Carvings trace troops’ family trees
A STUDENT has become an expert in military tree carvings, studying inscriptions engraved into trunks by troops during the two world wars as part of her archaeology PhD.
Often using just initials or a date, Chantel Summerfield traces the military and family history of the soldiers involved to recreate wartime stories.
She has traced soldiers stationed on Salisbury Plain and Tommies on the Western Front in France using the carvings, known as “arborglyphs”.
Ms Summerfield, 24, said: “You can walk down the streets and see the carvings on the trees and not think anything much of it, but when you actually look into it, it tells you an awful lot.”
One story Ms Summerfield traced stems from a tree she found on Salisbury Plain which had been inscribed by an American GI as he waited for the D-Day invasions.
The carving simply read: “Frank Fearing – Hudson, Massachusetts, 1945”, and was followed by the name Helen.
Ms Summerfield was able to track down Barbara Fearing, of Hudson, Massachusetts, whose parents were Frank and Helen.
Frank, who had married Helen secretly hours before leaving for the D-Day invasion, survived the war and lived until 2001.
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