Brilliant Datchet musician killed in conflict is remembered

Medals won in the First World War by an unskilled labourer who was also a brilliant musician have been returned to his descendants – after being bought at a car boot sale in Datchet 30 years ago.

The amazing saga began when Brian Langston, who used to live in Wraysbury, rediscovered medals he had bought all those years ago while clearing out some old trunks.

They belonged to a man called Philip Tarrant who has perished in the terrible conflict.

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Brian had retired to the South of France but wandered if Philip might have descendants who would appreciate the return of the medals.

An internet search on the DVS website led Brian’s wife Sharon to find a photo of Philip and moving extracts from his diaries.

Brian said: “It made it very personal.”

DVS helped them track down Philip’s granddaughter Teresa Bruce.

The medals had been sold after Philip’s widow left them to her oldest son.

Teresa and her family had been searching for them for many years. Believing them to be completely untraceable, they had practically given up hope of ever finding them. The news from France was a bolt out of the blue.

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A ‘Covid-secure’ meeting was arranged on Datchet Village Green beside the WWI memorial where Philip is commemorated.

Philip was an unskilled labourer who was also a talented musician, member of the church choir and church organist who gave private piano lessons and played the violin at home entertainments.

Teresa, her husband Paul and their extended family, including Philip’s great great-grandchildren were there to meet Brian and Sharon and they enjoyed an impromptu, socially-distanced picnic on The Green.

Brian said: “It was a very tearful, emotional and joyous occasion.

“Clearly the return of Philip’s medals and papers meant a great deal to the family. Although I am not related to Philip, I felt strangely close to him on the day and am pleased to have played a tiny part in helping to keep his legacy alive. Teresa bought me a lovely poppy brooch which I will wear with pride on Remembrance Day and think of Philip.”

Slough Observer | News