A Measham man has compiled the tragic life story of his great uncle - 100 years after he was blown up by a landmine in the First World War.

As a child, Geoff Kent had come across Reuben Kent's name on the village war memorial and always wondered who he was. After finding out they were related, the father-of-three carried out detailed research about the soldier who had been his great uncle and his heroism in the Great War.

Mr Kent has now completed the history of Reuben Kent in a piece of work marking 100 years since his death in the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as Passchendaele.

Mr Kent, now 68, said: "I was born in Measham and spent the first 21 years of my life there living in Bosworth Road where the memorial stands. I saw Reuben's name on the war memorial and heard through the grapevine that he was a relative but knew no more than that he had died in the First World War.

"I always wondered about it and thought it was strange that his name is on the memorial for all to see but nobody knew anything about him. I thought it might be interesting to delve deeper and luckily I had some benefit in that my brother had already done a lot of work on the Kent family tree. He discovered Reuben was our great uncle so that was a great starting point."

Reuben lived in this house in Adcocks Yard 100 years ago

It took Geoff more than a year to do the research and put his findings together.

He said: "Sadly, by the time I began to create this document in 2016, the older relatives on the Kent side of the family who might have provided a source of the personal details of Reuben's life were no longer alive.

"However, some living descendants of Reuben have been able to provide some photographs and information which is of great value in preserving Reuben’s memory.

"Reuben who was a resident of Swadlincote at the time of his death, enlisted in Burton in the 7th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment. In late September 1917 the regiment was involved in the battle known as Polygon Wood at Ypres in Belgium where in coming up in support were badly hit by artillery fire and the brigade was forced to retreat back into Polygon Wood. Reuben died aged 31, on October 1, 1917.

"I am retired but as a grandfather there was a limit to the time I could devote to this project, however, the internet proved to be very helpful when it came to looking at the history of the battle."

While looking back on Reuben's years, Geoff, a retired electronics engineer, was fortunate to meet long-lost relatives and even found the house where his great uncle lived with his wife and children.

Reuben Kent's grave sits in Belgium

He said: "Reuben’s granddaughter Rosalind Clowes was very helpful when it came to inspiring my research. She told me that Reuben’s friend Tommy, who visited Reuben's wife Annie after his death, told her that Reuben died after treading on a land mine.

"At this time, his wife Annie was 29 years old and his two daughters were only four and two. Rosalind had also visited Reuben’s grave in Belgium.

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"Rosalind's uncle Jack, 91, also had a great memory and recalled images of Reuben's wife Annie. He also showed me the house in Adcocks Yard, Measham which was incredibly emotional to think that 100 years ago Reuben was living in that house, raising a family."

Mr Kent, who now lives in Barwell, near Hinckley, said he is "incredibly proud" of his great-uncle and the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country.

Reuben is remembered on the Measham memorial

He said: "I am very proud of him. The freedoms young people have today are down to people like Reuben who sacrificed themselves. So many young people with families went off and fought on behalf of us and it is important to think about them and recognise and remember that. For me it is nice to think that there is a lasting reminder of Reuben on the memorial."

Mr Kent, who has six grandchildren, said he would continue to explore and add to Reuben's story in the future so that "all can appreciate and reflect on the sacrifice that Reuben and his fellow servicemen made for our freedom".

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