Army charity enlists battalion of celebs to find stories of forgotten WW1 heroes

An Armed Forces charity has enlisted a battalion of celebrities in a campaign to tell the stories of our forgotten First World War heroes.

To mark the centenary of the end of the war in 1918, the SSAFA wants the public to share their fading sepia snaps of family members who fought in the conflict.

Actors Antony Cotton, 42, Helen McCrory, 49, and Joanna Lumley, 71, have signed up to help, along with Olympic gold medallist Dame Kelly Holmes, 48, X Factor star Fleur East, 30, and TV historian Dan Snow , 39.

Antony, who plays Sean Tully in Coronation Street, is an SSAFA Ambassador, and has contributed a picture of a man he believes is his maternal great grandfather.

But he said: “This photo has been in an album at my mum’s house for years and we have never known the identity of this man.

“He has become known as ‘The Unknown Solider’ within my family and each year, I visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in London and think of him.

“It is incredibly important that families continue to pass down stories and photos of family who sacrificed their lives for our country.”

Helen, who is Aunt Polly in Peaky Blinders, found a picture of her maternal great grandfather, Albert Bradbeer.

She said: “He was buried alive in the trenches. He came home suffering shell-shock.”

He died five years later.

Joanna, whose great uncles, George and Fredrick Lumley, died at Arras, France, in 1917, said: “I’m so looking forward to seeing people getting behind this campaign.”

Kelly, who served in the Army for 10 years, said: “I’m celebrating my step grandfather, Albert Norris, who fought in The Royal Fusiliers and I hope this will inspire other people to nominate their family members.”

Singer Fleur’s great grandad, Fred East, was in the war and she said: “It’s something we’re very proud of as a family.”

Dan said: “My great grandfather, Lieutenant General Sir Thomas D’oyly Snow, fought on The Western Front and in the Somme.

"The bravery of him and his men is staggering and is something we should never forget 100 years later.”

The campaign aims to teach the younger generation about the war, which ended on November 11, 1918.

Justine Baynes, director at the SSAFA, said: “The further we move away from World War One, the more important it is for us to keep the stories of bravery and courage alive.”

  • You can share your photos and stories at or by using the hashtag #WW100

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