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Woman appeals for help finding family of Second World War soldier from Bethnal Green

PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 August 2019

The cemetery of 220 soldiers is host to two remembrance services each year. Picture: Marie Jones

The cemetery of 220 soldiers is host to two remembrance services each year. Picture: Marie Jones

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A woman is appealing for help tracing the family of a soldier who died in a Second World War battle.

George Henry Carroll's gravestone in Valkenswaard War Cemetery in The Netherlands. Picture: Marie JonesGeorge Henry Carroll's gravestone in Valkenswaard War Cemetery in The Netherlands. Picture: Marie Jones

Marie Jones wants to find relatives of Corporal George Henry Carroll from Bethnal Green who was killed on the first day of Operation Market Garden on September 17, 1944.

Cpl Carroll of the Devonshire Regiment was laid to rest in Valkenswaard war cemetery in The Netherlands. He was only 27.

Marie said: "This year marks 75 years since D-Day and the liberation of Valkenswaard. It would be so nice to find the relatives of this chap and say, 'Do you know everybody is eternally grateful?'"

In May and September each year the Dutch village south of Eindhoven holds a rememberance service in a show of thanks for the sacrifice of the 220 British soldiers buried there.

Marie is appealing for help to trace George's family. Picture: David WilkinsonMarie is appealing for help to trace George's family. Picture: David Wilkinson

Operation Market Garden - which the war film A Bridge Too Far is based on - was a failed military operation devised by Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery (Monty), aimed at creating an invasion route into northern Germany. Thousands of soldiers and hundreds of Dutch civilians died.

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An adoption scheme, which sees individual graves looked after by grateful villagers, has been set up to complement the care provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Dutchman Han Maas has adopted Cpl Carroll's burial place.

"It would be wonderful if we could find some family members and put them in touch with Han," Marie said.

But the fraud investigator's search has proved fruitless so far. There is a possibility Cpl Carroll's mother's maiden name was Wotten and that he had two siblings.

He may have had a brother called Patrick Carroll - a soldier of the Royal Norfolk Regiment who died during the war - though Marie has been unable to confirm this.

Part of the difficulty in tracing George's family could be because during the 1939-45 conflict children were orphaned and the wives of the men who died didn't speak about what went on, Marie explained.

However, the 57-year-old mother from Leeds is determined not to give up, having discovered the grave at Valkenswaard of her uncle, Private Richard Lawler, of the Black Watch Regiment who was killed aged 19 in 1944.

Anyone who can help should email Marie at reew1962@aol.com or Han on maas@veteranen.nl

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