THE idea of a Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton, who, while serving as an army chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the pencil-written legend 'An Unknown British Soldier'. He wrote to the Dean of Westminster in 1920 proposing that an unidentified British soldier from the battlefields in France be buried with due ceremony in Westminster Abbey "amongst the kings" to represent the many hundreds of thousands of Empire dead. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, London on November 11, 1920, simultaneously with a similar interment of a French unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, France, making both graves the first to honour the unknown dead of the First World War.

Now almost 100 years later, a Flintshire history group is trying to find out more about their own 'unknown soldier', who it seems is little more than a name on Hawarden's War Memorial.

"Albert Coleman is a proper mystery," said Viv Williams, of Flintshire War Memorials, a community website which researches the stories behind the names on every First World War memorial across the county.

"Once a story has been researched and added to the website, the magic of the internet starts to work," continues Viv. "Stories are very often enhanced and expanded by further information and scanned photographs which are sent to the project by family members of servicemen. They communicate with us in the first instance via the 'contact page' on the website. We are eternally grateful to these families for sharing their stories with us."

Despite hours of research into Albert's family background, his details and story remain a tantalising unknown, with the website's team of researchers hitting a dead end at every turn.

"There is no Flintshire WW1 Index Card for Albert, neither 'Fallen' nor 'Living', so we have no idea who this man could be," adds Viv. "We cannot find him locally on the 1911 census and he is not, to our knowledge, on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database, or on the under 'Casualties' nor 'Draft, Enlistment and Service', nor on the 'Service Records'."

All the group have had to go on is an entry on a webpage on the Imperial War Museum's Memorial Project which details an inscription on a gravestone in St Deiniol's churchyard in Hawarden, which reads: "In Loving memory of Edward Coleman of Aston who died October 1905 aged 73. May he rest in peace. Also of Pte A Coleman grandson of the above. Died in France 1916 aged 33 yrs. For King and Country."

"In an attempt to learn more about our soldier Albert Coleman, we have examined census information about this extended and complex family," explains one of Flintshire War Memorial's researchers, Mavis Williams. "We know that Albert was the grandson of Edward Coleman, so we have tried to trace backwards, the Coleman family.

"In the census of 1881, Edward Coleman aged 49 and a boilerman, was living at 189 West Street, Coppenhall, Crewe. At that time his wife Sarah was still living. She was 47 and came originally from Buckinghamshire. Their listed children were George, who was 23, Webster who was 13 and Sarah Coleman who was five).

"In the census of 1871 the Colemans were living at 23 Oakley Street, Coppenhall, Crewe. Edward was 39 and a boilermaker. Sarah Ann Coleman was 38. Their listed children were George, 13, Eliza, 11, Louisa, eight, Miriam, eight and Walter, two.

"In 1861 this family was living in Cosgrove where they were lodgers in the home of a tailor, Charles Baldwin and his family. Edward Coleman was 29 and a boilermaker. Sarah Ann Coleman was 27. Their son George was three and daughter Anneliza was just one. There were three other lodgers in this household.

"If Albert Coleman was the grandson of Edward Coleman, he had to be the son of one of Edward's children. He was born in 1883 according to the grave inscription but so far we have no trace."

By the time Edward moves to Hawarden, the family make up becomes even more confusing when he marries Bathsheba on August 21, 1886 in St Deniol's Church. They had both been married previously and had both been widowed. Bathsheba was 56 and lived in Aston, Hawarden and they both had children from their previous marriages.

Mavis explains: "The census of 1881 tells us that Bathsheba had previously been married to Albert Weigh. They lived in Sandhills, Hawarden. He was 59 and a coalminer who had been born in Wood Lane in Hawarden. She was 53 and had been born in Ewloe. Five of their children were listed in the household. Thomas was 30 and Joseph was 18. They were both unmarried and both coal miners. Sarah was 20, John was 14 and Jane was 12.

"By 1891 the census records Edward Coleman living in Aston, Hawarden. He was 59-years-old and was a boilerman who had been born in Hemel Hempstead. His wife was Bathsheba Coleman. She was 61 and had been born in Hawarden. Also listed in the household were John Weigh, a stepson who was 24. He was a sailor who had been born in Hawarden. Also Sarah E Coleman, a stepdaughter aged 15. She was a scholar who had been born in Crewe, Cheshire.

"By the 1901 census, Edward Coleman was 69 and was then a farmer. His wife Bathsheba was, 72. Also listed were a married stepdaughter, Hannah Jones who was 48 and John Weigh an unmarried stepson, who was a 32-year-old tailor."

The final mystery comes with the deaths of Edward and his wife. Edward Coleman was buried on October 23, 1905, aged 73 years and Bathsheba Coleman of Holly House, Aston, was buried on October 19, 1911 aged 83 years.

"They were both deceased years before Albert died in the war," added Viv. "So who added his name to the family grave?

"Any information about this soldier would be gratefully received, as we don't want him to disappear into obscurity more than he already has."

If you have any information on Edward Coleman please contact