Unexpected connection between soldiers just ‘amazing’

DARLING DOWNS resident Jackie Bern discovered a tragic family connection while researching her ancestors� war history.

Her great uncle private Fred Walding (27) and her husband�s grandfather private Alec Bern (35) both died on May 9, 1915, during the Battle of Aubers Ridge, a British offensive on the Western Front in WWI.

Fred Walding was believed have been killed in a bayonet charge.

Alec Bern, who had also fought in the Boer War, had apparently run out from the trench to help his injured Scottish sergeant.

He had previously served with his sergeant in The Black Watch Battalion of The Royal Highlanders in South Africa.

Unfortunately, Alec Bern was killed while attempting to save his life.

He had a wife and four children.

Until recently, Mrs Bern had no idea her family history crossed paths with her husband�s.

�About 18 months ago I started to research my family history,� she said.

�I was mindful of the fact that my parents have now gone and thought how I�d love to ask them questions.�

�I thought I�d do this for my grandchildren.�

She started compiling a book made up of old newspaper clippings, letters and photos and managed to trace her British heritage back to the 16th century.

But it was the connection she made between Fred Walding and Alec Bern that surprised her most.

�I couldn�t believe it,� she said.

�I thought how amazing is that: they were in the same battle, died on the same day and are commemorated in the same place.

�I�d like to think that they did meet and had a smoke together and thought maybe one day our families will meet.�

To pay their respects to the fallen soldiers, Mr and Mrs Bern will travel to Bethune in France on May 4, where their memorial is. Family members from England will join them in France and they will hold a small service for the soldiers.

It is expected to be an �emotional journey�.