Leeds nostalgia: Leeds woman’s bid to find ‘dead’ husband

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Dateline: September 4, 1948: On this day 70 years ago, a Leeds woman went in search of her husband, who had been declared ‘dead’ for the previous five years.

Charlotte Wallace, 37, of Clark Terrace, Leeds, told an Evening Post report of her plans to visit Birmingham in a bid to solve a riddle, which made her doubt her husband died in the Western Desert in 1943.

The article went on: “A man at Birmingham whom the War Office now believes to be Leading Aircraftman George Wallace, is known as ‘Gunner Chrisp’, a window cleaner. He was found in the desert in May 1943, shell-shocked, incoherent and suffering from loss of memory.”

He was discharged from hospital in Birmingham in 1945, after which he set up a business in the suburbs of Hockley and Cotteridge.

Mrs Wallace said: “Although I have many doubts, photographs I have seen of this man are very like my husband. I shall know as soon as I see him - we were married 18 years.

“Last Tuesday I got a widow’s pension from the Air Ministry. The next day a girl at work brought me a newspaper and I read about John Chrisp.

“If I had the money then I would have gone straight to Birmingham but on £3 a week I have to keep myself and my daughter.”

George Wallace was born in Leeds and attended Richmond Hill School and later worked in the Despatch department at the Yorkshire Post.

‘Gunner Chrisp’ was the name given by doctors to the soldier rescued from the desert. They fought to save his memory and originally thought he was from New Zealand.

Whatever happened to George and Charlotte Wallace? Did they meet up? Did Charlotte find her husband? We’d love to find out...