Sydney Graham, an OA volunteer, recently attended a memorial service for the father he never met.
Edward Graham was killed during an ambush in Sicily on 13th August 1943. The Royal Irish Fusilier died aged 31, without knowing his wife had given birth to twin sons just 22 days before. Edward was initially posted as missing but was confirmed dead two years later. He was first buried at the roadside before being moved to an unnamed grave.
Sydney and his brother (also called Edward) spent years looking for the grave. They researched many records, but struggled to find relevant information. However, they eventually traced their father’s grave to Catania War Cemetery in Italy.
The twins recently attended a memorial service, where a new headstone was installed to replace the unnamed one.
Sydney said: “I felt relieved to finally find my father’s resting place. I’m sad that my mother never knew where he was buried, but at least everyone now knows. World War Two ended more than 70 years ago, and yet we are still feeling its effects. The ceremony at Catania brought closure after a search which lasted many, many years. Whilst I am sad that I never knew my father I am, nevertheless, very proud that he died fighting for freedom.”
Sydney is an Honorary Representatives (Hon Reps), the OA’s national network of volunteers, who provide a crucial link with beneficiaries. They help the OA Benevolence Team based in London to assess applicants’ needs by visiting people in their homes, nationwide and overseas. After a grant has been awarded, the visiting Hon Rep will complete an Annual Review to assess the beneficiary’s situation, and help us decide if they need further support.
Nigel Hare, OA Head of Benevolence, said: “Like all of our Hon Reps, Sydney selflessly helps former officers and their dependants in difficult situations. I was therefore saddened when I first learned of his family tragedy, but then pleased that Sydney and his brother have finally been able to pay respects to their father.”