ONE of Darwen’s last remaining links to the First World War has been broken with the death of Alexandra Youd, just months before her 100th birthday.
Alexandra was named after the father she never knew, Private Alex Done, of Lord Street, who died from his wounds three months before she was born.
A shunter on the railways, he had married Sarah Turner in June, 1914, and two days after war was declared, he caught a bus to Preston and joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.
Later that month he was fighting in the trenches and in November he was shot in the groin and hip and spent more than seven hours in the icy rain and the thick mud of ‘No Man’s Land’ before being rescued and evacuated to England.
In the December, he died from pneumonia as a result of his wounds and his young wife was left to grieve and bring up their baby daughter alone.
Private Done was the first soldier to be buried in Darwen Cemetery and hundreds turned out for the funeral service.
At 18, Alexandra married Bob – well-known in local sporting circles as a player for Darwen FC – and they had six children, although two died in infancy.
She had a daughter, Kath, and sons Derek, Alan and Jeff.
But as she grew up, she could never recall her brave father ever being spoken of within the family as the grief was still too raw years later.
Her daughter, Kath Smith, of Avondale Road, said: “Mum was really independent until the last few years.
“It must have been very difficult for her as she was growing up, but she brushed it all aside and got on with her life.”
Mrs Youd died at St James House care home in St James Crescent, Darwen.
She lived in Walmsley Street for many years and then Owlet Hall Road. She had been in failing health for a short time. Mrs Youd held a number of part-time jobs throughout her life but concentrated on bringing up her children.
The family has always had a close association with St James’s Church and Mrs Youd was a long-standing member of the Mothers’ Union.
n Alex Done’s story is one of several with a connection to the Great War in a new book by the Friends of Darwen Library, which will be launched at a coffee morning on July 26.
Harold Heys, author of ‘Darwen and its Characters’, said: “We had all been hoping that Alexandra would make it to 100. It is very sad.”