Warwick and Leamington family’s closure for WWII soldier after 74 years

Margaret Keighley receiving a flag from Rev Dr Brutus Green.
Margaret Keighley receiving a flag from Rev Dr Brutus Green.

A family from Leamington and Warwick who spent 74 years not knowing what happened to their relative now have closure.

Margaret Keighley (née Tingle), who lives in Leamington, was told that her brother, Private Lacey Anthony Tingle, was missing in action during the Second World War but for 74 years she always thought he might return home one day.

Lacey Tingle with his sister Margaret Keighley.

Lacey Tingle with his sister Margaret Keighley.

However, around the end of February, Margaret received a letter from the Ministry of Defence’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) telling her that her brother’s grave had been found.

Last week Margaret, her son Paul Keighley (from Leamington) and her daughter Zoe Smith (from Warwick) attended a special rededication service and ceremony at the Ranville War Cemetery in France.

Margaret said: “It was a total surprise to me when I received the letter from the JCCC advising me that Lacey’s final resting place had been found. I couldn’t believe that this could be possible after 74 years.

“It was only after meeting members of the JCCC team that I realised I had never properly grieved for my brother as he was declared ‘missing in action’ with no known grave.

Zoe Smith, Margaret Keighley and Paul Keighley laying a wreath on Private Lacey Anthony Tingle's grave.

Zoe Smith, Margaret Keighley and Paul Keighley laying a wreath on Private Lacey Anthony Tingle's grave.

“So, it brings great comfort to be able to visit his grave for this rededication and finally say goodbye. I am extremely grateful to everyone for making it possible.”

Paul, who is a constable at Warwickshire Police, said: “It is fantastic to get some closure of this part of my life – being brought up with the stories and never knowing him.

“I am very proud knowing that being a conscientious objector he went into battle unarmed and unable to defend himself but he was there to save lives. I was proud to wear his medals at the rededication.

Zoe said: “We gave up all hope in knowing where he was. Mum thought for a long time that he might have lost his memory and couldn’t get home. I think it was a relief for her to have that closure.

Zoe Smith. Paul Keighley and Margaret Keighley beside Private Lacey Tingle's grave in France.

Zoe Smith. Paul Keighley and Margaret Keighley beside Private Lacey Tingle's grave in France.

“Mum finally knows where he is resting and is not always wondering what had happened.”

The location of the grave came to light after two researchers submitted evidence regarding his whereabouts to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Further research by the JCCC and the National Army Museum was undertaken and the identification of the ‘Unknown Soldier’ grave was found to be Private Lacey Tingle.

Lacey Anthony Tingle was born February 9, 1915, in Hornsey, Middlesex. He was a dedicated Methodist and conscientious objector.

A rededication service took place in the Ranville War Cemetery in France last week for Private Lacey Tingle.

A rededication service took place in the Ranville War Cemetery in France last week for Private Lacey Tingle.

He enlisted into the Non-combatant Corps on February 20 1941. He was part of the bomb disposal unit before he was transferred to the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1943.

He was posted to the 244th Parachute Field Ambulance and on June 6 1944 he parachuted into Normandy with the 6th Airborne Division in support of Operation Tonga.

He had been reported as missing and was commemorated on the Bayeux Memorial. On June 7, 1944, a group of Paratroopers were surrounded by the enemy in the village of Douville-en-Auge. Nine of the group were killed and they were buried in the village and after the war they were moved to the Ranville War Cemetery. It is now known that Lacey was one of the nine who were killed.