Team behind project to find stories behind names on Warwick war memorial celebrate its completion

The team who led a project to find the stories behind the names on Warwick’s war memorial are celebrating its completion.

Warwick town council’s volunteer group Unlocking Warwick has been working for over a year to find the stories behind the names on the Church Street war memorial.

Left to right, Tricia Scott, Rick Thompson, Christine Shaw and Helen Fellows next to the towns war memorial.

Left to right, Tricia Scott, Rick Thompson, Christine Shaw and Helen Fellows next to the towns war memorial.

They created a website detailing each person from the town who died in the First World War. Each of the fallen soldiers has their own page with details of their lives and pictures.

The project has been completed in time for the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles, that formally ended the First World War on June 28 1919.

Project leader Christine Shaw said: “It has been quite an emotional experience finding out the human stories behind the brass plaques on the memorial. And it is appropriate to complete the task of uncovering the details of every one of the 364 people from Warwick in time to mark the centenary of the formal end to the First World War.

“The research team spent hundreds of hours at the County Record Office combing through the archives to find information about those who left Warwick never to return.

Some of the names on the Warwick war memorial in Church Street.

Some of the names on the Warwick war memorial in Church Street.

“But the most valuable material has come from the people of Warwick, responding to our appeal for information, letters and pictures.”

The project has also uncovered some surprises. Researcher Tricia Scott discovered from Warwick Cemetery records that some of the soliders are commemorated in family graves, and that a few who came back to Warwick with serious wounds and died are buried in Warwick.

She went to the cemetery and found several graves and memorials overgrown and neglected. Tricia said: “I’d been researching David Wright who didn’t really seem to have a connection to Warwick and then I discovered that his wife, Ada, had died seven years after him and was buried in the Birmingham Road cemetery.

“I looked in the memorials listing and found that David had been commemorated on her grave, so I made a note of where her grave was supposed to be. But it was so overgrown that if I hadn’t been certain it ought to be there, I would never have found it.

The war memorial in Church Street and some of the names listed.

The war memorial in Church Street and some of the names listed.

“When I saw the state it was in, it just seemed such a sad thing, that someone who gave his life had been completely forgotten. So I decided to go back with a scrubbing brush and some gardening tools so that I could dig out brambles and cut back the hawthorn tree that had grown over it.

“Having found that there were other families who commemorated their lost soldiers on the graves of mothers and brothers, I started looking for them.

"Now I am systematically going through the names of all The Fallen for whom we don’t have a photo, and cross referencing with the memorials listing, to see if there is any mention of them on a family member’s memorial”.

Rick Thompson, Unlocking Warwick secretary, said: “The Warwick War Memorial website is an amazing comprehensive resource for schools, researchers and families who want to know about their relatives who did not return from The Great War.

“The project has revealed a host of personal stories which bring home the huge impact war had on the town and the sacrifices made by so many young people, many joining up straight from school. It is right that they should have their stories commemorated in this way.”

To submit information to the team email: info@warwickwarmemorial.org.uk or leave it at the visitor information centre, Jury Street, marked ‘Unlocking Warwick’ with a return address.

Left to right, Tricia Scott, Rick Thompson, Christine Shaw and Helen Fellows next to the town’s war memorial.