Appeal for information about Huntingdon’s First World War heroes

Church secretary Johan Myhill, with the war memorial at Trinity Free Church in Hartford. Church secretary Johan Myhill, with the war memorial at Trinity Free Church in Hartford.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
9:00 AM

A group of 17 men who are remembered on a Huntingdon war memorial are being researched by members of a church.

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The names, all men who lost their lives in the First World War, appear on a stone plaque at Trinity Free Church in Hartford.

It is believed they were all somehow connected to the church, which is now in Buttsgrove Way, having previously been in the town centre.

They are: Frederick Ashley, Thomas Charles Brown, William Tebbitt Cox, Harry Blades Fitzjohn, Archibald Howes, Oliver William Maddox, Percy John Pestell, Ronald Warren Ridgeley, Percy William Stanyon, Charles William Brown, Frederick Clark, Charles Arthur Craghill, Ernest Edward Howes, Victor Howes, Frederick Oldfield, Harold Agnew Reaney, and Arthur William Sharp.

The research, part of the church’s commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, is being led by keen amateur historian John Walker, of Mill Common, Huntingdon, who has been a member of the church for nearly 50 years.

He said: “We are in touch with relatives of a few of the men but we would be grateful for any information about their lives here before the war as well as their war service to enable us to pay tribute to them as human beings rather than merely names on a plaque.”

Mr Walker, who is a member of Huntingdonshire Local History Society, said the plaque used to be in the church when it was in the town centre, what is now Trinity Place, but was moved when everything transferred to Buttsgrove Way in 1968.

“The memorial is low down, on a wall, in a corner near a door,” he added. “It’s not at all a satisfactory place but it could break if it’s moved.”

Initial research has revealed details about the majority of the men, mostly on their service records, but it is ­information about their lives in Huntingdon before the war that particularly interests Mr Walker.

“Any information about them as people would be most welcome,” he continued. “We know there are two Howes who were brothers and the third is almost certainly a cousin or similar.

“The chap named Oldfield is also on the war memorial at Great Stukeley.”

Church secretary Johan Myhill said the idea for the research came from Joan Lumley, one of the church’s eldest members who is in her 90s. “She suggested they should be recognised and appreciated. It would be nice to put the memorial in a more meaningful place.

“We hope to work towards a commemoration service later in the year.”

Any photographs of the men would be gratefully received and would be copied and safely returned, said Mr Walker, who intends to document his research and hand it over to the church once complete.

To help, call Mr Walker on 01480 454311, send an email to dotjohn.walker@btinternet.com or write to 16 Mill Common, Huntingdon PE29 3AU.

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