Helmdon’s War Memorial - The Men Behind The Names

Phillip Hemming came to teach at  Helmdon branch WEA three years ago.   His course looked at how the Great War influenced British culture and society by looking at topics such as art, literature, poetry, films &  TV,  myths & legends.   He also mentioned war memorials and pointed out  the fascinating history of the servicemen recorded on them.    I was interested enough by the subject to do a little research,  but then let it lie.  Then, at the beginning of 2013, I was approached by a WEA member who said, why don’t we record the history behind the men for the centenary of Great War?   I instantly agreed, and so the project came into being.


The group consisted of  Judy Cairns,  Cec  Harrold,  Danny Moody, Ross Vicars  and myself,  with  Charles Binns  restoring  some of the photographs and postcards.     As well as finding out as much as we could on Internet sources such as Ancestry, the Commonwealth Graves Commission and the Forces War Records site,  we were fortunate that for some of the servicemen we had descendants in the village and nearby,  who,  as well giving us information,  were able to produce photos, medals, and death pennies for us to reproduce.   We had several different old postcards of the war memorial in its early days but at the moment we do not know when it was erected.  (We were  given a copy of the church service at which it was dedicated but disappointingly it  had no date).  In addition we found there was in existence a Roll of Old Boys of Helmdon School Who Served in the Great War which came to be the subject of quite a long section following the fortunes of some of the men who came back, and which also recorded  two servicemen who should have been on the war memorial but whose names  (for whatever reason)   had been omitted.

The project can be seen on www.helmdon.com   (history resources/ Articles/no: 82 “Helmdon’s War Memorial - The Men Behind the Names”). (Direct link here)

Audrey Forgham           

Helmdon Branch WEA