Mildenhall man celebrates birthday with family reunion in Belgium
A Mildenhall man celebrated his 40th birthday last weekend with a family reunion - with a relative who died 70 years ago in Belgium.
Birthday boy Richard Alecock decided to commemorate the occasion by visting the war memorial where his father’s cousin, Frederick Alecock, is buried.
Father of two Richard said he has always been interested in his family tree, which still has strong roots in Mildenhall.
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do from quite a young age,” said Richard.
“He was a Mildenhall boy sent over to Belgium during the war, and his story has been passed down through the generations.
“There must be 60 or 70 Alecocks still living here.”
Frederick Derrick Alecock was born in Mildenhall in 1924, the illigitimate son of Richard’s grandmother.
Raised by his grandparents in the town, Frederick served in the Second World War as a dispatch driver for the Royal Army Service Corps.
According to his death certificate he was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1944, aged 20. He is commemorated on the Mildenhall War Memorial, in Kingsway, and in St Mary’s Church.
Last weekend Richard, along with his brother Gavin, 38, and cousin Nathan, 29, travelled 200 miles to Evere, in Belgium, to visit their relative’s resting place.
“It was quite an emotional experience. It’s ironic, because I visited quite a few cemeteries locally while I was researching him,” said Richard.
“I don’t think my brother, cousin and I knew what to expect. Every grave was exactly the same and they’re kept in immaculate condition - it is quite a sight to behold.”
Richard, a self-employed window cleaner, is attempting to find out more about his ancestor and the circumstances of his death.
He is appealing to people in and around Mildenhall for any information they may have about Frederick.
Richard said: “I’ve always been interested in the family tree. I started researching and got more and more involved. It is a hobby I really enjoy doing.
“I went back in history as far as I could and hit a brick wall. Hopefully when I get his service records, it may open a few more doors.
“By getting as much information as possible, you build up a picture of a person. You can almost feel them there.”