IT'S October 24, 1917.

William Palliser Bruford knows he's in for another hellish day.

There will be more of the seemingly endless shellfire whizzing around. More mud. More cold. More death.

He pauses to think of his loving family, relieved they at least are safe on the outskirts of Taunton.

William doesn't want them to know how dreadful life in the trenches has been, how many of his comrades have been butchered.

"Concentrate," he tells himself. "It could be me next if I'm not careful."

But William's thoughts return to his childhood watching the workers on his father's farm at Nerrols on long summer days during the school holidays.

Now his wife Hilda and their three daughters are at Nerrols anxiously awaiting his next letter.

That letter will never arrive.

Instead, the next notification they receive is the news that William has been killed on Belgian soil that same day in the third Battle of Ypres.

The bloody First World War battlefields would have been a far cry from the peaceful rural setting of Cheddon Fitzpaine.

But now, more than 100 years on, a living memorial is being created to William and the other 11,280 men and women from Somerset who lost their lives in the First World War.

The peace and tranquility of a field full of saplings at Nerrols Farm is in stark contrast to the foreign field where William lost his life.

But as the only person form the parish of Cheddon Fitzpaine to perish in the conflict, the people behind The Somerset Wood are keen for him to become the face of the wood, soon to contain more than 3,500 saplings.

Once completed, it will hold 11,281 trees to forever act as a poignant memory of those Somerset lives sacrificed for their country.

The wood, an initiative between Cheddon Fitzpaine and West Monkton Parish Councils and Somerset County Council, will dominate Maidenbrook Country Park.

Teams of volunteers are helping to create the wood, which has widespread support from all over the county.

Cheddon Fitzpaine Parish Council's Cllr Mike Batsch said: "The new wood is about the people of Somerset past, present and future, and so the two stakeholder parish councils set about searching for a personal connection that would bring it to life among the local community.

"They discovered that, thankfully, just a single life was lost to the rural parish of Cheddon Fitzpaine in The Great War.

"That life was taken from 37-year-old William Palliser Bruford in Belgium during the Third Battle of Ypres.

"When it also transpired that William was raised on the old Nerrols Farm – the very ground upon which the commemorative wood is now taking shape – there was no doubt that William’s should be ‘the face of the Somerset Wood’."

But sadly William is currently a face without a face as to date no photographs of William have surfaced - which is where Mike is hoping someone could help out.

He said: "Unfortunately efforts to gather information and the all-important photograph from parish residents have proved unsuccessful and the two parish councils are now initiating a wider search to put a face to the name.

"Wherever they may be, William’s descendants will surely be pleased and proud to learn about what’s now being done in his name."

William was born in March 1880, the son of Robert and Elizabeth Coles Bruford, of Kilkenny Villas, in Taunton.

Robert, who owned Nerrols farm, was wealthy enough to send young William firstly to Queen's College, Taunton, and later Blundell's School, in Tiverton.

William and Hilda took their young family to live in Canada and when his adopted country entered the war, he enlisted in the 21st Battery, 4th Brigade of the Canadian Fiueld Artillery, as Gunner 339462.

En-route to active service, he re-installed his family at Nerrols Farm, where they would be with their nearest and dearest and closer to the Continental European theatre of war.

William would never return to his childhood home.

Hilda and the girls' worst nightmare became reality when he died.

His body lies buried in the White House Cemetery near to where he lost his life.

Mike said: "I find myself becoming personally involved with our William and I'm not sure why. It's almost as if he has found me.

"Perhaps he is wondering from beyond the grave why he will not have his own tree rooted in the soil his family used to farm because his name does not appear in the Wells Cathedral memorial listing.

"I do so hope that, between us, we can put that omission right in the shape of tree number 11,282."

Anyone with any information about William, that elusive photo or his descendants should contact Mike Batsch on 01823 272376 or at