A HUNDRED years after a County Durham soldier died in an Italian hospital, historians are appealing for help to trace his descendants.

Thomas Langan, from Middlestone Moor, Spennymoor, died in Turin, where he is buried along with 15 other soldiers.

His cause of death is not recorded but most died from illnesses such as malaria or flu after fighting ‘Away from the Western Front’– which is the name of a Heritage Lottery Funded charity project which researched their stories and pays tribute to the men.

Project director Lyn Edmonds said: "Having survived the First World War to see the Armistice, he didn't die until December 4, 1918 which is, in itself, sad. But he and the other 15 are not forgotten."

The soldiers, known as the Turin Men, were remembered in Turin on November 11 this year by an Italian teacher, Emma Pace, and her students who have been learning about the men and their lives during the First World War. They linked up with the UK-based charity to create an online tribute and book of remembrance, and visited the graves on the centenary.

Mr Langan was the husband of Mary E Langan, of 7 Durham Street, and joined up as a driver with the Royal Field Artillery.

He went to France in January 1915 and was with the 12th Corps Ammunition Column and, though his service record has not survived, it is known they were in Salonika at the time of his death.

His entry in the Army Registers of Soldiers Effects, 1901 to 1929, records his death at the 29th Stationary Hospital in Turin. His widow is named along with his children Ivy, born on December 14, 1912, and John, born on October 27, 1914.

Mrs Edmonds said: "Many men like Thomas were making their way home when they got poorly and died.

"We would like to make contact with any descendants to learn more about him, hopefully find a photograph and share details of the event which attracted much publicity in Turin in the newspapers and on local TV. We were able to contact the families of two men who sent a photo and a card for the grave.

"To find any missing links, information and tell the men's descendants they are being remembered would be fantastic."

Email Mrs Edmonds at lyn@awayfromthewesternfront.org and the project website is awayfromthewesternfront.org