The THIRTY strong family of a WWI hero from Wrexham have gone on a pilgrimage to his final resting place.

The family, who met up in Ypres, on May 25, had travelled from as far a field as Llay to Australia to pay their respects and learn of the fate of their relative, Thomas Samuel Williams, who was born on June 5 1897 and lived with his parents Griffith and Elizabeth Williams in Summer Hill, Gwersyllt.

Michael Garnett, 51, who is from the Wrexham area but now lives on Anglesey, said he first heard stories about his great uncle from his mother Dorothy and it was thought he was one of many unknown soldiers who had been declared missing in action on April 25 1918.

Mr Garnett, a keen historian, had been researching his great uncle since 2004 and discovered that shortly after completing his basic training, Private (Pte) Williams transferred to the newly formed Machine Gun Corps (MGC).

He said: "The MGC had priority with recruiting from line regiments, which was unpopular with senior officers as they were taking the fittest and the best to meet the demand for ever more intelligent young men to man the guns.

"He was sent to the machine gun training centre at Belton Park, Lincolnshire and allocated the number 36812."

The research also uncovered that in 1916, Pte Williams was sent to A Company 9th Battalion The Machine Gun Corps attached to 9th Scottish division, which saw action at all the major battles during the war (Loos, Arras, Somme, Delville Wood, Cambrai, Passchendaele).

Pte Williams occupied a Machine Gun Position as part of a team of six men in the area of St Eloi, (known as Piccadilly Farm on British maps) and in the early hours of April 25, came under attack by German infantry.

Mr Garnett said: "It is believed that Thomas was wounded and captured at this point.

"In a German diary this position was secured at 2030 hrs, some 16 hours of engagement, and the Germans could not advance any further due to the late time in the day and used Piccadilly Farm as a Battalion HQ."

Mr Garnett's research has since led to the confirmation that his great uncle died as a result of a gunshot wound to the lung, but that he didn't die on April 25, as previously suspected.

"I received information from the International Committee of the Red Cross from their archives that revealed he died of his wounds in a German field hospital in Kortrijk on 26 May 1918, which just 10 days before his 21st Birthday."

Dorothy Garnett, 91 who lives in Llay, laid a wreath on the spot where it was thought the battle that caused the fatal injuries to her uncle had taken place.

Mr Garnett added: "It was a very emotional moment for all of us, not least because the pilgrimage was the first time in many years that we have all been together".

Mr Garnett is one of seven children, with his brother Andrew having travelled all the way from Australia to attend the event.

A total of 170,500 officers and men served in the MGC, of which 62,049 were killed, wounded or missing.