Appeal for help in piecing together Warwick war hero’s story

Margaret O'Connor is appealing for help to find more about her dad's time fighting in the First World War.
Margaret O'Connor is appealing for help to find more about her dad's time fighting in the First World War.

The daughter of a First World War soldier badly injured in battle is trying to find out more about his war story - 
and his life in Warwick and Leamington.

Margaret O’Connor, who lives off Crompton Street, Warwick, started looking for more information about her dad, Bertie Collins, over the last few weeks.

Bertie Collins was born in February 1896 in Warwick and enlisted into the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on September 3 1914.

After serving in the First Regiment for only a few months he was shot on May 2 1915. Bertie’s injuries left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

In his life Bertie married three times, with the third being to Margaret’s mum Agnes.

Margaret said: “My dad fought in the Battle of Ypres and he was wounded.

Margaret O'Connor with her dad's medals and badge.

Margaret O'Connor with her dad's medals and badge.

“He was left crippled from aged 19 and spent 18 months in a hospital in France.

“I always knew why my dad was in the wheelchair but he never spoke about the war. He had nightmares. It must have been awful for him.

“He also had a bullet go through his skull because he always used to show me the dent in his head.”

Margaret was only nine-years-old when her dad died of Arthritis Tuberculosis at the age of 52.

She said: “I do have fond memories where I used to sit on the bottom of his wheelchair and he used to take me to school.

“But looking back my mum did so much for my dad. She dressed his wounds every day, she had to get him from the wheelchair to the house. I can’t believe how my mum managed but she did.”

For Bertie’s service to the war he received three medals and one war badge.

Margaret said: “My dad was given a victory medal, a British medal and a star medal. He also had a badge, which was to show that he fought in the war, when others like conscientious objectors didn’t.”

Margaret had been considering finding out more about her dad’s time at war for years and decided a few weeks ago to investigate.

She said: “I have thought about it on and off and then I decided to look into it a few weeks ago. The staff at the Fusiliers Museum helped as much as they could. I found out more about him but it would be nice to know even more. He was married three times but I don’t know if he had any other children apart from me and my brother John. I don’t know where he received medical treatment in France or where he was stationed. It would be nice to meet somebody who had family members that knew him or fought with him.”

If anyone can help Margaret trace back more information or can share information about her dad they should contact The Courier by emailing kirstie.smith@jpress.co.uk or by calling 01926 457 725.

Margaret has asked for people to get in touch with her through the newspaper initially and then once she has contact details she will then get in touch.