A CHORISTER has spoken of the emotional moment he laid a wreath in memory of his uncle, who went missing during the First World War.
Brymbo Male Voice Choir member Syd Piper recently visited Tyne Cot Cemetery, close to the Passchendaele battlefield in Belgium, where he laid a wreath for the first time for his uncle Edward (Ted) Piper.
Syd had never met his uncle Ted but found his name on an epitaph at the cemetery entirely by chance during a previous visit with the choir in 2004.
Ted was reported missing in action, presumed dead at the age of 23, not long after posting to the Belgian province of Ypres.
Mr Piper, who lives in Bradley with his wife Valerie Anne, told the Leader last week: “It was the first time that I went there during one of the choir tours I found my uncle’s name on the epitaph.
“All I knew was that he went missing in Ypres. When we visited Tyne Cot cemetery it was the wife of one of the other choristers that pointed it out to me.
“It knocked me for six – he was listed as E. Piper and when I realised it was under the Yorks and Lancs Regiment I knew.”
Mr Piper’s most recent visit to the cemetery was part of Brymbo Male Choir’s tour through France, Germany and Belgium performing for audiences in a number of towns as well as the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate as part of the commemoration of 100th anniversary of the battles around Ypres.
Stopping at Tyne Cot Cemetery, Mr Piper was able to lay a commemorative poppy wreath as the choir sang the Rev Eli Jenkins’ Evening Prayer from Under Milk Wood.
Mr Piper, who has two children, added: “I didn’t know my uncle but it was a very emotional moment.
“I’m almost certain it is the last time I’ll visit the cemetery now because I’m getting on for 82, but the experience was very moving.”
Ted Piper, the youngest brother of Syd’s father Ernest, was born and raised in County Durham and signed up for service with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Regiment.
Wartime family separations meant that no further detail was ever provided to Syd’s father, who was a Merchant Seaman throughout
Syd Piper has served more than 40 years with Brymbo Male Choir variously as chairman, secretary, registrar and treasurer and continues to enjoy all choral activities.
Choir spokesman Mike Taylor said the successful tour – which proceeded under the leadership of musical director Shirley Newman – is typical of Brymbo Male Choir planning by stage manager Mel Jones, ably assisted by Carl Jones.
The choir practices weekly on Wednesdays at Tanyfron School from 7.30pm and visitors are welcome.