Series following the work of probate researchers. The team are trying to trace the relatives of David Johnson who died leaving an estate of 37,000 pounds.
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Today the Heir Hunters are racing to track down the heirs from an estate worth £37,000.
Their job now is to beat the competition
and be the first to find the long-lost relatives
who have no idea they could be in line for a windfall.
-Could they be knocking at your door?
I like where it's all staying in one area for us.
It's absolutely all over the place.
On today's programme -
the hunt for one man's descendants
leads the heir hunters on a nationwide search.
We're covering every county in the country,
and that's usually a very bad sign from our point of view.
The heir hunters investigate
the £225,000 estate of Arthur William Jones.
But in the process, uncover his tragic life story.
Though Arthur hadn't died in the Second World War,
his life really had ended as anybody else would have known it.
And how you could be entitled to unclaimed inheritance,
where heirs need to be found.
Could you be in line for a cash payout?
Every year in the UK over 300,000 people die without leaving a will.
If no relatives are found,
then any money that's left behind will go to the Government.
And last year they made £14 million from unclaimed estates.
But there are over 30,000 specialist firms competing to stop this happening.
They are the heir hunters and they make it their business
to track down missing relatives and help them claim their rightful inheritance.
The people that we trace are entitled to this money
and we like to try and do all that we can to make sure that they get it.
It's Thursday morning in London, and overnight the Treasury has
advertised a new list of names of unclaimed estates.
But today things are going to be a little different for staff
at heir hunting company Fraser & Fraser.
Partner Neil is using an alternative list of names that is only
published every two or three months.
So what we're working today are a few cases which are slightly
different than our standard Treasury cases.
They're Duchy of Lancaster cases.
The Duchy of Lancaster is actually the Queen, the Monarch.
Um, this means that the money
doesn't directly go to the Government, it goes to the Queen.
This actually goes into her own personal coffers.
The Duchy of Lancaster is one of two Royal Duchies in England.
The other is the Duchy of Cornwall, and these are traditionally
used to provide income for the British monarch.
This revenue comes from the people who die intestate within
certain parts of these districts, where the land is still owned by the Crown.
Another difference from Treasury cases is that Neil knows exactly what an estate's worth.
With Duchies, we still get given the value on the cases.
However, they're generally a lot smaller than the Treasury cases.
So 37,000 is still in our budget to, to work.
What Neil means is that chasing a case of £37,000 is financially viable for the company,
as long as they can turn it around quickly.
If they can keep the manpower, timescale and resources used to find David Johnson's heirs to a minimum,
it will mean there's a profit in it for the heir hunters.
Get in touch with Dave Hadley and send him there.
Wanting a speedy result,
Neil hands the estate over to senior case manager, David Pacifico.
David has over 40 years experience at heir hunting
and if anyone can turn this case around quickly, it's him.
Neil and David share what information they have so far.
-What was the date?
Initial research into the death records has given them
a speculative date of birth for the deceased -
a good starting point for the heir hunters.
I've got a Duchy case out today of a David Johnson. Bye.
David Johnson died aged just 53 on the 25th of January, 2010.
He left no will and no known relatives.
He died alone in his Manchester flat
and was discovered by friends who alerted the police.
It was a sad end for a man renowned for his sense of humour
and love of life.
His friend David Fisher remembers a vibrant character
who he first befriended over a crossword puzzle down the pub.
The first time I met him, 28 years ago. And he was happy, outgoing.
Loved his cigarettes, loved his beer. All the time, happy.
We had great laughs together.
In the week, David Johnson was a biochemist.
But on the weekends,
his greatest pleasure was walking in the great outdoors.
David and his friends ventured from the Yorkshire Moors to the Lake District,
looking for good walks and good pubs.
But at the end of 2009, David Johnson
dropped off his friend's radar and stopped visiting his old haunts.
Towards the end of David's life...
he became almost invisible.
You couldn't see him.
He disappeared, as though he'd moved to another part of the town.
But he hadn't.
He was actually suffering from an undiagnosed cancer and started avoiding his friends.
It was only by chance that David Fisher saw him in hospital.
But it was obvious his old friend didn't want to talk.
I think he'd pretended he hadn't seen me, yeah.
Which was a bit sad, really because, you know,
we weren't distant friends or anything.
We were pretty close at the time.
So maybe he was just a bit frightened of expressing himself.
When David Johnson finally sought medical help for his cancer,
he was told it was terminal.
And just two weeks later he died.
The day in the hospital was the last time I saw him alive.
I never got to say any goodbyes,
you know, or try and cheer him up a bit,
take him on a bit of a camping holiday.
You know, he sort of retired into himself. He wouldn't go anywhere.
David Johnson left behind friends who miss him.
But for the heir hunters, it's about whether he left any family as well.
What's the time now?
David Pacifico is already on the hunt for David's heirs.
The team's initial research into the death register suggest that
even although the deceased passed away in Manchester,
there was a David Johnson born in April, 1956, in London that could be their man.
Can I get Jo to go to Islington Registry Office?
David Johnson's birth certificate is crucial to the hunt.
On it will be his parents' names - a must-have when tracking down heirs.
David Pacifico puts in a call to researcher Jo who is
out on the streets of London, ready to visit any register office
the team needs her to.
Could you go to Islington Registry Office and pick up the birth,
hopefully, on one of them?
At this early stage, all the team's research is speculative,
including the deceased's date of birth.
Well, hopefully born on the 18th of April.
And if that's the case, we'd also have the parents names.
But we need that birth.
From the team's initial research,
they think David's parents could be an Alan Johnson and an Edna Daniels,
although they won't know this for sure
until they get their hands on his birth certificate.
But because David died relatively young,
there is a possibility his parents outlived him.
Roger is hard at work.
Well, hopefully, we've got the right David Johnson birth,
and if we have, I'm just seeing
if the parents are still alive as he's not that old a person.
So...I'll have a look around and see if there's any...
any Ednas and Alans still together.
Roger finds a potential marriage for David's parents,
but despite this, it's all still a bit confusing.
He was born in, er, London.
His potential parents are also married in London,
but he died in Manchester.
So he might have gone on his own, or they might have all gone,
so it's still a stab in the dark at the moment.
But case manager David Pacifico knows you have to speculate to accumulate,
and his team have found a potential last address for the deceased.
If it's correct then they may have tracked down a neighbour who knew David Johnson.
We're trying to trace the next of kin of a David Johnson.
At this stage,
any additional information will be welcomed by the heir hunters.
All right. Thank you. Bye-bye.
The phone call fills in details,
but details that don't help David Pacifico in his hunt for heirs.
Well, we've got the right address for the deceased,
but I believe he'd only been living there for a few years
and she had absolutely no knowledge where he came from, any family or anything like that.
Everything is still up in the air.
Are David Johnson's parents still alive?
And even if they are, is the team even chasing the right family?
All they can do is speculate and plan for every eventuality.
-How are we doing, Roger?
-We're trying to track down the parents, yeah.
-What about siblings?
-Doesn't look like there are any.
I think that if Jo picks up the birth, just obviously, you know, do it one bit at a time.
-Can you hold the door for me, sir, while you're there?
Fortunately, across the office, researcher Gareth is making headway.
Even though again, it's headway of a speculative nature.
Very speccy cos we haven't got any certificates.
We don't even know if the parents we've got of the deceased are correct,
but if it is, there's a Ronald born in 1931.
Um, having trouble finding a marriage for him. So, again, speccy.
I've possibly got his son,
so that would be a potential cousin of the deceased.
Er, trying to track him down now. His name's Ian Ronald Daniels.
To kick-start this hunt, the team are investigating the maternal line.
Using David's mother's maiden name of Daniels, Gareth has
potentially found Edna's birth in Sheffield.
If this is correct, it would make her parents
a Frederick Daniels and Agnes Brown.
He then searched for other children from their marriage
and has come up with a brother Ronald who has passed away
but left living children.
Gareth passes on his tentative lead.
He has two children - Stephen and Ian Ronald Daniels.
Born in Sheffield?
Despite this promising lead,
the team's hunt is still far from finished.
All the research into David's cousins could prove useless
if they discover his parents are still alive,
as they would be the rightful heirs to his estate.
To add to their worries, the speculative family tree
Gareth's putting together is all over the place.
We've got a deceased who died in Manchester, born in Islington,
potential parents Wood Green, which is fine, goes with the birth,
and then the mother potentially born in Yorkshire.
So, we're gradually covering the entire country.
Now, if my Ronald marriage is right, which is a long stretch, really,
then he married in Hertfordshire and his children are in Essex.
So, we're gradually covering every county in the country.
It's frustrating stuff
when you're working on a case you know is worth £37,000.
And Gareth isn't the only one feeling it.
I'm losing the will to live here.
There it is, see, Rhodri had it.
David now has a phone number for the potential cousin of the deceased.
But he's in for yet more frustration.
The phone number doesn't work. David is back to
waiting on the birth certificate
for confirmation that they are chasing the right family.
Researcher Joe has ordered the certificate
from Islington Register Office, but has to wait until they've found it.
How are you getting on with that birth, any...?
Right, on the basis that it's right,
we think the parents may have got married in Wood Green,
which is Haringey.
Would you mind possibly going over there afterwards?
Until David Pacifico can confirm his family tree and the cousins
they've found, he has frustratingly little
for his travelling heir hunter to do.
Bob Barratt is one of the company's squadron of senior researchers
who are willing to go
wherever a case takes them in the hunt for heirs.
Their goal is to meet face to face with long-lost relatives
and hopefully get them to sign up with the company.
But for the time being, Bob will have to wait like everyone else
for David Johnson's birth certificate.
It's crucial for confirming that
the basic details for this case are correct,
and not leading the heir hunters on a wild goose chase.
And, birth certificate aside, the team still doesn't know for certain
what's become of the deceased's parents.
If we get that second Christian name, we might be able to do a bit more,
but we are worried that she's still alive.
Born 1924, so she could be in a home.
Yet again, it's more guesswork, and until the team start getting
some firm answers on this case,
all their initial research could be in vain.
Later in the programme, the team may have found David's cousins,
but they still haven't found his mother.
My own feeling is that I think she could be alive.
Heir hunting companies don't always source unclaimed estates
from the Treasury or the two royal duchies. Sometimes, they will be approached by solicitors
acting on behalf of a deceased client.
But no matter where a case comes from,
the heir hunters' role is the same - to track down long-lost relatives
and inform them of their rightful inheritance.
Arthur William Jones died in January 2011 in a nursing home in Cardiff.
Arthur was 90 years old when he passed away,
and with no known relatives and no known will,
his mammoth £225,000 estate went unclaimed.
Arthur had been in College Fields Nursing Home for eight years,
and matron Rachel Kemp thought of him as one of the family.
Arthur, he was a gregarious sort of chap once you got him going!
And he loves singing songs that would have been war songs.
Daisy, Daisy was one of his favourites,
so if you wanted to get Arthur wound up,
if you started singing Daisy, Daisy, he would start singing with you.
But Arthur was unfortunately very ill.
Before College Fields, he'd been in a mental hospital since 1979...
..and had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and dementia.
Other than this, most of his past was a complete mystery to Rachel
-and the other staff.
-We knew nothing of Arthur's background,
only that he'd been a long, long-stay patient in Whitchurch Hospital
and that he'd been wounded in World War II.
That was the sum total of Arthur's history as far as we were concerned.
After his death,
Rachel and a solicitor appointed to Arthur's estate tried in vain
to trace any family he may have had.
Hitting a dead end, the solicitor decided to contact
heir-hunting company Fraser & Fraser to see
if they'd have more luck finding the heirs
to Arthur's sizeable £225,000 estate.
It's almost certainly going to be in Cardiff, isn't it?
Bob Smith is one of the company's case managers,
and the job of finding Arthur's heirs fell on his desk.
Obviously, the deceased had died without making a will,
and there were no family members, apparently,
that were in contact with him,
certainly no family members that visited him
-in the nursing home when he died.
-In the first instance,
Bob wasn't too happy about working a name like Arthur William Jones.
Jones is one of the most common surnames in Wales,
and solving cases with this name are notoriously difficult
for the heir hunters.
But Bob was given a head start.
Amongst the papers given to us by the solicitors was a copy of our deceased's birth certificate.
That obviously has his parents' names on it.
From there, we were able to identify their marriage in 1906.
Arthur's parents were George Jones and Laura Maud Rich.
Bob's next task was to identify
whether they had any children apart from Arthur.
Using the details gathered from the marriage certificate,
he trawled the birth records and struck gold.
There were eight children.
So, Arthur had in fact had four brothers and three sisters.
Bob's problem was they were all called Jones,
and all born in Wales, but luck was on his side again.
Amongst the deceased's papers were mention of three family members.
These were the initials and surnames of a suspected brother,
niece and nephew.
From the paperwork, Bob discovered the name J Jones matched up
to Arthur's brother on the 1911 Census records.
Now the team worked the niece's initials and surname.
By using the birth and marriage records,
they found who could be J Jones' daughter,
and therefore, Arthur's niece.
But it was a long shot.
On a hunch, we then located that lady,
and she did in fact turn out to be
the niece who was named in the deceased's papers.
Bob had found his first heir,
and she was able to tell him crucial information about the family.
And having interviewed her,
we confirmed that two of those children died in infancy,
so that left five siblings to our deceased
where there were possible descendents.
Arthur was from a military family,
and when the Second World War broke out in 1939,
both he and his brothers were at a prime age
for conscription into the Army.
But according to the niece Bob had found,
Arthur returned from the war a shell-shocked and broken man,
an affliction that was still haunting him into his 80s.
His trauma from the war was witnessed first hand
by his nursing home's matron Rachel Kemp.
Initially on coming in to us, Arthur was obviously a gentleman
who was quite disturbed, and would be able to have
a normal or semi-normal conversation with you
and then would get very distressed.
Would shout out about being in the trenches,
about Hitler was coming, things like that.
Over 50 years later,
and Arthur's experiences of war were still haunting him.
After his death, matron Rachel tried her hardest to piece together
the tragic story of his adult life
and what led him to College Fields Nursing Home.
We found out the fact that he was wounded at 24.
And although Arthur hadn't died in the Second World War,
his life really had ended as anybody else would have known it,
because he became homeless, he became isolated from his family.
Ended up in a mental hospital.
So, life had had major repercussions for Arthur
because he'd been a soldier.
So, what had happened to Arthur during his war years
that was so traumatic, it stayed with him for the rest of his life?
For heir hunter Bob Smith, this question would have to wait.
His aim now was to track down the children of Arthur's other siblings,
as they would also be the heirs to Arthur's £225,000 estate.
Later in the programme, the family Arthur had lost touch with remember
just how traumatised their late uncle was by the war.
He would want us all to get under the table and hide
and get very distressed if we didn't.
Heir hunters solve thousands of cases a year,
and millions of pounds are paid out to rightful heirs.
But not every case can be cracked.
The Treasury has a list of over 2,000 estates that have baffled heir hunters and remain unsolved.
Could you be the heir they've been searching for?
Could you be in line for a windfall worth hundreds,
thousands or even millions of pounds?
Estates stay on the list for up to 30 years,
and today we're focussing on three names.
Are they relatives of yours?
Margaret Grant-Paxton died in East Sussex in September 1996.
She passed away in the Eastbourne District General Hospital.
Does her distinctive double-barrelled name mean
anything to you?
Or did you know Herbert Fallows Worsnop?
He died in March 2001 in Hampshire.
He may have passed away in the south of England,
but the vast majority of Worsnops live in and around Yorkshire.
If no heirs are found to his estate, the money will go to the Government.
Or finally, Mabel Presence,
who died in Camberwell Green in London back in 1994.
Are you Mabel's heir? Her surname is extremely rare in the UK.
If the names Margaret Grant-Paxton, Herbert Fallows Worsnop
or Mabel Presence mean anything to you,
then you could have a windfall on its way.
David Johnson died aged 53 in January 2010.
He passed away alone in his Manchester flat
and left no will and had no known relatives.
David had been diagnosed with terminal cancer,
and died just two weeks later.
He'd been ill for a while, but had kept it to himself,
and was loath to seek help.
He never actually went to a doctor's, and in that case,
when he did go to the doctor, it was a bit too late for the poor man.
And sadly, he passed away very quickly after that.
It was an unceremonious death for a man who loved life.
At the local pub where the two friends met regularly,
David was renowned for his dry humour and quick mind.
Everyone would be talking and he'd just say something off the cuff
and it'd throw everybody into turmoil then.
We'd all be laughing and joking.
He was a very bright, intelligent person.
In London, the heir hunters are working
David Johnson's £37,000 estate.
Because David died in Manchester, his name has been released
on the Duchy of Lancaster's list, not the Treasury's.
Unclaimed estates from areas of land owned by the monarchy
in the district of Lancaster go to the Crown, not the Government.
But the way the company tracks down heirs is exactly the same.
I've got a Duchy case out today of a David Johnson. Bye.
-Senior case manager David Pacifico and his team...
..are having a nightmare trying to confirm
even the most basic of David's personal details.
Why is nothing working today?
With no birth certificate yet for the deceased,
they're using a family tree based on an educated hunch.
So far, using the maternal line, they've managed to trace
but not yet contact two cousins in Essex who will be heirs
if the team can prove David's parents have passed away.
Not an easy task.
Born 1924, so she could be in a home.
But across the office, things have taken a positive turn.
Researcher Gareth thinks he's found a phone number for David Johnson's mother's brother's widow.
Got your tree?
Bit of a mouthful, but it's music to David Pacifico's ears.
We're trying to trace a particular family of the name of Daniels.
Now, would I be right in saying that you were married to a Ronald Daniels?
And did Ronald have a sister Edna?
Do you know whether or not she's still alive
or anything at all about her family at all?
Finally, even without David's birth certificate,
the team has confirmation
they've been chasing the right family all along
and their initial guesswork was spot on.
David Pacifico gets as many details as he can from the ex-sister-in-law.
-But there's one answer she can only guess at.
She thinks that Edna herself may have passed away,
but she's not certain about it.
Until they confirm whether David Johnson's parents are alive or dead,
the heir hunt is still up in the air.
David brings Gareth up to speed.
Basically, this is all correct. Yeah. Ronald was one of two children.
Edna was married to Alan Johnson. They only had one child, David.
She says that Edna went into a home, thinks she may have died,
but she's obviously not certain.
So, we still could be talking about a mother.
But the question is who deals with her affairs, if that's the case.
All right. OK, bye.
Downstairs, the team double their efforts to find a death certificate
for Edna Johnson. Upstairs, David has his own thoughts about it.
-My own feeling is that I think she could be alive.
-Only time will tell.
So, while he waits for confirmation on Edna's predicament,
David uses a phone number given to him by the sister-in-law
and puts in a call to a cousin of the deceased.
We're looking into an estate of somebody
that has recently passed away -
in this case we're talking about her son.
Yeah. Your cousin, in other words.
The cousin may be a potential heir, but that will only be known
if he can shed some light on what's happened to Edna.
OK, thank you, bye-bye. Bye.
Unfortunately, the cousin is still just a potential heir,
as he can't give David any definitive answers on Edna.
But there are other snippets of information he's provided
that will help the hunt.
That was the cousin. He knew that David was last known to be up north.
He thought Manchester or Newcastle,
but thought it might have been Manchester, which is right.
His mother lived in Blackpool, and his father was also Blackpool.
His father's definitely dead.
He knows that Edna went into a home,
so with Blackpool, I will hopefully ask them to see if they can check
to find out if we have got any possibilities of deaths in Blackpool.
That now cuts it down an awful lot.
If there's no death, that means that she's possibly still alive.
The location of Blackpool could be the key that unlocks this case.
David heads downstairs to pass on his latest lead about Edna
and her late husband Alan.
Gareth, can you see if you can identify
a death of Alan Johnson in Blackpool 22 to 25 years ago?
But Edna was also Blackpool.
Can we pick her up on any electoral roll or death?
This new information allows the heir hunters
to significantly narrow their search.
Gareth gets stuck into researching the records in Blackpool
and strikes gold.
-Edna, otherwise Edna Laetitia...
-Oh, it's right?
..dies on 8th May 1997.
So, if that's correct, as it looks good,
we'll then be back to this cousin again.
The cousins look like they're going to be entitled.
So, one side of the family is known, but of course,
we then have to look at the Johnson side,
because the father may well have had brothers and sisters
and, subsequently, children.
They may have had children,
so there is unknown possible other beneficiaries on this.
Gareth switches his attention to
David Johnson's father's family tree.
And now David Pacifico knows for sure that
the deceased's two cousins are heirs,
he puts in a call to travelling heir hunter Bob Barratt,
who has been on stand-by all morning.
He lets him know he potentially has a meeting for him in Essex.
Bob Barratt is available, traveller,
so I know I've got somebody that can go.
Happy things are finally falling into place,
David lets the rest of the office know the good news.
We're up to date on one of the Duchy cases.
But things are never that easy.
It turns out the two cousins are willing to meet Bob,
but it can't be today.
David hurriedly organises a meeting for the following day.
The good news is that neither cousin has been contacted by
any competing heir-hunting companies.
David Pacifico hopes it stays that way.
I haven't come across any competition yet,
but that doesn't mean to say it may not come.
It's day two of the hunt.
In the office, the team are still trying to work out
if the paternal side of David's family will produce any heirs.
Meanwhile, a travelling heir hunter has made it to the meeting
with David's two cousins.
At the moment, they are the only two heirs on David's mother's side
to his £37,000 estate.
Bob Barratt is now tied up on other cases,
so David Pacifico has drafted in Dave Hadley.
-Hello there, Mr Daniels?
Hi, Dave Hadley from Fraser & Fraser.
First on the agenda is cross-checking with the heirs
the information the office has passed on to him.
-And where was that? Was it in Blackpool?
-That was in Blackpool.
For the cousins, the news of David's death has come as quite a shock,
knowing he was only in his early 50s.
Didn't even know David was ill, how he died.
Don't know, but we can find that out.
Both cousins are happy to sign with the heir hunters.
This means the company can help them
in making a claim to the Duchy of Lancaster,
and are then entitled to commission on the cousins' share of the estate.
We hadn't talked in 20 years,
it's a bit of a surprise to get a phone call out of nowhere.
Despite not having spoken for decades,
there was no big family bust-up or arguments.
The cousins speculate it was more geographic than anything.
We had different lifestyles, totally.
He liked living in Manchester, we like living in the south.
The two cousins, Stephen and Ian,
will now be entitled to a proportion of David's £37,000 estate.
But it's an estate they will now share.
In the weeks following the initial hunt,
David Pacifico and his team traced an aunt on the paternal side.
She's in her 90s and is the final heir to inherit on this case.
David Johnson may have lost contact with his family
in the decades before his death,
but the friends he left behind can give them some idea
as to the type of man he'd become.
We'd all be laughing and joking,
David would come out with some real crackers, Dave would.
He'd get everyone laughing within a few minutes.
Everyone looked up to him, he was a dead decent chap.
Arthur William Jones died in a Cardiff nursing home aged 90.
He left no will
and no known relatives to inherit his £225,000 estate.
Most of his past life was a mystery to those who cared for him
in his final years.
We knew nothing of Arthur's background,
only that he'd been a long, long-stay patient in Whitchurch Hospital.
And that his experiences in the Second World War
had traumatised him for life.
He would get very distressed at times and would should out
about being in the trenches, about Hitler was coming, things like that.
The job of finding Arthur's heirs fell to
probate researcher Bob Smith.
Hunting heirs to an Arthur William Jones born in Wales is a tall order,
as Jones is one of the most common Welsh surnames.
Despite this, Bob discovered Arthur had had seven siblings,
five of which had survived into adulthood.
Using paperwork that came with the estate,
Bob found his first heir, a niece of Arthur's,
and her family knowledge helped him move his hunt forward.
It is almost certainly going to be in Cardiff, isn't it?
Using Arthur's mother's name of Laura Maud,
he searched the birth records
and found a sister of Arthur's who was also called Laura Maud.
She had stayed in Cardiff, and had two children.
One of whom was Lorraine Sergeant, another of Arthur's nieces.
She was able to provide great information in relation to all of the deceased's family
and particular about deceased himself and his life.
Niece Lorraine may have been extremely helpful to Bob,
but initially the whole thing came as a shock to her.
My immediate reaction was, "nothing to do with us."
My sister phoned up and said about it, we were both dumbfounded to be quite honest.
Right out of the blue.
Lorraine used to occasionally bump into Arthur around Cardiff,
but lost touch.
Her fondest memories of her uncle went back to her childhood.
He used to come and stop with my grandmother
and very fond memories of him at that stage.
But he was a very sick person.
Yes, he had problems stemming from the war.
It turned out Arthur had enlisted in the army in 1939,
aged just 19-years-old,
just before the outbreak of the Second World War.
At this stage, he was a healthy young man.
He was in the First Battalion Welsh Regiment
and was initially based in Palestine before being posted to Egypt
and the infamous El Alamein
as part of the Allies' Western Desert campaign.
El Alamein is a town in northern Egypt where between 1940 and 1942
crucial battles were fought by the Allies against Italian and German forces.
The Allies ultimately succeeded and halted their advance into Egypt,
eventually forcing the Italians and Germans West.
It was in this world that a 21-year-old Arthur found himself.
It appears that something happened during this period of conflict that deeply affected him.
What it was is not exactly known by the family,
but niece Lorraine does remember one story.
We understood him to have been out on a patrol.
His best friend had stepped on a landmine and been blown to pieces.
He was affected by that from then onwards.
Once described as an honest, sober and hard-working soldier,
by 1943 his military record had begun to deteriorate.
In March 1945,
Arthur was declared permanently unfit for military service.
Statistics suggest that as many as a fifth of World War II veterans
suffered from some sort of emotional trauma, and that is just the ones who reported it.
People experiencing things that they had never experienced before,
thinking the world is a benevolent place
and then seeing how awful human beings can be towards each other.
But then also serving in conflict after conflict,
so it is a general wearing down of their capacity to be able to cope as well.
The experience of trauma and how it presented itself was not particularly well understood
although it was better that it had been.
But also the fact that these were men of their era
and were unlikely to have admitted to experiencing emotional distress.
The kinds of symptoms that they would have exhibited
when they came back from war might have been anger,
they might be acting out elements of their experiences
because they were feeling as if they were back in that situation.
not being able to perform their job effectively, becoming very withdrawn,
all of those sort of symptoms would have been noticeable.
As a child, Lorraine can clearly remember her uncle displaying signs of his trauma,
and also the lengths the family would go to to accommodate his illness.
When the aeroplanes went over or there was any police noises or
anything he would want us all to get under the table and hide
and get very distressed if we didn't.
He was a very nervous person.
And despite the family's best efforts to care for Arthur,
it eventually proved too much for his mother to cope with.
She found it very, very difficult, not being able to take him out
for fear of him, you know, having a bad turn or something like that.
Then he went to stay at the hospital.
Arthur and his family's situation were sadly all too common in the post-war years.
He was just one of many men who found it extremely difficult
to slot back into everyday life.
It would have had a very shattering effect on the family,
they would never have been able to have the relationships
they would have liked to have had with each other.
Having an uncle whose life was effectively over at 24
and whose illness meant normal relationships were nearly impossible
is a tragedy that caused Arthur to finally disappear
from his family's lives.
All the things he has missed, you know, he never had his own family, never had his own home.
He was just forgotten, to be quite honest with you.
Even from my point of view, I forgot about him
once my mother passed on and... He just got forgotten.
It wasn't just Arthur's heirs who were saddened by their late uncle's life.
For Bob Smith, Arthur's story also struck a chord.
Presently in the media there is a lot of coverage about soldiers
that fight on behalf of their country in all parts of the world
and how they are looked after, there are many charitable causes,
quite rightly, for those soldiers.
But of course, Arthur himself was a victim of the generation he was brought up in.
They obviously didn't receive the same sort of support as they do know and I find that quite upsetting.
Overall, Bob found 13 heirs to Arthur's £225,000 estate.
An estate that could potentially have been made up of over 60 years worth of untouched war pension.
The legacy of the Second World War ruined both men and their families.
And for Lorraine, Arthur's life is a sad indictment
of the lack of support for men who served their country.
He never had nothing, I feel really, really strongly that these people, these boys,
because he was only a boy, he wasn't a grown man, he wasn't...
He hadn't seen nothing of life, and he came back and he was just left
and I think it was such a shame, a real waste of a life, really.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
The team are trying to trace the relatives of David Johnson who died leaving an estate of 37,000 pounds. The search goes nationwide, but will the team find any heirs at the end of their extensive hunt?
The team also investigate the case of Arthur Jones who died leaving a 225,000 pounds estate. Arthur was an ex-soldier who was haunted by his memories of war and the heir hunters uncover his tragic life story.
Plus, details of unclaimed estates where heirs still need to be found.