The War Memorial Project

An account of the purpose of this website by Christine Shaw, Project Leader.

THE INDIVIDUALS

Behind every name from WW1 on the Warwick War Memorial in Church Street is a human story, bringing home to succeeding generations the sacrifices made by the individuals and their families who lived in the town one hundred years ago.

As part of family genealogy, I found information about my great uncle who came from Warwick and who had died in WW1. During the course of my research I realised that many families lost more than one son and several small streets, churches and schools lost a significant number of their community.

Many of the men were in their late twenties and thirties, some were husbands and fathers whilst others never had the opportunity to get married or have children.

Some came from wealthy families, others were the sons of tradesmen, whilst many came from poor backgrounds. No one was exempt. They were surveyors and solicitors, clerks and labourers, railwaymen and career soldiers, butchers and bakers – and one nursing sister. Some enlisted or were called up straight from school or university, others had emigrated but came back to serve their country of birth.

They all deserve to be remembered and this is why we at Unlocking Warwick – the Court House community volunteers – have set up this website. We want people to discover what happened to their own relatives, or people who lived in their house or street or attended their church or school. We are gathering information from a variety of sources into one place so that anyone – historians, writers or relatives – can easily find the story of every one of the Warwick Fallen.

A key source of information is the Warwickshire County Record Office in Priory Park. They hold back-copies of the Warwick Advertiser newspaper and Warwick ‘Shrine Slips’. Our research has been carried out using original documents and British Newspapers Online.

But for more personal information we would like you to send us what you know about each individual, be it a photo portrait, a picture of their house or memorial, or a snippet of information about their achievements and activities, so that we can build up a more comprehensive profile and reveal the person behind the statistic. Send us your stories.

OUR COMMUNITY

We have included some articles which give a flavour of what life in Warwick was like during the war as well as highlighting the Regiments, Churches, Schools and other community groups who were, and are, part of the fabric of Warwick.

If you have an article or story that you would like to contribute, please contact us.

HOW THE RESEARCH HAS BEEN USED AT SPECIAL EVENTS

During 2018 – the centenary year of the Armistice that ended the fighting in the Great War – the information unearthed by this project has been presented to local people in a variety of ways.

In October, as part of the Warwick Words History Festival, the Unlocking Warwick volunteers staged the ‘Warwick Armistice Afternoon Tea’ in the Court House ballroom. This combined readings about what happened in Warwick during WW1 and about what happened to some of those from the town who went off to war and did not return, with poetry and contemporary music. Mezzo-soprano Imogen Parker was accompanied by Oliver Hancock, the Director of Music at St. Mary’s Church. Guests also enjoyed an authentic tea with hot bacon batches, jam tarts, fruit cake and jelly.

Also in October as the centenary of the Armistice approached, two of our volunteers led 50 guests on the Warwick World War One Walk. Starting in Pageant Gardens where the Mayor re-enacted the reading of the declaration of war, guests heard about the mustering of the troops in the county town and the call for volunteers. The walk moved to the war memorial where three personal stories behind the names on the bronze plaques were presented. The walk finished in St. Mary’s Church at the Chapel of the Royal Warwickshire Regimen which lost more than eleven and a half thousand men in the conflict. The church had been decorated with thousands of hand-made poppies to commemorate them.

And on the Centenary Remembrance Day itself, while a memorial beacon was lit at Warwick Castle, my colleague Rick Thompson and I read out the names of all the Warwick men (and one woman) who died in The Great War – 364 of them including several discovered during our research whose names were not on the memorial for various reasons.

WHAT NEXT?

Unlocking Warwick’s research group will continue to seek as much information as we can about the individuals named on the memorial and to add the details to the individual pages of The Fallen. We are particularly keen to find more photographs from family albums.

We are discussing the possibility of including the Warwick Fallen of World War II. There are 99 names from the Second World War on the memorial.  2019 will be marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of that war in 1939. 

SPECIAL THANKS to…

  • The Town Clerk and members of the Warwick Town Council’s Community and Cultural Committee for providing funding for the launch of this website.
  • Rick Thompson, Secretary of Unlocking Warwick, who has worked alongside me for countless hours setting up this website and writing many of the articles and features.
  • The members of Unlocking Warwick Research group who are spending many hours finding information from a variety of sources, including the County Record Office whose staff have been most helpful.
  • Local organisations including the Fusilier Museum, the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum, Warwick Poppies 2018, churches and schools, and Warwick residents who have come forward with photos and stories.

Christine Shaw                                                                                                                                   Warwick War Memorial Project, Unlocking Warwick