“READING last Saturday's Memories, I was blown away to find my great uncle named among your list of 150 Darlington men killed in the First World War whose names are missing from the Darlington war memorial,” says Jacqui Carbert.

He was Private John James Earls, who was born in Darlington in 1888 and died near Ypres on May 24, 1915. Even more poignantly, his brother, William, was listed “missing presumed dead” on the same day in the same action, and he, too, is not on the memorial at the hospital.

The Northern Echo: The Earls brothers

Their father, William, was a rail straightener with the North Eastern Railway, and, over the course of the years, the family lived in Cleveland Street, Howard Street and Vulcan Street – all on Albert Hill. A family story says that William ran his own steel business until he was struck on the head by a steel beam.

By the 1911 census, the family had moved to Coxhoe, and it was from there that John joined the 5th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. William Jnr, meanwhile, had married a Middlesbrough girl, Florence, and he enlisted in the Yorkshire Regiment from there.

They both fell in the Second Battle of Ypres as their regiments battled to gain control of Bellewaarde Ridge, near Ypres. Any high ground in the flatlands of Flanders gave whoever controlled it an advantage, and so, from the trenches below, the British spent many weeks trying to knock the Germans off it.

“Some years ago, I attended an exhibition of the Coxhoe History Society where I discovered a letter, written by Sgt William Dobson of 5DLI to his wife and parents,” says Jacqui. “The letter was printed in the Durham County Advertiser of June 4, 1915, “and it explained the circumstances of John Earls’ death.”

Sgt Dobson wrote: "I am going on alright but have not had time to write these last few days because our lads have been in action again. They only came out a couple of days ago after being in the firing line for 15 days and nights. One night they were going to be relieved, but the Germans started to use that awful poisonous gas and made an attack on our lines and the boys that were not gassed had a hand to hand fight with them.

“The Huns came dressed in Khaki that they had stripped from our dead and wounded. We lost a lot of men but the Germans lost twice as many because our artillery mowed them down like grass before a reaper. Our guns saved the situation. They were simply great.

“When we got back into camp it felt a bit queer going round looking for old faces and finding them missing but it can't be helped. Those who went down died fighting like heroes.

“Those killed belonging our place that I knew were: J Earls, Coxhoe, and Dick Garrod, Metal Bridge (not confirmed yet), but there are a lot of Coxhoe lads in hospital wounded and gassed.

“I hope they will get all right again."

A family story says that William was injured in the fighting, but a stretcher party bearing another casualty shouted over to him: “We’ll be back for you.” However, when they returned, there was only a large shell crater where William had been lying.

Neither John nor William’s body was found, and so their names are on the Menin Gate, which is the huge memorial in Ypres which bears the names of 54,596 men who were known to have perished somewhere in the mud of Flanders but whose bodies were never retrieved.

The Northern Echo: The Menin Gate at Ypres this week: the Earls brothers names are on it, but misspelt

The Menin Gate at Ypres this week: the Earls brothers names are on it, but misspelt

But on the Menin Gate, both brothers’ names are misspelt as “Earles”, and on the Coxhoe war memorial, they are both wrongly written as “Earl”. At least, though, they are remembered.

The Northern Echo: Coxhoe war memorial after its revamp in 2009. The Earls brothers name are on it, but misspelt

Coxhoe war memorial after its revamp in 2009. The Earls brothers name are on it, but misspelt

“Please thank your researchers for finally acknowledging John Earls and for reporting him in Memories,” finishes Jacqui. “We are so proud of them, and proud they are on the Coxhoe memorial, although I would like to put the s on the end of their surname!”