War tribute connects family

From left, Clifford Sandercombe, Iain Macdonald, Jeanne Mason, Roy McIvor and Christine Vincenti at the Queensferry library First World War display. Picture: contributed

From left, Clifford Sandercombe, Iain Macdonald, Jeanne Mason, Roy McIvor and Christine Vincenti at the Queensferry library First World War display. Picture: contributed

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RELATIVEs of an estranged family have met for the first time after reading a News article about two brothers who died in the First World War.

The story of James and Charles Sandercombe was featured last week as part of centenary commemorations to mark the outbreak of the Great War.

Their great-niece, Christine Vincenti, told of the brothers’ role in an exhibition chronicling the impact of the conflict on the then small community of South Queensferry.

But days later, Mrs Vincenti was astounded to learn relatives she barely knew existed had contacted the South Queensferry local history group asking to be put in touch with her. She has now enjoyed an emotional meeting with distant relatives at the very exhibition that hit the headlines.

Mrs Vincenti said pinpointing the exact relationships between all attending relatives had been too complicated a quandary to solve but that a new treasure trove of family mementos had now been unearthed.

“It is absolutely wonderful to be able to be put in touch with them,” she said. “They have a whole range of family photographs and information that they are going to share with me which is great and also a huge boost to the history group.

“I knew that they were on the family history tree that my mother had drawn up years ago but I had no idea where they were or where they lived.

The newly-discovered relatives all descended from James Sandercombe – the first Sandercombe to settle in South Queensferry in 1859.

Tragically, James was killed in France within weeks of sending a postcard to his beloved mother Christina – just weeks before the end of hostilities. His younger brother Charles had already perished on the battlefield, killed just two years earlier.

Today, the postcard and a selection of other fascinating items relating to the brothers in arms make up part of an exhibition. Included is Charles’ wallet, complete with puncture hole from a German bayonet, that was retrieved from his uniform pocket as he lay on the battlefield.

Mrs Vincenti launched a family research project in June focusing on World War One and focusing on her great uncles.

One of her new-found relatives, Iain Macdonald, 63, said the family would now combine their knowledge to fill in 
the blanks to the family tree. He said: “Christine has done some sterling work there, she’s really done wonders. It was really quite revealing to see all the interesting bits and pieces in the library and learn more of the history of our family. I’ll certainly help to fill in a lot of the gaps in the family tree.”

kate.pickles@edinburghnews.com