WHEN Ken Wreford decided to find the child of his late father’s wartime best friend he thought it would take ages.
But he reckoned without the help of the Bury Free Press and its readers.
As we reported on Remembrance Day, Ken’s father, also called Ken Wreford, was a resident of Horringer Court and died in June aged 87.
He had never really talked to his sons about his war service, so when Ken junior, from Bury St Edmunds, went through his father’s things, the letters unearthed told him a lot about his father that he did not know.
A recorded interview with Mr Wreford by Andy Conroy of the Horringer Court Fellowship also meant Ken could hear the story in his father’s words for the first time.
His father served as a anti-tank gunner, landing in France four days after D-Day with the Dorset Regiment and was wounded at Caen. The tape and the letters mentioned his best friend Archie ‘Ray’ Rayment, who had gone to France with him, leaving a pregnant wife at home.
The record told how Archie died when the patrol he was with approached a disabled German tank, not realising the crew were still inside, and were machine gunned. He never saw his child.
Among Mr Wreford’s papers was a Remembrance Day poem in which the last line refers to children ‘who will never know their dad’, which Ken felt referred to Archie.
Ken told the Bury Free Press: “I want to find his son or daughter and show them the letters and photos.”
The story intrigued reader Chris Argent, whose hobbies include military history and genealogy, so he went searching online. He found the records of an Arthur Rayment of the Dorset Regiment plus a marriage certificate and birth certificate for a son, also called Arthur, which showed it was ‘Archie’. We put him in touch with Ken.
Ken wondered if Arthur Rayment junior might still live in Eltham where he was born, so he checked the phone directory and called the only person of that name listed to find it was him.
They have now met and Ken said: “He had some photos of his father but never knew much about him. It was a nice ending to the story.
“I’d like to thank the Bury Free Press and Chris Argent.
“I just wish I had known more about this while my dad was still alive. He could have told Arthur a lot more about his father.”