Round-up of 2015
Holy Trinity November Exhibition - November
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.
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.
Information continues to flood in - October
Following the memorial service which was held in August for Sapper 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.
(Photo: Royal Engineers taken from Henley Bridge)
The power of social media - October
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.
(Photo: Lance Corporal (later Corporal) Alfred Parrott, Royal Engineer)
Many thanks to Terry Custance for permission to use the picture.
Distribution of the soldiers' memorial window plaques begins - October
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.
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.
(Photo: Example of the window plaques)
Memorial service for Sapper William W
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.
(Photo: Mike at the grave of his relative Philip Langman in Knowl Hill Cemetary).
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 - March
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 - March
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.
Townlands Hospital Redevelopment - March
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.
Generous donation brings us closer to first target - March
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!!!
Fundraising reaches half way mark - January
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 right, 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.