Press release – January 2014

The stories of the men and women
on WW1 war memorials

This year is the centenary of the start of World War I and many activities are underway in preparation for this. Midhurst U3A has decided to support local communities by searching out the stories of the huge number of men and women from the area who were casualties of that war.

Midhurst, Petworth and the surrounding villages all have at least one war memorial. This is where the team’s research will start. They hope to be able to look far deeper than has been possible before into the backgrounds of the casualties on the memorials and the impacts of their deaths. They will be searching out details of the families of the casualties; their military service; where, when and how they died; and the impact their deaths had on their families and their communities

Initially the Midhurst U3A team will be covering the parishes of Bepton, Cocking, Lodsworth, Midhurst, Petworth, Rogate and West Lavington, but they hope later to extend this to Easebourne and other villages. However more volunteers will be needed to do this!

A great deal of work has previously been undertaken around the country and rather more has been undertaken in our area, particularly by Chris Comber for the Roll of Honour website. All of this will feed into the team’s researches. They will also be helped and inspired by books and articles already published by others, particularly the excellent ‘A Richer Dust’ by Michael Oakland, based on his many years’ research of the Lurgashall war memorial.

Midhurst U3A plans to produce a one to two page story of each casualty, as well as an account of the erection of each war memorial itself. These will be available during 2014 to churches, schools and communities to help them prepare for commemorative services and displays. But they will also become a permanent part of local and national archives.

Indeed they will be sharing the results of their work with the Imperial War Museums’ War Memorials Archive and West Sussex County Council’s Great War Project, led by Emma White of West Sussex Libraries.

Many of the members of the Midhurst U3A team are experienced genealogists who will be applying the expertise they have learnt in researching their own families.

If you are interested in participating in the project or if you have information, articles or photographs which may help the team in its researches, please contact …

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project