WWI centenary: Family reunited after reading WWI coverage

FAMILY HISTORY Norris Handford, left, and Larry Rowe read through their grandfather's diary. (d622a435)
FAMILY HISTORY Norris Handford, left, and Larry Rowe read through their grandfather's diary. (d622a435)

A Reporter Series article about a soldier’s war diaries has brought two sides of a family together.

Larry Rowe, of Norfolk, knew very little of his late grandfather, George Handford, apart from a few war tales passed down through the family.

Inspired by television programmes on the WWI centenary, Larry, 71, took a punt and typed his grandfather’s name into the internet – and up popped and article about George and his son, Mirfield man Norris Handford.

It had only been published two days earlier, but Larry immediately recognised tales of George’s heroism in the Gallipoli campaign.

George and his first wife Louisa moved to Nab Lane in Mirfield from London in the early 1900s, but separated shortly after WWI. Their only child, Edith, had three children, including Larry, after moving back to the capital.

But Larry never knew that George remarried and fathered Norris, who now lives in Shill Bank Avenue.

Now the pair have been reunited, bonding over family history and their grandfather’s fascinating war diaries. They recount a tale of allied bravery in the face of a Turkish onslaught, sweltering heat and disease running rife.

Golf club manager Larry said: “I was blown away when I saw the article. It was such a strange coincidence that I typed George’s name into the internet – and there he was.

“I never knew of Norris’ existence and it was a pleasure to travel up to Mirfield and meet him. It was wonderful.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen any photos of my grandfather. I’ll definitely be coming to visit again.”

Norris, 82, said: “Larry was a super guy to talk to.”