TWO weeks ago on this page, we appealed for relatives of First World War soldier John Tomlinson to get in touch.

John grew up on the same Manningham street as former Bradford City player Ernest Goodwin, and the pair died within weeks of each other on the Somme. Sergeant Ernest Goodwin, who served with Bradford’s 6th Battalion West Yorks, died on July 21, 1916 from injuries and Lance Corporal John Tomlinson was killed in action on September 3, 1916, following the 1/6th West Yorks attack at Thiepval.

A T&A report on a group of City fans who noticed that the death date on Ernest’s war grave was incorrect - leading the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to order a new grave - prompted his great nephew to contact us, with a moving poem by John, in Ernest’s memory, that had been treasured in the Goodwin family.

David Whithorn, president of Bus to Bradford, a group of City fans who commemorate players killed in WW1, discovered a link between John and Ernest in the Bradford Roll of Honour listing John’s address as Picton Street, where Ernest was from. The two men grew up a few doors apart.

Reported missing in action, John has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Mr Whithorn contacted the CWGC asking for additional information to be included on John’s records, along with: ‘Good friend and comrade of Ernest A Goodwin’, but the CWGC’s ‘families only’ policy left him appealing for relatives to get in touch.

Since we ran that article, Mr Whithorn has heard from Stuart Segar, whose grandfather, George Tomlinson, was John’s brother. “Stuart submitted relevant documentation to the CWGC and this has been accepted, so John’s details will now be updated,” said Mr Whithorn. “This is a superb result, not only for his family, but those who care that Bradford’s soldiers who lost their lives in the Great War deserve to be remembered properly.”

Mr Whithorn found a report of Ernest’s death in the Bradford Weekly Telegraph, July 28, 1916, which was followed by: “In a letter to the deceased soldier’s parents, a pal says: ‘I heard that Ernest was killed. It nearly broke my heart but shortly after the Sgt Major told me he was wounded by shrapnel, two bits in the leg and arm. Well, that was the biggest relief I have had in my life. If Ernest’s wounds are not serious, I will stick it with a good heart. He is the best lad I knew, he was the only one I could confide in’.”

“Although it says ‘a pal’ I think it safe to say this was written by John Tomlinson. I suspect he would have written his poem about his friend about the same time,” said Mr Whithorn. “There is also mention of Stuart’s grandfather, George Tomlinson, listed as a ‘bandsman’. In action the bandsmen were stretcher-bearers, bringing wounded men back, often under fire, to the Aid Post. With what he must have seen and had to deal with, it is perhaps no surprise that George, like so many others, said little about his war experiences to his family.”

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