EX-POLICEMAN Wayne Cronin-Woydat is man on a mission.

He wants to secure the funds to restore the gravestone of a Wrexham war hero, a pioneer fighter pilot killed in the First World War in a tragic accident.

Captain Arthur Henry Leslie Soames, 27, who won the Military Cross and the French Légion d’Honneur, died in 1915.

He was carrying out a ground test experiment at the Central Flying School and although behind a tree 90 yards away, a bomb he was working with exploded and he was hit by debris.

He was among the first pilots in raids on the Western Front in 1914 and it was stated that the impact of his death was such that the King wrote to his commanding officer asking about the circumstances of the incident.

Capt Soames’ gravestone is in the graveyard at All Saints’ Church, Gresford but the 93-year-old stone is lying down and is almost covered by grass.

“It is a pity really. He was a very brave man and being local his grave should, if possible, be restored,” said Mr Cronin-Woydat.

“I’m not blaming anyone for the condition of the grave. Councils do get a small amount of money for the upkeep of official war graves, but Capt Soames was buried in a private family grave which does not qualify.

“Like so many families of that time, members have passed away and there is no one to see to them so I am looking for help in raising the money needed for the restoration.”

Capt Soames served as a 2nd Lieutenant with the Royal Welch Fusiliers and then the 3rd Kings Own Hussars before being transferred to 4 Squadron Royal Flying Corp which was posted to France before being posted to the Central Flying School.

The Soames family lived at Bryn Estyn Hall in Rhosnesni and Capt Soames’ father, Frederick, ran the brewery in Wrexham, which eventually became Border Breweries, which was later taken over by Marstons.

The Soames family has links to Lord Baden Powell, founder of the Scouting movement, and distant links to Winston Churchill.

The links to the Baden Powell family led to it paying for the original Scout hut in Rhosnesni.

Mr Cronin-Woydat lives with his wife, Joannah, in Gresford.

His grandparents were from Poland and Ukraine and both were taken by the Nazis during the Second World War and ended up in Italy. Due to Stalin’s purges, it was unsafe to return to their homelands so they came to this country.

Mr Cronin-Woydat joined North Wales Police in 1994 and before his retirement served in Wrexham, Gresford and Gwersyllt.