Posted 09 October 2006 - 10:46 am
If I was you, I wouldnt be forking out £20 to the Museum just yet!
And, to save you from what could be a very long wild goose chase, you really need to try and pin down his unit if you can, without trying to speculate what it might be.
It's a relatively common name, so this will be difficult. The problem is that, if he joined up late in the war, he could have been posted to any unit - so the odds might be against it being a local north west one. Your aunt may well be remembering family history correctly, but then again.........
I think you have two ways forward. One is to check the "burnt records" (either at Kew or through the Mormon Church). These represent only about 30% of the total (most being totally destroyed in WW2). It would be a matter of trawling through the James Masons to see if you come across one where the information sounds right (location, family members).
The other route is to check local newspapers of the time from where he lived. Do you know if this was still Widnes. If such a thing exists, you be betetr starting with the very local "weekly" paper, rather than a more regional daily or evening one. Again, you'd be looking for a referenc eto him joining up, being on leave, returning home afterwards. These are probably held at wherever the local history library for the area is .
The other thought is that, in 1918, he would have been over 21. That means he'd have had a vote. So, assuming he was still serving in late 1918, he should be listed on the Absent Voters List for the area. Again this should be at the library (or local record office). You should be abale to cross reference any James Masons you come across with the home address' entry in the "normal" voters list to see if other known family members are there.