Search for surviving relatives of Battle of Somme Hero.

The Northern Echo Newspaper and Army chiefs are trying to trace any surviving relatives of a North East War hero who was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.


The remains were found last year during a road widening project near Thiepval, in the Picardy region of northern France.  From the metal identification tag that was found with the body was that of Sergeant David Harkness Blakey, his details are as follows:

Initials: D H

Surname:            Blakey

Birth Town:        Felling, Durham

Resided Town:  Newcastle-On-Tyne

Enlistment Location:      Newcastle-on-Tyne

Nationality:        British

Date of Death:  01/07/1916

Fate:      Killed In Action

Rank:     Sergeant

Service Number:              18634

Gallantry Awards:           Military Medal

This Level 3 Gallantry Medal was established during the First World War on the 25th March 1916 and introduced in the London Gazette issue 29535, (back dated to 1914) to personnel of the British Army and other services, and personnel of Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank. It was the other ranks' equivalent to the Military Cross (M.C.), (which was awarded to Commissioned Officers and, rarely, to Warrant Officers, who could also be awarded the M.M.).

The military decoration was awarded to David Harkness Blakey for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire or for individual or associated acts of bravery which were insufficient to merit the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Conferment of the medal was announced in the London Gazette and David Harkness Blakey earned the right to add the letters M.M. to his name.

Duty Location:   France and Flanders

Campaign Medals:          Military Medal, 1914-15 Star, Victory Medal, British War Medal.

Regiment:           Lancashire Fusiliers

Battalion:            11th Battalion.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "When the remains of British service personnel are discovered on historic battlefields, the Ministry of Defence attempts to identify any living relatives so that they can be involved in the subsequent re-interment and memorial service.

"We are currently searching for any surviving relatives of Sergeant David Harkness Blakey of the 11th Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who died on July 1, 1916 in the Battle of the Somme.

"In December 1916 he was posthumously awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field."

Sgt Blakey was born in 1890 in Felling, in what was then County Durham.

He was the son of Isabella and Henry Blakey, a coal miner.

Sgt Blakey had one brother, Robert and two sisters, Mary and Jane.

He worked as a hewer in the coal mines and was a member of the Durham Miners' Trade Union, before enlisting in the Army. He lived in Fellling and Blaydon.

Sgt Blakey and his wife Sarah had two children, Henry and Vivien Winifred.

His son Henry followed his father into the Army, and as Bombardier Blakey was killed in action at Dunkirk on June 6, 1940.

If you can help or able to trace the relatives and family please see the link for the Northern Echo and the Army Media and Communications.

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