LETTERS written by an Oxford soldier killed in the First World War have reached one of his descendants more than 100 years later.

Charles Tyrrell, known as George, died aged 20 on New Year’s Eve 1915 and was one of the ‘66 Men of Grandpont’ who never returned from the battlefields.

His great-nephew, Geoff, was stunned when ex-colleague Liam Walsh got in touch to say his dad had retrieved George’s letters from a skip in the early 1980s and they were still in the family’s possession.

Mr Walsh had even written about them for a school project – long before he knew Mr Tyrrell – and found them this year, before tracing them back to his old colleague.

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Mr Tyrrell, from Headington, said: “When the letters surfaced it was a real shock.

“I’ve done a lot of research into uncle George, but a lot of that has been very factual.

“The letters are in absolute pristine condition, they could have been written yesterday. It was like I could hear his voice.”

Oxford Mail:

Witney resident Mr Walsh added: “It was amazing as I’d forgotten them for 40 years.

“My daughter did some research and it didn’t take long to get hold of Geoff.”

Mr Tyrrell had researched George’s life for the ‘66 Men of Grandpont’ project about the men from the south Oxford suburb whose names are etched into a memorial at St Matthew’s Church.

His great uncle was born on August 4, 1895, and was a chorister at New College School as a boy.

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George was a junior clerk for a Cornmarket solicitor, then worked at Barclays Bank in the High Street, now the Old Bank Hotel.

He enlisted in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in October 1914 and was sent to Hebuterne, France, the following summer.

Oxford Mail:

Mr Tyrrell transcribed the documents, dating between June and November 1915, before matching them up with British Army War Diaries.

The first, from June 16, mentions the ‘magnificent weather’, picking strawberries and going for a swim.

George remains upbeat in the four letters sent from November 18 to 25, although several references to frostbite and the deteriorating weather show the conditions were worsening.

He returned home at Christmas for one week, but the next letter to his parents is from an army chaplain on January 1 and breaks the news that their son had been killed by a shell.

A war diary entry from December 31 reads: “At 10.55 pm Germans opened rapid rifle and machine gun fire and put up a lot of flares and rockets. This soon subsided.

“It was probably done to mark the new year, the German time being one hour five minutes in advance of ours.”

Mr Tyrrell, who has visited George’s grave at Hebuterne Military Cemetery, said: “I’ll definitely be thinking about him this year.”

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He worked on the '66 Men of Grandpont' project with historian Liz Woolley, who was fascinated to see more stories coming to light.

She said: “The project benefitted enormously from contact with families such as the Tyrrells and we were delighted when Geoff and his father first came forward in 2015.

“Since then the story of Geoff’s great uncle has been revealed further and become even more interesting and important – not only to the family but also to the community from where George came.

“It’s remarkable how much has been unearthed, not only about the Tyrrells but also other families involved in the project.”

You can find out more about George and the 66 Men of Grandpont project here.