Continuing our World War I remembrance theme again this week, we focus on Newbold, which held an exhibition in St Botolph’s Church earlier this month.
The Church was decorated with thousands of knitted poppies in red, white (for peace) and purple (to remember the animals, particularly the 8 million horses, that died in the War). There were also exhibits of uniforms and memorabilia from relatives of local soldiers who died in the Great War.
It also included the work of Judith Edwards, who has researched all 52 names on the war memorial.
Her painstaking journey to produce biographies of all those from Newbold parish who died in WWI took 18 months. “It has been very interesting and I’ve learnt so much,” said Judith, a member of Rugby Family History Group which has also researched all the names on the town’s memorial. “Finding out about their families and backgrounds has really made them feel like real people, instead of just a list of names. Some have been quite hard to find but I have loved doing it.”
Judith’s investigations have used all means possible from ancestry websites, newspapers and census details, to war records and information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Among those listed was Albert Leeson, who wrote poetry. Although he had no money he still had six books to his name, all bought second hand. His sweetheart, Hilda Turner never got over his death and never married.
Another, Evan Harries Jones was one of three from Cosford. He had been awarded the Military Cross and bar, having died in the action that won him the bar.
Whereas most servicemen were buried abroad, the grave of Harold Thomas Meddows, who later died of TB, is in Clifton Road cemetery. He had been gassed in the fighting, suffering what today would be recognised as PTSD. He received the Silver War Badge, issued to those honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness. It also distinguished them so people would understand they had been sent home unfit for service.
Louis Hill was only 19 when he died, but had already become a passionate young letter-writer to the Advertiser,asking people to remember that while much had been made of all those soldiers who had been billeted in Rugby, such as the 29th Division who went to Gallipoli, the only real Rugby boys were the Howitzer Battery and E Company.
Not only has Judith researched the names on the war memorial, she has been able to detail the history of the memorial itself, finding Advertiser coverage starting with the first parish meeting in connection with the proposed scheme, held in the schoolroom and reported on November 7, 1919. Details of tenders and specifications from contractors were submitted and they hoped to complete it for £350. It was designed by S J Oldham, M.S.A. architect and builder, of 10 Elborow Street, Rugby and constructed of red sandstone.
An update in November 1920 reported slow progress due to a lack of labour, but the memorial in the churchyard was unveiled and dedicated on May 6, 1921.
The ceremony, attended by almost all of the village, was conducted by Canon RS Mitchison of Barby, following a service in the church.