Searching for “Steve” WWII Soldier ~ Stephen Frederick FIELD [1920-1965]

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A post in the “Somerset – Ancestors and Genealogy” Facebook group caught my eye at the weekend posted by Wendi Shaw of New Jersey, USA who was looking for help identifying a British WWII soldier named “Steve” who had sent postcards of himself to “Gray, Evelyn & Megan” during his time in the army.

“Hi from the US. Please help me find Steve! These are from WW2. I would love to find his family & return them. Any help at all is welcome! Especially with military uniforms. These were originally labelled from a different country. Then I did some digging. I believe this is a British uniform. These were stored in a box for decades. Near your area. Now I have them in the US. I would love to get them to his family. Find out his story! My clues – relatives are Gray (poss short for Graham), Evelyn & Megan. He was part of the military sports team – soccer? Possibly part of the Royal Artillery in Burma. Possibly lived near your area [Somerset]. Thank you in advance! Any help welcome!”


The postcards read:

  • ” To Gray, Evelyn & Megan. Wishing you all the happiness for Christmas & the New Year. From Steve”
  • “Love to:- Gray, Evelyn, and Megan”
  • “To Gray, Evelyn & Family”
  • “Love Steve xxx”

There are no stamps, dates or addresses and the only clues to where they were taken are his tropical uniform in a couple, and two with a “Photo NUBAR” emboss. Nubar is a first name of Armenian origin, but the business name does not lead anywhere.


Looking at to whom the postcards were addressed it seemed likely that Gray and Evelyn were a couple and Megan their daughter, and that they had a second child when Steve addressed the postcard to “Gray, Evelyn and family“. One family group immediately fitted this criteria when searching the 1939 Register, that of Graham Silvey FIELD b.1911, his wife Evelyn Lucy FIELD nee BEARD b.1910, and their daughter Megan Diana FIELD b.1935. They were living Saul, Gloucestershire (the next county south of Somerset) and the couple had a second child in 1942 (Gordon Victor FIELD). Graham also had a younger brother called Stephen Frederick FIELD b.1920.

I requested more information from Wendi about where she had acquired the postcards and why she believed “Steve” to be from the Somerset area.

“My story – as a hobby, I scour thrift stores, auctions, online, and flea markets and buy old diaries, journals, letters, and photo albums and try to find families to return them. Especially veterans. I was on the news a few times. I have so many amazing stories. Most of these items get lost in the shuffle, donated by accident, or missed at the estate sale. And then there’s Steve! Lol. He kept coming up on my auction website from the UK. And he is a soldier. So I figured I would try to find his family. He was originally listed as Australian. I asked the seller where they got the photos – he said a local collectors estate sale. Buried in a box. And they are near Somerset.”

There are no military records online to confirm whether Stephen Frederick FIELD ever served during WWII but upon digging into his life I came across a photograph of his wedding day in 1945 to Alice Gwendoline BULLOCK (aka Gwen) and although not overly clear when enlarged he did look a lot like “Steve” (top left in compilation image below). Even more encouraging was the fact the photograph was titled “Gwen & Steve wedding“. I contacted owner Anne, Gwen’s 1st cousin 1x removed who replied “It does look like him, but can’t be 100% sure as there is no one left to ask if he was in the Forces“.


Could researching deeper into Stephen Frederick FIELD and his family provide the much-needed evidence to support the theory that he and “Steve” are the same man?


Stephen Frederick FIELD [1920-1965]

Stephen Frederick FIELD was born on 12th Jun 1920 in Saul, Gloucestershire, and was the youngest of three children born to Fred Ellis FIELD and his wife Lucy Hilda BEARD. Saul is a little village situated on the mouth of the River Seven with canals nearby, and a great many of Stephen’s male ancestors were mariners and watermen.

Fred and Lucy were both born in Saul (Fred in 1883 and Lucy in 1886). Lucy was nearly six months pregnant when they married at St Mary De Crypt, Gloucester on 8th Apr 1909 and their daughter Gweneth was born exactly 15 weeks later. Fred was working as a baker at the time, with his own account at home. Four months after the 1911 census their second child was born (Graham Silvey FIELD, his middle name being Lucy’s mother’s maiden name). There was then a gap of nine years before their third and final child was born (Stephen) on 12th Jun 1920. Fred was age 33 when war was declared in 1914, but no military records have been discovered so he may have been in a reserved occupation.

  1. Gweneth Hilda Mary Field (b.22 Jul 1909 in Saul, Gloucestershire – d.1965 age 56) m.1835 to Thomas Clarke
  2. Graham Silvey Field (b.16 Aug 1911 in Saul, Gloucestershire – d.31 Oct 1983 age 72) m.1934 to Evelyn Lucy Beard
  3. Stephen Frederick Field (b.12 Jun 1920 in Saul, Gloucestershire – d.8 Aug 1965 age 45) m.1945 to Alice Gwendoline Bullock

The family moved just after Stephen was born to Llantrisant, Glamorgan, Wales where the following year Fred had found work as a chafferman at Britannic Colliery, Gilfach Goch (about 6 miles away). The family had moved back to Saul by the mid-1920s into a house called “Ivydene“. The 1920s must have been a hard time for Lucy as she lost her older brother Oscar in 1923 aged 39 (married with no children), then her younger brother Victor in 1926 aged 38 followed by her mother in 1928 aged 68. Victor, a master mariner by trade, had lost his first wife in 1920 leaving him with a three-year-old daughter (Mollie) to look after who was sent to live with Lucy and her family.

Fred and Lucy’s son Graham was the first to marry, which he did on 29th Sep 1934 to Evelyn Lucy BEARD (no relation to Lucy) in her hometown of Whitminster, Gloucestershire. Graham was working as a factory hand and his father Fred was employed as a general labourer. Graham and Evelyn’s daughter Megan Diana Field was born six months later on 26th Mar 1935, possibly in Saul. Later that year on 6th Jul Fred and Lucy’s daughter Gweneth, who had been working as a teacher at the local school for about ten years, married engineer Thomas CLARKE. Fred’s occupation was described as “general repairer” on their marriage record. The couple did not go on to have any children.

When the 1939 Register was taken in Oct, Fred, Lucy and Stephen were recorded at their home of Ivydene, along with Lucy’s father Enos Frederick BEARD (a retired mariner, age 79). Fred was working as a canal bank repairer (age 56) and Stephen was employed as a polisher for a plastics manufacturer (age 19). Graham, his wife Evelyn and their four-year-old daughter Megan were living close by on Passage Road where he was working as a capstan lathe setter operator. Gweneth and her husband Thomas had moved to Bangor-On-Dee, Denbighshire, Wales and were living in a property named “Gloucester“. Thomas was employed as a foreman millwright at the nearby Cadbury’s Milk Chocolate Factory.

Assuming “Steve” and Stephen are the same man, he enlisted or was conscripted after war was declared but it has not been possible to confirm this. His brother had a second child born on 10th Oct 1942 called Gordon Victor FIELD, and the right-hand portrait postcard was sent after this date as it was addressed to “Gray, Evelyn & Family” rather than “Gray, Evelyn & Megan” as previously. The long photograph captures a very relaxed “Steve” in his tropical uniform complete with pipe in mouth. His cap badge may be that of the Royal Artillery, but it is difficult to be sure.


The “Merry Christmas” postcard is what had people confused about Steve’s country of origin due to his slouch hat, which is commonly associated with the Australian uniform, but the British Army used these too when in hotter climates. He was also in his regiment’s football team.


Stephen married Alice Gwendoline BULLOCK (aka Gwen) during Jul-Aug 1945. Unfortunately, the Gloucestershire marriage records are not online for this year so it has not been possible to confirm Stephen’s occupation or residence at this time. His wife Gwen was born on 2nd Sep 1920 in Porth, Glamorgan, Wales and was the second of two children born to Frank Stanley BULLOCK and his wife Ellen Sarah POCKETT. Her brother sadly died shortly after he was born, so Gwen never knew him. The family were living in Arlingham close to Saul by 1921 where Gwen grew up.

This wonderful photograph captures Stephen and Gwen on their wedding day in 1945, with many thanks to Ancestry member Anne Leggatt, Gwen’s 1st cousin 1x removed.


Unless Stephen had been injured he would not have been demobilised for some time after the war ended in Europe on 8th May 1945, which may explain why Gwen was listed alone in the 1946 electoral register at High Street, Arlingham (likely living with her parents). Stephen was registered to vote in 1947 with his wife at High Street, Arlingham.

Stephen’s mother Lucy died in early 1949 aged 62 and the couple continued to live in Arlingham until 1955 when they moved in with his father Fred at Ivydene, Saul, possibly to look after him as he died later that year on 17th Dec aged 72. Stephen and Gwen made “Ivydene” their home until 1965 when they moved to the Post Office on Moor Street, Saul with Gwen’s parents who were registered to vote from there in 1864 having just moved from Arlingham.

Tragedy struck on 8th Aug 1965 when Stephen died suddenly whilst driving 160 miles away on the quay at Looe, Cornwall aged 45. His ashes were interred in Saul on 14th Aug and he was noted to be “of Ivydene“. Stephen and Gwen did not have any children during their marriage and he died without a will leaving an estate worth £3413 (over £56k today) to his widow. Stephen’s death was followed quickly by the death of his sister Gweneth later that year in Hereford, Herefordshire aged 56. In the meantime, Graham and Evelyn’s daughter Megan had married Francis J EDWARD in 1958 followed by the birth of their daughter and only child in 1960, who would be the closest relative to whom the WWII postcards could be returned.

Gwen remained living with her parents at the Post Office until late 1966, just over a year after the death of Stephen, when she remarried to the recently widowed local Saul man Walter George WALDEN. His first wife, Eleanor Flora GREENWAY, had tragically died in a car accident on 9th Sep 1964 as the couple was driving from Saul up to Richmond, Yorkshire for the wedding of their son. An inquest was held and Walter, who was working as a chauffeur to Mrs. N. A. MacDonald of Fretherne Lodge, Saul at the time, was exonerated of any blame. His son’s wedding went ahead, but very quietly. Gwen continued to run the Post Office for many years.

Graham died in Saul on 13th Oct 1983 aged 72 and his son Gordon died in mid-1988 aged 45, unmarried. Gwen’s second husband Walter died in early 1989 aged 74 (her parents died in 1972 and 1981). Graham’s widow Evelyn died suddenly in Saul on 19th Nov 1994 aged 84 and their daughter Megan died on 26th May 2002 aged 67. Gwen died two years later on 25th Aug 2004 aged 84.


CONCLUSION – Is “Steve” Stephen, or not?

The photograph of Stephen on his wedding day certainly looks like “Steve” from the postcards, as agreed by a relative of his wife Gwen. My gut says they are the same man but only circumstantial evidence has been found to support this theory.

Neither Stephen nor his sister Gweneth had children, and sadly Graham’s granddaughter died in 2020 aged 59 with no children of her own. This likely explains why her grandfather’s postcards from his brother ended up at an auction.

Contacting the Fretherne with Saul Parish Council could help confirm whether “Steve” and Stephen Frederick FIELD are the same person. Perhaps one of the village’s older residents may even remember the FIELD family and Stephen and be able to confirm for certain they are the same man. Either way, this has been an interesting and unexpected project to undertake but a shame no close living relatives could be found.


RESOURCES & REFERENCES

I use many different resources during my research, a majority of which I do online. For this project, I used:

If you have any questions regarding my research or would like anything added or amended, please contact me.

I’m available to hire to trace family trees and delve into the history of your house.

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