APPEALS for information about a mystery bayonet, used during the First World War, have prompted keen interest for a Hereford man whose father carried a similar weapon in the trenches a century ago.

As with so many servicemen, Royal Scots' Private Fred Haycock, who was badly injured three times during conflict at Ypres, Arras and the Somme, rarely talked about his experiences at the Front. But he brought home with him his bayonet, which sadly disappeared some years ago.

When his son, 80-year-old Ray Haycock, who lives at Hinton with his wife, Brenda, read in the Hereford Times that Kington Museum was hoping to find out more about a bayonet in its wartime exhibition, he got in touch. Unable to make the journey to Kington, as Mr Haycock suffers from two forms of cancer and a heart condition, museum volunteers took the exhibit to his home.

Though the 18-inch long bayonet is unlikely to have been the model kept by his family for many years, seeing it has come as an emotional reminder about his father's war service.

"I believe this bayonet is not as substantial as the one my father carried, but it is very similar," said Mr Haycock. "Seeing this has brought back a lot of memories."

He added: "It is the same vintage, the same era, but I think Dad's bayonet was a little bit more lethal looking!"

A native of Birmingham, his father first volunteered for war service in 1914. "He was told to go home and join the Boy Scouts," said Mr Haycock. But after the terrible losses at the Battle of Mons, his father found himself in the trenches at the age of 17.

He suffered terrible injuries, said his son who has made several pilgrimages to the sites where his father fought. The young soldier was invalided out on three occasions, returning to the front on recovery each time. Private Haycock fought throughout the Retreat and Advance of 1918, and held the 1914-15 Star and the General Service and Victory medals.

During the Second World War, he served as an Air Raid Warden (ARP) in Birmingham.

"Though this bayonet is very, very similar, it's not Dad's, but it belonged to someone," said Mr Haycock. "His injuries took their toll, and he died in 1956."

His quest to learn more about his father's service has taken him to the Thiepval Memorial to the missing of the Somme, and to the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres.

"At 8pm every night a trumpet sounds, I was in tears," Mr Haycock admitted. "I knew seeing the road, which would have been a muddy path, that Dad would have walked there."

He is determined to pass on his researches about his father to his family - his son, Philip and daughters, Clare and Laura and two grandchildren.

Even though he no longer has his father's bayonet, Kington Museum's exhibit has come as a poignant reminder for him.