As a pupil at Wrekin College in the early 1970’s, I and many of my fellow students, both before and since, had passed by the memorials to the fallen OW’s of 1914-18 and 1939-45 on hundreds of occasions as we attended morning chapel over our years at the school. I doubt that any of us gave any serious thought as to the individuals whose names were carved into the marble plaques.
Fast forward to 2014 and the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and the beginning of four years of national commemorations. As an amateur genealogist I already had researched family members, including my paternal grandfather, who had fought in the war. All but one returned, with those that did forever changed by their experiences and the events they had witnessed.
My own small contribution to ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’, the 888,246 ceramic poppies which day-by-day filled the Tower of London’s moat between July to November 2014, made me reflect once more about the individuals behind the names, and the circumstances which brought about their deaths, as they were read out each evening at dusk.
An article in the ‘Old Wrekinian Record’ (September 2014 No.96) relating to Second-Lieutenant Stuart Hodgson (1898-1916), who fell on the Somme, made me consider his OW brothers-in-arms who also did not return. What about their stories and their lives?
Twelve months later, having spent many, many hours either in the reading rooms of the National Archives examining war diaries, letters, telegrams and personnel files, or studying all manner of material on internet sites across the globe, communication with other schools and some family members, the material on this website is the end result.
The research material used for these life stories was sourced from information within the public domain from the following institutions and organisations. I am unaware that any copyright has been breached by use of material from any other source: if you believe otherwise, please contact me.
Archives New Zealand.Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga
Brunel University Archives
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Library & Archives Canada
Manchester University Archives
Old Wrekinian Archives (Mervyn Joyner)
Royal Air Force Museum
Royal Society of Chemistry Archives
Sheffield University Archives
The British Newspaper Archive
The General Register Office
The Imperial War Museum
The International Committee of the Red Cross
The Long, Long Trail: the British Army in the Great War
The National Archives
The National Army Museum
The Royal British Legion
The Royal Collection Trust
UK Ministry of Defence
US National Archives, Washington, D.C.
At the conclusion of this project in the autumn of 2015 three names on the memorial could not be positively identified from military records and so the date of their deaths was unknown, nor did one know where they lay. On the 100 th anniversary of the armistice I am pleased to advise that one of the three was identified as Lance-Sergeant William Hope Jones, 1/3 rd Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment and he now takes his rightful place amongst his fellow OW’s who lost their lives in 1915.