A man has fulfilled his grandmother's dying wish after travelling abroad and reuniting her in spirit with her veteran son who fell in the Second World War.

At the age of five, veteran Michael Flounders recalls a fishing trip with his father where he was told about how his uncle, Ernie, from Redcar, had perished at the age of 26 while stationed as a medic in Burma during the war.

He said the family held hope his uncle may have survived as his body was never found, and as a result, his 'nanny' kept all of his things for many years in the belief he would return.

Mr Flounders said this experience stayed with him, and after learning of his grandmother's deathbed wish that something more could have been done to remember her son, he set out to find his uncle's resting place.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Speaking on his motivation and efforts to uncover more about his uncle, he said: "As I grew up, that stayed with me to the point when military records became more available, I had done some research and was curious to learn more about him.

"We'd lost contact with my dad's family up in Yorkshire because all his siblings had passed away and my nanny, and when he himself passed away, I had nothing really to go on.

"Nanny was saying about how she wished the one child she never got to see grow to maturity, Ernie, that she wanted something to be done so he could be remembered.

"As far as we were aware, he was evacuating casualties from the front, he was a medic and they were going across a ravine and it collapsed and he was carrying a stretcher.

"The stretcher dragged him down with the body on it and indeed into the river, and that was it. That's all I knew."
Darlington and Stockton Times:

Mr Flounders, who has been confined to a wheelchair since suffering an injury at the age of 32, said he contacted the Royal British Legion (RBL) to travel to Burma and find out more about his uncle, and potentially locate his grave.

He said he was able to arrange a trip to the country through the RBL, who he credits as "amazing" for their support.

He said he was unsure regarding his decision to travel to the country, but was spurred on by his partner who joined him on the trip.

Upon their arrival, Mr Flounders said he received a certificate from the RBL showing the date of Ernest's death and the time he went missing.

Noticing the date of his uncle's death, he identified this matched up with the monsoon season and concluded the likely cause of his passing was due to the conditions causing the ravine's collapse.

He said his uncle was a member of the Prince of Wales West Yorkshire Regiment, who were predominantly recruited from around Redcar and North Yorkshire.

He said he was amazed by the exceptional way the graves were kept in Burma, and was able to spot and reach his uncle's name on the memorial.

"I just burst into tears, it was the most emotional experience you can possibly imagine" he added.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

He also noted how a poem he had written in memory of his uncle was read out by his partner during a remembrance service, after the priest had been left impressed by it.

Before leaving, they donated money and many other items to a local orphanage attached to the church.

Meanwhile, he said he was able to fulfill his Nanny's dream after his poem dedicated to his uncle, Ernest Flounders, was hung in the RBL's chapel of remembrance.

He said he was also able to place stones gathered from his grandmother's grave at his uncle's resting place, and place stones and posies from the RBL's memorial garden in Burma on her grave upon his return.

Upon returning to the UK and visiting a Redcar church, Mr Flounders was able to get his uncle recognised at a remembrance service and in a 'Burma star book.'

"It was like we brought him home, we literally brought him home" he added.

Mr Flounders has collected all of his experiences, including his time in a wheelchair, his journey, and his poems in his book 'The Year God Introduced himself with a Prayer for non-believers.'

Darlington and Stockton Times:

An excerpt from the poem dedicated to Mr Flounders uncle, Lance Corporal Ernest Flowers, can be found below:

For the sacrifices made for freedom, for peace

For fighting the fight and guns to cease

May our children remember the sacrifices made Both on the cross and in battle fields laid.

They gave their all in wars old and new

In the mark of the cross we will never forget you

We wear our poppies with honour and pride

For they grow where many fought and died

For it says all that no words can tell

We will remember the sacrifice of those who fell.