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Posted 29th November 2016

At the “Lest We Forget” Exhibition in the Old Fire Station Gallery in August 2014 we floated the idea of renaming Townlands Hospital to reflect the Henley War Memorial Hospital which closed in 1983. The name Townlands Memorial Hospital appealed greatly to the visitors who were approached at the exhibition. The idea was put on the back burner until more progress had been made on the actual building.

At the beginning of May 2016, after checking with the Mayor Councillor Lorraine Hillier, M.L.W. contacted Alec Cameron, Communications Manager, N.H.S. Property Services with the idea of changing the hospital name. Over the next few months with the unanimous backing of the Town Council, the Townlands Hospital Steering Group, support from the British Legion and a petition signed by over a thousand Henley residents the N.H.S. Property Services made their decision.

Around 7 pm on 21st October 2016 Alec Cameron phoned M.L.W. at home and told him that he was pleased to inform me that in light of strong community support for the name changing received from Lest We Forget, the Henley on Thames Town Council and Townlands Steering Group, the hospital will be renamed Townlands Memorial Hospital. The reasons given by the T.S.G. sum up quite succinctly the very appropriate reasons for the change.

  • The group had discussed the proposed name change several times with no oppostition
  • It reflects the name of the Henley and District War Memorial Hospital which closed in 1983
  • The group believes the delivery of the new hospital honours a pledge made to reinvest funds from the sale of the War Memorial Hospital in Townlands.

Lest We Forget wishes to thank N.H.S. Property Services and everyone who helped to make this name change possible.

The new signs were in place the very next day!

Pictured from left to right: Brian Hughes (British Legion), Mayor Councillor Julian Brookes, Mike Willoughby, Lesley Willoughby, Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak Townlands Steering Group, John Green (British Legion). Photo taken by Dave Murray.

Posted 15th October 2015

The Henley Lest We Forget project will be holding their full exhibition at Holy Trinity Church off Greys Road, Henley on Friday 6th November 2015 between 2.00 pm and 7.00pm : Saturday 7th :10.00 am until 6.00 pm and Saturday 14th November between 10.00 am and 6.00 pm. It will also be open for schools to visits by prior arrangement Monday 9th November to Friday 13th.

Private Charles Edward Tidman

On Saturday 7th at 3.00pm as part of the proceedings there will be a dedication service and the blessing of a stone, funded by the project ,on the grave of Private Charles Edward Tidman in Holy Trinity Churchyard. He died on 27th September 1917 aged 28 from an illness after serving in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and was buried on Tuesday 2nd October 1917 in the same grave as his younger brother James who had died in 1915 aged 16. James had served as a boy soldier in the Essex Regiment enlisting in Dover on 31st December 1912 aged 14. He served for two years until discharged in March 1914 as no longer physically fit, suffering from TB and died in February 1915 buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard on 8th February 1915. Members of their family will be travelling down from Edinburgh and other parts of the country to attend the service.

Following the service on 7th November there will be a reception to thank all of the people who have supported the project and sum up the achievements over the last two years as the Heritage Lottery supported part will be complete at the end of this year. The Lest We Forget Project will continue until at least 2019.

Posted 13th October 2015

Following the memorial service which was held in August forSapper William Woolley by the side of the River Thames we have been contacted by a gentleman form Bilston in Staffordshire whose Grandad was stationed in Henley with Ulster Division of the Royal Engineers. The full story of Sapper Thomas Elliott will be displayed at the November Exhibition along wit all of the new local pictures that we received. Just to be going on with here is just one of the pictures of new pictures of the Royal Engineers taken from Henley Bridge.

Royal Engineers taken from Henley Bridge
Lance Corporal(later Corporal) Alfred Parrott, Royal Engineer

Posted 13th October 2015

This picture recently appeared on "Henley Past and Present". I am pretty sure that it is Lance Corporal(later Corporal) Alfred Parrott, Royal Engineers. This is just the sort of item we are looking for to add to our archive. Many thanks to Terry Custance for permission to use the picture

Posted 13th October 2015

The distribution of the “Lest We Forget Project” soldiers’ memorial window plaques began on 9th October with the first ones being placed in the window of Richard Ways Bookshop at 54 Friday Street.

Example of the window plaques

Brothers Arthur and Godfrey Allum lived there before the commencement of World War 1. Their father was a labourer at Greys Brewery which was located there and obviously they lived above the premises. Arthur was killed at Passchendaele, Belgium on 31st July 1917 aged 33 while serving with the 1tth Queens’s (Royal West Kent Regiment) and Godfrey was killed on 26th August 1918 aged 25 while serving with the 5th Royal Berkshire Regiment near Peronne in France. It is the projects aim to get all 311 window plaques distributed by 11th November. Hilary Fisher has been working with Mike on identifying the location of each soldier, either an address where he was living or had lived or a premises where he had worked.

There were around 24 soldiers who they were unable to find and address for although they were definitely resident in the town, these have been adopted by 24 individual town centre shop keepers and their plaques will be displayed by the shops.

Each person agreeing to display a plaque will be given a copy of “Bringing Them Home” Mike’s book on the WW1 men of Henley and the local villages.

Posted 13th October 2015

On Saturday 31st October 2015 in Henley Market Place the “Lest We Forget” project will be staging a small exhibition and update of their research into local WW1 soldiers in support of the Royal British Legion. This is being arranged by John Green and Shirley Lees of the “Legion” with Mike Willoughby of the “Project”.

Posted 3rd August 2015

Captain Arthur John Walker

On Friday 20th August at 10 am there will be a short Memorial Service and wreath laying adjacent to the Leander Club steps on the Remenham side of the river. This is in memory of Sapper William Woolley of the Royal Engineers who drowned at this location on 20th August 1915. William was taking part in a "bathing parade" (an official exercise) when he got into difficulties and drowned.

This service will take place 100 years to the day. Numerous Royal Engineer Companies were billeted in Henley throughout the course of WW1 and a close relationship grew up between the RE and the people of Henley. We think it is extremely fitting to continue this relationship.

Posted 31st July 2015

A Memorial Service for Captain Arthur John Walker is to take place at Holy Trinity Church at 10 am Friday 7th August 2015 conducted by Reverend Duncan Carter. This will be exactly 100 years to the day that Arthur was killed in action in Gallipoli aged 19. There is a memorial stone to Arthur in War Memorial Place, Henley.

His father John Cecil Walker donated the land on which Henley War Memorial Hospital was built. All are welcome to join us at this service which will be attended by the Mayor and local councillors, members of the Lest We Forget project and will be supported by standard beares and members of the Henley, Peppard and Harpsden British Legion.

More about Captian Arthur John Walker can be found on the Henley Herald website - Please click here

Posted 26th May 2015

A few months ago David and Sue Litchfield nominated the "Lest We Foget" project for the Henley Waitrose "green token scheme". It was accepted in due course and yesterday Angela Clarke presented Lesley Willoughby, the treasurer of the project with a cheque for £270-00.

She said that the project we extremely grateful to Waitrose and its customers and that the monies would be used for a laptop computer to enable all of the pictures and information that are being collected during the project to be electronically archived.

Thank you also to Ed Banks the local branch manager for handing over the cheque and taking the picture. He and Mike both agreed that the girls were much more photogenic.

Posted 6th May 2015

UPDATE: I forwarded my findingd to Richard van Emden Patchs biographer and received this reply:
"Dear Micheal - Thank you for all your hard work too. It is very exciting to put a name to someone I was aware of but never thought I would find. Kind regards - Richard."

Some years ago while watching an interview with Harry Patch, England’s “Last Fighting Tommy” he referred to the fact that one of his Lewis Gun team came from Henley on Thames. A Lewis team comprised of five men and in his book Harry only referred to one of them by name, Bob Haynes the No.1.

As part of my research over the last eight years I decided to try and identify this “Henley man” if possible. During compiling “Bringing Them Home” I didn’t identify one local soldier of the 7th Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry who had died, so when I decided to compile a “Roll of Honour” of the men who served I searched again. I also reread Richard Van Emden’s biography about Harry and it was then I realised that Harry never actually said that they were all killed, he only said he thought they were.

On page 109 of the book it says that the entry in the 7th Battalion War Diary states that on 23rd September 1917, the day Harry was wounded “three other ranks were killed and four wounded”. Richard’s next line is that it is quite possible that Harry’s Lewis gun team were among those killed or wounded. So when I recently came across :
Private 29299 Ernest Charles Hayes 7th Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry of “The Lodge, Badgemore” I wondered whether I had found my man.

Ernest was born in Chobham, Surrey on 22nd June 1898 the son of Ernest Hayes, a sawyer of Valley End, Chobham and his wife Emily.

By the time of the 1911 census Ernest is aged 12 and living with his Uncle Robert Hayes at “The Lodge, Badgemore, Henley”. He enlisted in the army as Private 29299 7th Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry.

Edward was later posted as Private 39554 Royal Berkshire Regiment and finally as Private 5328691 to the Tank Corps. When he was discharged he went to live at 11 The Terrace, Knowl Hill and married Mabel Tuggy in 1924, which by an amazing coincidence was next door to my grandparents who lived at number 9 The Terrace.

Out of 1727 Henley soldiers of WW1 so far recorded in my “Roll of Honour” Edward is the only one so far found that served in the 7th D.O.C.L.I. Could he possibly have been the member of Harry Patch’s Lewis Gun team that was referred to by Harry.

The other piece of information I discovered that may add to this possibility is that Harry’s service number was 29295 and Edward’s was 29299.

BRINGING THEM HOME- posted 5th May 2015

Since the publication of Mike’s book in August 2014 twelve new “Men of Henley” have been found :

Private 28672 Arthur Henry Admans,  4th Battalion Grenadier Guards.
Killed in Action 27th October 1917 aged 25. Commemorated  on the Cambrai Memorial in France.
Henry was a police officer in Henley at the outbreak of WW1.

Private 19733 George Frederick Aldridge, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
Died 26th April 1918 aged 33. Buried in Tredworth Road Burial Ground, Gloucester.
At the time George enlisted he was living at West Hill in Henley

Lieutenant Colonel William Rae Brakspear, 2/3rd QAO Gurkha Rifles.
Killed in action 25th September 1915 aged 49. Commemorated on the Neuve Chapelle Memorial in France and on a plaque in St Mary’s Church, Henley.
William was the son of William Gower Brakspear of the Henley Brewing family.

Corporal 102386 Claude Ramon Forse,  208th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery.
Died of wounds 30th April 1918 aged 38 and buried in Ebblinghem Military Cemetery in France.
Husband of Margaret Burton of Vicarage Road, Henley.

Private 26617 Cyril Bernard Jeffreys, 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment.
Killed in action 18th October 1916 aged 27. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme and the Henley Congregational Church Memorial.
Nephew of Helena Pither nee Jeffreys of St Andrews Road, Henley

Private G/1131 Leonard Francis Kirby, Army Service Corps.
Died whilst awaiting recall to his unit 3rd November 1918 aged 32. Buried in Holy Trinity Churchyard, Henley.
Husband of Florence Kirby of 27 Queen Street, Henley

Private 201499 William Mearn,  5th Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.
Killed in action 23rd March 1918 aged 22. Commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial north of Albert in France.
Lived with his cousin Thomas at 10 Grove Road, Henley.

Private Frank Henry Prosser, 2nd/4th Monmouthshire Regiment.
Died 2nd December 1918 aged 26. Buried in Fairmile Cemetery, Henley.
Frank lived at 35 Northfield End, Henley.

Private 7841 Henry Thomas Spring, 2nd Regiment South African Infantry.
Killed in action 12th October 1916 aged 38. Buried in Warlencourt Military Cemetery, France and commemorated on Henley Grammar School Memorial. (Now located in Henley College)
Son of Thomas Spring late of Northfield End, Henley. Educated at Henley Grammar School

Second Lieutenant Geoffrey Duncan Stephens, 17th Trench Mortar Battery Royal Fusiliers.
Killed in action 9th July 1916 aged 25. Buried in Dranoutre Military Cemetery, France.
Son of the late T.A.P. Stephens of The Beeches, Henley.

Private 607 John Waters, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
(Eastern Ontario Regiment), Killed in action 1st March 1915 aged 22.
Buried in Voormezeele Enclosure No.3 Cemetery in Belgium.
Lived in Henley before emigrating to Canada.

Second Lieutenant Sidney West, 11th Border Regiment.
Killed in action 1st April 1917 aged 21. Buried in Savy British Cemetery, France
Grandson of Mrs Elizabeth Smith of 36 St Mark’s Road, Henley.

The graves and memorials of the above men in France and Belgium were visited by Mike and Lesley Willoughby on their recent trip.

Henry C Hinton
10th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry

posted 5th May 2015

About five years ago whilst ferreting in Dickie and Diana Way’s Bookshop in Friday Street I came across a fold out pictorial postcard addressed to Jack Hinton 87 Reading Road, Henley : From Daddy. This name immediately rang a bell in my brain. When I explained to Diana who I thought this was she gave me the postcard and asked me to keep her informed of any progress I made researching this item. Recently the Reverend Duncan Carter purchased a postcard written by Private Henry Hinton from France to “Dear Wife”.

Shortly after this Duncan was contacted by Henry’s granddaughter and various meetings between us followed. The outcome of this is that both postcards have been returned to the family where they belong and in turn the family has allowed us to copy all of the photographs, letters and documents relating to Henry Hinton plus other members of the Hughes and Ward families in Henley. There are some amazing pictures which will be on display at future exhibitions.

Our most grateful thanks to Jim and Sue for allowing access to their treasured items.

SAPPER 1964 WILLIAM EDWARD WOOLLEY - posted 5th May 2015

On the morning of 20th August 1915 200 men of the 2nd (Kent) Field Company Royal Engineers who were stationed in Henley were bathing in the River Thames at Lion Meadow opposite the Little White Hart Hotel. During this, Sapper William Woodley got into difficulties and drowned. His body was later recovered by a local waterman Frank Harvey whilst dragging the river.

The following day an inquest was convened at the Little White Hart Hotel conducted by Mr J.L. Cooper, the local Coroner. A jury of 12 local men the Foreman of which was Henry Wilkins was put in place. After calling numerous witnesses including 2nd Lieutenant R. Lucas, the officer in charge of the party and Sapper W.E. Jones who was on the river bank at the time, a verdict of accidental death was returned along with a recommendation that at least two manned rowing boats should be in readiness in future, rather than the pontoon which was in use at the time.

On Monday the 22nd August Sapper Woolley’s coffin was placed on a pontoon wagon outside the Little White Hart Hotel, covered with a Union Jack, and pulled by four horses. This was then conveyed to Henley Railway Station. The procession was headed by comrades from the 2nd Kent Field Company Royal Engineers and lead by the Henley Town Band playing the Dead March in Saul. From Henley the coffin was conveyed to Williams’ home in Bilston Staffordshire where he was buried in Bilston Cemetery on Tuesday 24th August 1915.

On Thursday 20th August 2015 a small ceremony will take place beside the river in Lion Meadow when a wreath will be floated on the Thames to commemorate Sapper Woolley. Any one requiring further information please contact MLW through the web-site.

CYRIL BERNARD JEFFREYS - posted 5th May 2015

In my book “Bringing Them Home” I had put in a provisional identification for  Bernard Jeffreys.  However further research has resulted in proving that the inclusion referred to Private 26617 Cyril Bernard Jeffreys 2nd Battalion Wiltshire Regiment  who was killed in action on 18th October 1916 aged 27. His body was never identified for burial and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme (which we also visited on our recent trip). Cyril was the son of Joseph Jeffreys who was born in Henley and the nephew of Helena Pither  nee Jeffreys who lived in St Andrews Road, Henley. It was Helena who placed the obituary in the Henley Standard which eventually led to my findings.

Micheal at the grave of Harry Spring, France

FINDING HARRY SPRING - posted 5th May 2015

I first came across H. Spring on the Henley Grammar School WW1 Memorial Board (which is now located in Henley College)  when I first researched this memorial in 2005.

According to the Periam Magazine, the Henley Grammar School Magazine, in 1925 Harry Spring had died whilst serving with the Canadian Contingent during WW1.

It was reported likewise in the Henley Standard. Despite numerous searches through the admission register of the Grammar School and the Canadian Archives, which incidentally are excellent and free to search on-line, I could find no trace of Harry. Then 3 months ago I found a Henry Thomas Spring who had died on 12th October 1916 while serving in the 2nd Regiment South African Infantry.

On further investigation I found that he was born in Upper Assendon in 1878 and his father Thomas ran a nursery and seed suppliers located close to the Grammar School in Northfield End in the 1890s. The family then moved to Hornsey, Middlesex and it was whilst perusing the 1901 census I found Harry. Beside his entry in very small writing it said  “Baden Powell Police leaving for South Africa in the next few days.” This was the breakthrough I had been looking for.

From this I was able to trace that he had gone to South Africa in 1901 and served with the Baden Powell Police which eventually became the South African Constabulary. At the outbreak of World War 1 Henry had then enlisted in the South African Infantry and initially went to Alexandria with the 2nd Infantry Regiment before being sent  to France.

He was killed in action on 12th October 1916 during the “Battle of Transloy” aged 38, and was buried in Warlencourt British Cemetery near Le Sars in France. During our recent war graves visit Lesley and I were extremely pleased to be able to pay our respects at long last.

Alfred Barnes headstone unveiled in Fairmile Cemetary - Henley

PIONEER 116938 ALFRED BARNES - ROYAL ENGINEERS - posted 5th May 2015

On Sunday 22nd February 2015 a headstone was unveiled in Fairmile Cemetery on the grave of Pioneer Alfred Barnes who died on 19th February 1918. The ceremony was attended by the Mayor Martin Akehurst and other members of the Town Council, plus 15 members of the Henley Cadet Force, representatives of the Lest We Forget Project and the British Legion. The Last Post was sounded by trumpeter Marilyn Elliott and a wreath was placed on the grave by Cpl Lauren Hunt of the Henley Cadets.

Following the ceremony the “Memorial Affiche Scheme was officially launched when Mike Willoughby presented Mayor Martin Akehurst with a framed memorial scroll for his Granddad  Sergeant Sidney Akehurst who died in World War 1. It is intended that a further 314 memorials will be placed in windows around the town in time for November 2015.

HONOURED - posted 5th January 2015

After the Remebrance day service at the Town Hall Malcolm Page President of the Henley Branch of the British Legion presented Mike and Lesley with a framed certificate from the Legion "In recognition and sincere thanks for their outstanding work in initiating and being the driving force behind the Lest We Forget project.


Apart from the "Affiche" scheme the major plans so far ror 2015 are the placing and dedication of the four remaining grave stones : Alfred Barnes Fairmile Cemetery around 19th February (all dates quoted are the date of the soldiers death) Walter Taylor, Fairmile 28th June 1918. Charles Edward Tidman Holy Trinity Churchyard 27th September and Frederick Meads Fairmile 16th November 1918. We are still endeavouring to contact relatives of the soldiers.

It is also in the advanced planning stage along with David Tapp and the residents committee at War Memorial Place to refurbish the two memorial plaques set in the boundary wall of the development and have a service of commemoration in August for Arthur John Walker who died on 7th August 1915. He is commemorated on one of said plaques and was the son of John Cecil Walker, a local bank manager who donated the land on which the original War Memorial Hospital was built.

'AFFICHE' SCHEME - posted 5th October 2014

Using Mike's street map of Henley one of the major undertakings of 2015 will be to instigate our house marking scheme.

We originally referred to it as our "Poppy Plaque scheme" but this ran foul of the local authorities who feared that we were going to create the equivalent of the national blue plaque scheme. We now are still trying to come up with a suitable fitting title. Our intention is to design and create a suitable "affiche" in order of 200x120mm for each of our soldiers that died and then approach the people who now live in the house in which the man resided to display said "affiche".

Those of the soldiers whose homes are not known, or where people do not wish to join in with the scheme, other people in the town will be invited to display the item. This part of the project is completely funded by us and there will be no cost to participants. PS. "Affiche" is the only suitable word I can come up with at this time.

When I was a balloon pilot we used to give out stickers from the sposers of our balloons promoting the company. In France these vinyl stickers were called "affiche" and that sounds so much better in my opinion. Hilary Fisher is working with Mike to identify the old addresses and in doing so will update the Henley Map.

Dedication ceremony attended by the Mayor and local dignitaries plus wounded soldiers in Cheltenham.
DROP IN SESSIONS AT HENLEY LIBRARY - posted 5th January 2015

The Thursday morning Henley Library drop in sessions are continuing very successfully with Mike using his spare time to research expand on the new "Soldiers Who Served" database using the library's resources So far this has just reached 1500 identified men of Henley Town who served during WW1. The number of people bringing in new pictures and information has been amazing. Recently a relative of a local soldier made arrangements to call in on the library session while he was over from America visiting his family. The pictures that this gentleman brought were amazing. These session will continue throughout 2015 with the kind help and indulgence of Ann and the library staff, who we thank greatly.

During the library sessions further "soldiers who died" have been discovered in trawling the service records. The first new find occured on Mikes very first drop in session and has turned in to the most amazing story. George Aldridge enlisted in the Army in September 1915 giving his address as West Street, Henley his occupation as labourer and stated that he had no next of kin. served overseas with the BEF and was wounded inaction on 9th May 1916. He was returned to England, discharged on a pension and subsequently died on 26th April 1918 of TB contracted during his war service. He was buried near the establishment where he died in Gloucester and here the story really starts.

George was obviously buried in a simple civil ceremony without due ceremony. This fact was discovered by someone local who relayed the facts to the "John Bull Magazine" that a discharged soldier had been evidently buried as a pauper, and they thought that this was disgusting. When this was reported in the local Cheltenham newspaper a public fund was started and a suitable stone and kerbs were installed around the grave.

Mike decided that a visit to the Gloucester Archives was called for and duly arranged it (on Lesley's birthday). Not only did he discover newspaper reports and pictures of the ceremony in September 1918, but in 1937 a young girl while visiting her grandmothers grave in Cheltenham Cemetery discovered George's grave in a sad state of disrepair. With the aid of her father she tidied the grave and planted flowers. Then each week on her visits to her family grave continued to tend George's.

In 1984 the original dilapidated stones were replace with a Commonwealth War Graves stone. The full story of George will appear in due course. The picture from the Cheltenham Graphic show the dedication ceremony attended by the Mayor and local dignitaries plus wounded soldiers.

November Exhibition at Holy Trinity Church, Henley


posted 5th January 2015

The exhibition was open during the week 10th-14th November for arranged visits by local schools. St Mary's, Sacred Heart and three classes from Holy Trinity School took advantage of the opportunity and the Henley Cubs transferred their usual Friday evening meeting to take place at the Exhibition. A report back from the Cub leader reported that they thought it had been their best meeting of the year. They were particulary impressed by the trench and dug-out mock up and the basket of pigeons complete with sound effects

New stone commemorating George Blackall in Fairmaile Cemetery - Henley
DEDICATION OF NEW STONE - posted 5th January 2015

The dedication of the new stone commemorating George Blackall in Farmile Cemetery took place on the 9th November. The service was conducted by Reverend Duncan Carter of Holy Trinity Church. The service was attended by around thirty members of the Blackall family, the Deputy Mayor and other members of the Town Council, plus standard bearers from Harpsden and Peppard British Legions. Debbie Blackall the great niece of George help Mike to place the stone on the previous Friday. Nicci Taylor from the Town Hall oversaw the installation.


GILLOTTS PUPILS GET INVOLVED - posted 11th July 2014

With the kind and willing help of staff and the voices of pupils of Gillotts School, a recording is being made of the 300 names on the new Henley WW1 Memorial Plaque. It will be played on appropriate occasions as a background reminder of the men who were lost from the Town.

BOOK: Bringing Them Home - posted 11th July 2014

If you have already subscribed to the book, your copy will be available to collect from the Exhibition during opening times. If that is not convenient please contact Mike (e-mail or telephone) to arrange delivery. Anyone wanting a copy who has not yet subscribed, again contact Mike during the Exhibition or by e-mail or telephone.

MIKE'S RESEARCH CONTINUES - posted 18th June 2014

William Lea
Royal Engineers - Died 1915

Mike’s research has not stopped, even though the Bringing Them Home book is complete and at the printers.  Recently Mike was given access to the postcards of a local collector, including a picture of some of the Royal Engineers who were stationed in Henley during WW1.  He was able to identify William Lea, the Royal Engineer who died as a result of an accident on the road between Henley and Hurley.  William was  buried in the Fairmile Cemetery in May 1915 with a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone (see photo).

Fairmile Cemetery – there are four WW1 soldiers buried in the Fairmile Cemetery in Henley, but their graves are not marked in any way.  Mike has located their position and obtained the necessary permission and cost details from the Town Council.  At a date appropriate to the death of each one, a stone provided by the project  will be placed on the grave with due ceremony.

MIKE HAS A"BUSMAN'S HOLIDAY" - posted 20th March 2014

Mike at the grave of his relative Philip Langman in Knowl Hill Cemetary

Picture by Baylis Media Ltd

Ten years ago during the time that he was investigating the casualties of WW1 in his home village of Knowl Hill, near Maidenhead he discovered that his great aunt had a brother Philip Langman who had died in 1919 as a result of his war service as a Private in the Royal Berkshire Regiment. He had returned to England and died at home and was buried in St Peter's Cemetery Knowl Hill but was not recorded as a casualty of war and although known to be buried in the cemetery, had no marked grave.

Two years ago having found Philip's service record Mike applied to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission sending all of the necessary documents and after due process they advised him that Philip did qualify for a headstone and inclusion in the C.W.G.C. records.

Eighteen months later due to this being a particularly busy time for the C.W.G.C. Mike was given three or four days notice that the stone was being installed so was able to be in attendance for the entire process. He says that it was a fantastic experience and he felt extremely pleased that Philip had finally been acknowledged.

The C.W.G.C. does the most amazing job and although every time he and Lesley see their men in cemeteries in France and Belgium Mike goes and thanks them for what they do. On this occasion he was able to go one better and he took the men who carried out the installation to the café across the road for a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich.

BOOK OF REMEMBRANCE - posted 20th March 2014

This is making good progress and we only have the last fifty or so pages (of approx.500) to produce. MFG Communications Ltd from Sulhamstead near Reading are providing invaluable expertise, the necessary software and have been very helpful and supportive – they already do a lot of work for the Henley Town Council. We hope to make it available in the Town Hall Information Office, on our website and we have other places in mind, such as the Henley Library.

BRINGING THEM HOME - posted 20th March 2014

A big section of Mike's printed book has gone to Higgs & Co. for them to start working with – the rest will follow very soon. Final editing, proof reading and arguing over the finer points (especially the correct use of the pesky apostrophe) is keeping us busy at the moment. The book will be available to subscribers in August as planned.

FUNDRAISING - posted 20th March 2014

Our primary target of £3126 which we needed to raise to fund the aims set out in the Lottery Grant application has been reached, thanks to the great generosity of Higgs & Co, the Lions Club of Henley and all the caring and generous local people and organisations who have contributed. A grant has also been agreed by the Henley Town Council and Mike is now working on various additional project ideas which have been suggested or have emerged in discussion – for example the refurbishment of the memorial plaques at War Memorial Place. Another idea involves the Gillotts school pupils with the production of a soundscape of the names of the men who died, based on the recordings which visitors to Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium will have heard.


I am sure you will have seen the long-awaited good news in this week's 'Standard' as the redevelopment of Townlands Hospital has finally been given the go-ahead. Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak talks of working with the Developers to ensure continued community involvement on key issues such as landscaping, transport and war memorials. Recreating the memorials on the site has been something which the Lest We Forget Project has discussed from its early days, realising how important the original War Memorial Hospital memorial was at the time and should be again.


Mike Willoughby
author of 'Bringing Them Home

Work on the Henley WW1 Remembrance Project continues – and the priority at this point is to thank the generosity of those who have contributed to the fundraising target – in particular to the HIGGS GROUP – publisher of course of our local Henley Standard weekly newspaper – which has given the £500  donation reported in the paper a couple of weeks  back.  At the same time the post brings, almost daily, letters from ‘subscribers’ sending their donations.  We have always said that all donations are very gratefully received and as we near the first fundraising target, we value enormously the support from all these sources.

With new and very rewarding information/research contacts being made every week plus this excellent progress on fundraising, the Project is progressing well.  Editing the Bringing Them Home book – both in hard copy and for the online version,  is keeping Mike and Lesley busy in this cold, wet winter.  However, like the occasional encouraging signs we are seeing of very early spring, there are signs of light at the end of the tunnel!!!


Thomas P. Barlow
Killed in action 1916

Thanks to generous public response we are now almost halfway to our initial target of £3200 to achieve our lottery funding commitment.

Mike Willoughby has recently given a talk to Henley Historical and Archaeological Society at the Town Hall which was attended by 65 people, and was also invited to speak at the local Ladies Probus lunch which around 45 of their members attended.

On the research front another “forgotten soldier” has been traced. Alfred Barnes of West Hill, Henley, went off to fight in France in 1915, returned to England in 1916 and was discharged as being “no longer physically fit for war service”. He returned to lodgings in West Hill and died shortly afterwards in the “Union” Infirmary. He was buried a few days later in a paupers grave in Fairmile cemetery. There is already an A.Barnes on the Henley memorial but this is definitely a different chap.

As a result of a meeting at the November Exhibition we have received an amazing collection of photographs, letters, postcards and other memorabilia about Thomas P. Barlow, pictured above, from his granddaughter . He had a photography business in Henley before he went off to war, and was killed in action in 1916. This is probably as complete a resource as we have on any individual in the Town and we are extremely grateful to his family.

BOOK PROGRESS - There will now be an additional chapter in Mike’s Book containing the names, regiments and addresses of “Men who served” from Henley and did return - So far this numbers around 1200 men.

EXTRA MEMORIALS - We are also in discussion with the residents committee at Henley War Memorial Place with a view to adding the refurbishment of the memorials in the grounds there to the project.  We will keep you appraised on the developments there.


I’ve spent 18 years paying tribute to war dead not knowing one was related

Brian HughesEACH Remembrance Day for the past 18 years, Brian Hughes has stood opposite Henley town hall in his role as the Royal British Legion standard bearer.

He has always looked at the names inscribed on the war memorial without knowing that he was related to one of them.

That was until last week when he found that Private Edward Hughes, who died in the First World War, was his great uncle.

The discovery was made by amateur historian Mike Willoughby, who organised the recent Lest We Forget exhibition on the First World War at Holy Trinity Church.

Mr Hughes, who did National Service in the Fifties, told him that he didn’t know of any relatives who had fought in the Great War, so Mr Willoughby decided to research his family history.

He found out that Pte Hughes served in the Durham Infantry 20th Batallion. He was one of eight siblings and, like his great nephew, had lived in Harpsden Road.

He was killed in action on July 31, 1917 during the Battle of Pilkem Bridge, east of Ypres in Belgium, aged 35.

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Henley on Thames WW1 Remembrance Association