Somme bugle sounds down the generations

WAR veteran Maurice Green was searching for old Army medals on a market stall when he spotted a battered old bugle, piled among junk.

The badly-dented instrument on the bric-a-brac stand was badly tarnished and covered in dirt, but 73-year-old Mr Green handed over 5 and took it home. When he began cleaning the bugle and uncovered the army service number of the bugler he discovered it was issued before the Battle of the Somme in 1916.

And he was stunned when he realised the service number was that of his grandfather, Daniel Clay.

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On that fateful day Drummer Clay, 26, sounded out the charge as 703 members of the Eighth Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment leapt from their trenches. It was the first day of the battle and over the next few hours all but 68 of the men perished, including Private Clay. His body was never found among the thousands slaughtered.

Retired engineer Mr Green from Brinsworth, Rotherham, said: "I couldn't see the last two digits because the bugle was filthy and covered with years of grime. But something in me started shaking straight away.

"I just wondered if it could be the bugle my granddad played at the Somme. But then I thought that would be impossible; it was too much of a coincidence.

"I began cleaning it and I was stunned when the last two digits corresponded to my granddad's army service number.

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"No service number was ever issued twice within a battalion and the five digit number was taken out of use after World War One so it seems certain this was the bugle my granddad played at the Somme."

The grandfather-of-three added: "It is an unbelievable story and I think my grandfather's bugle made the journey home after being picked up on the battlefield by one of the few survivors from his battalion.

"The important thing is that it has ended up back in the right hands in the end."

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