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Family Finders Connect Family Of Fallen With Respectful Couple

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In The Netherlands, there is an unwavering loyalty to the Allied Troops that freed them from occupation in WW2. So much so in fact, that they tend and respect the graves of the fallen for us. John and Sharon Esser from Kerkrade in The Netherlands. Have ‘adopted’ the graves of 2 British servicemen.

Grave Adoption is serious business. The waiting lists to be able to do so are huge and the vetting process is very thorough. John and Sharon had been waiting for a long time to be able to honour a serviceman, which they see as an act of Patriotic Duty .




They regularly visit Venray War Cemetery and Nederweert War Cemetery to take them flowers and pay their respects.  They asked in a popular Facebook group called UK Veterans for some help in tracking down the families. We are a member of this group and several others due to the huge amount of work we do with the armed forces. We are also a firm of family finders. So we decided to try and help.

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One of their ‘Adoptees’ is a Trooper John William Roe who was a member of the Royal Tank Regiment R.A.C/A Squadron 5th. He was 27 years old when he gave his life for his country. Hailing from Ashbourne in Derbyshire. One of 5 children to his Parents John and Esther.

We were able to trace the Niece of John William. Christine Scott, of Melton Mowbray. Her Mother Phylis was Johns older Sister.

Understandably, Christine was shocked and also overwhelmed with emotion when we got in touch. Like so many other families, they have never seen the War Graves of loved ones, and she never thought she would. As family finders, we are used to dealing with these conversations with a lot of tact and understanding.



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Christine, refers to him as Uncle Bill. She never got to meet him and remembers only too clearly the devastation her Mother still felt so many years after the loss of her Brother. Christine does have a solitary photograph of Bill. It was taken whilst he was on leave from training in Scotland during the week of 31/8/1940 -6/9/1940. As far as Christine is aware, it is the last photograph in existence of Bill.  Bill was a promising golfer, due to start a professional career on his return.





There is a small memorial stone for her Uncle Bill at the foot of his Parents gravestone. Credit to Alf Beard for the photograph of this stone. Alf is a dedicated genealogist and photographer and we are grateful we were able to find this photograph.

family finders family findeChristine, John and Sharon were put in touch via email, and have exchanged photographs. For Christine this has brought some peace that her Mum sadly never felt. She is , in her own words “thrilled that this has happened”

So if you are another relative of John William AKA Bill, please get in touch, and perhaps we can learn more about him. We would especially love some photographs of him to add to this page. We intend to make this a lasting tribute to him.


We will be visiting some of these cemeteries ourselves in future. Anyone in the UK wishing to visit any War Cemeteries can do so through Tommy Atkins Tours a highly reputable company ( we had them recommended to us and will be using them as soon as travel restrictions are lifted) Just ask for Andy Tilby-Baxter.

This heart warming case was featured in the Ashbourne News Telegraph, along with online articles in the  Leicester Mercury and Melton Times.

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We are also looking for the family of Private Fred Dale, from the 9th BN Durham Light Infantry who died 4/2/1945 and is laid to rest at Nederweert. There are no details as to his age or where he was from. 

Any information would be gratefully received. We will get back to you as soon as we can.

Thankyou Trooper John William Roe and Private Fred Dale for your ultimate sacrifice. And a huge thank you to John and Sharon Esser, and the people of The Netherlands.

The best thing you can do to help us with our Armed Forces searching is like our Facebook page HERE so you see our updates and requests for help in certain areas.

To track down a family member or friend, contact us HERE