian Mr Coomber said he was pleased to have played a part in that reunion and invited any people with local First World War stories to contact him at