Win £1,000 with Camelot. See this week's Recorder

On sale October 16

First World War: ‘Most bizarre thing ever’ - man discovers family fought on both sides

18:59 06 August 2014

Stuart Forster had family on both sides during the first world war

Stuart Forster had family on both sides during the first world war


Millions of people have this week been paying tribute to relatives who fought for their country in the First World War - but not many can say they had family on both sides.

One man who can is Stuart Forster, of Shepherds Close, Chadwell Heath, who recently discovered his paternal great uncles fought for the Germans in the war, while his maternal great grandfather was in the British army.

“It’s the most bizarre thing ever,” said the 42-year-old. “The Royal Family had in-fighting with Kaiser Wilhelm II and King George V being cousins, and so did mine.”

Stuart’s paternal great grandfather was German-born Maximilius Schleif, who moved to England in 1912. He was the youngest of six, and his brother’s stayed behind in Germany before joining the army.

At around the same time, in December 1915, his Romford-based mother’s grandfather, private Alexander Pearce, joined the British army. He was discharged in March 1918 after having his leg amputated and losing a finger, and went back to his job as a painter.

Stuart has little information about his great uncles’ involvement, although he “can’t help but wonder” what happened to them.

He mused: “Did they survive? Were they injured? How did they cope with defeat? At the moment, I have so many questions, but unfortunately not many answers.”

So how did he feel on Monday when the nation was marking the 100-year anniversary of the UK’s entrance into the war?

“Very sad. Both sides of my family were fighting in battles for countries they believed were right, and possibly fighting each other.

“What if the German side of the family were responsible for launching the shells that caused my great grandfather to lose his leg and finger?”

Read more:

First World War centenary: The New Zealand and Maori soldiers who enlivened Hornchurch during the conflict

Romford pictures: Havering commemorates 100 years since Britain joined the First World War


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 15:31
Released CCTV images.

CCTV images have been released of two youths police would like to identify after a 12-year-old boy was threatened in a subway in Romford.

Yesterday, 14:56
Ben with one of his furniture designs

An innovative Hornchurch designer has been chosen to showcase his work at one of the world’s top design events.

Yesterday, 11:38
Straight Road, Romford

Detectives are appealing for information after a man was slashed across his face when he answered a knock on his door.

Yesterday, 07:00
The Ferry Lane roundabout. Picture: Google StreetView

The director of a haulage firm that was a “very severe risk” to road safety has been banned from the industry for five years.

Mon, 17:16
Broadford Primary School.

A man has been arrested on suspicion of making a racist rant a Harold Hill primary school.

Mon, 15:46
Dagnam Park Drive Picture: Google Maps

A consultation has been launched by Havering Council into whether Dagnam Park Drive should become a 20mph zone as part of a series of proposed safety improvements for the road.

Mon, 14:04
Cllr Keith Prince is the Conservative candidate for Redbridge and Havering in the London Assembly elections

Born and bred in Havering and a former Redbridge council leader, Keith Prince, wants to stand up for the two boroughs.

Mon, 12:53
Perri's receipt shows the charge for womens clothes at the top

Most shoppers have accepted the 5p charge for plastic bags in supermarkets, but £12 for four of them is another story.

Most read news

News from your area


Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.


Amazon: Everything you want to buy all in one place!

With £1,500 to spend online at Amazon, there’s really nothing you can’t buy.

You'll be stocked up on toiletries  for a while!

Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more.

Digital Edition

Read the Romford Recorder e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder