THE grave of a Bradford City hero killed in the First World War is to be replaced, after City fans discovered the headstone bears the wrong date of his death.

Sergeant Ernest Goodwin died on July 21, 1916, after he was injured on the Somme. But his gravestone at Etaples - the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in France - has the date engraved as December 12, 1915.

The error came to light when Andy Tyne, secretary of Bus to Bradford, a group of City fans who commemorate players killed in the 1914-18 conflict, noticed that while original CWGC documents had the1916 date, this was officially changed - in 1988 - to December 12, 1915.

Bus to Bradford president David Whithorn looked into the matter. “Ernest’s records had his death date as July 21, 1916. The position of his grave within the 24 soldiers listed in the same row at Etaples indicated that he died between July 19-21, 1916. All this seemed to indicate that the CWGC initially had his date correct - so where did this revised 1915 date come from in 1988?”

It came down to what appears to be a typing error, in a record of WW1 regimental data. This mistakenly records Ernest Goodwin’s death date as 1915, leading to the original - and correct - date on his headstone being re-engraved in the late 1980s, when previously unavailable military records were released.

“The war diary of the 1/6th West Yorks battalion, which Sgt Goodwin served with, for July 1916 gave the sobering number of 200 casualties for July 1-2, when the battalion was in action at the start of the Somme - this being the likely action in which Ernest was wounded, to die of his wounds three weeks later at Etaples,” said David.

“Having gathered all the evidence, a case was sent to the CWGC. In a matter of days, they agreed this was sufficient for a formal change to Sgt Goodwin’s records. We also supplied additional documentation; his full name, age, his parents’ names, and that he was a member of Bradford City football team. This left the matter of the grave. The CWGC informed us that a brand new gravestone bearing Sgt Goodwin’s details and corrected date of death would be transported to Etaples. So in months to come, this Bradford City hero will finally be properly commemorated.”

Added David: "The CWGC is an excellent organisation caring for war dead worldwide. It does accept revised information, but only changes existing records when certain that a mistake has been made made."

Mel Donnelly, Commemorations Policy Manager at CWGC, said: “We are grateful to the member of public who spotted the discrepancy between our written records for Sgt Goodwin and the details engraved on his headstone. We are in the process of producing a new headstone for his grave to accurately reflect his date of death. More than a century after the First World War ended, our Commemorations team continues to refine the information we hold on the 1.7 million Commonwealth World War dead, whose graves and memorials we care for.”

Andy Tyne said: "It was difficult to be more Bradford than Ernest. He was born on April 7, 1894 on Picton Street, Manningham, before moving to South Parade, right next to Valley Parade.

"He wasn’t the most gifted of footballers, playing as a reserve for City and working part time at Lancasters Wool Merchants on Manor Row.

Ernest joined up with 1/6th West Yorkshire Regiment whose barracks were/are behind the old Belle Vue pub on Manningham Lane."

Bus to Bradford takes its name from French village Bus-Les-Artois, where soldiers stayed before marching to the Somme. In 2016 City fans raised £3,000 for a Bradford Pals memorial there.

* Andy Tyne is giving a talk on City players killed in WW1 at the Record Cafe on North Parade on Saturday, March 14 at 12 noon, ahead of City’s game with Leyton Orient.