Why we set up this website – by Christine Shaw, Project Leader
Behind every name 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 during both World Wars.
As part of a family genealogy project, 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 who died in The Great War were in their late twenties and thirties, some were husbands and fathers; at the other end of the spectrum, some were just out of school and didn’t get 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. Similarly, in World War Two, men were lost from all walks of life, this time not only in Europe but in the air, at sea, in Africa, the Far East and other theatres of war.
Whatever the circumstances, they all deserve to be remembered. This is why we at Unlocking Warwick – the Court House community volunteers – set up this website. We want to help people discover what happened to their own relatives, or people who lived in their house or street or attended their church or school. We gather 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 which, during our WW1 research, proved invaluable in obtaining local knowledge of our fallen. Since then, access to bound copies has been withdrawn so our WW2 research has been carried out using British Newspapers Online, with the added bonus that many WW2 articles contain portraits of our Fallen.
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. We can then build up a more comprehensive profile and reveal the person behind the statistic. Send us your stories.
We have included some articles which give a flavour of what life in Warwick was like during both wars 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
World War One Centenary
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 2018, 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.
In the same month, 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, and finishing in St. Mary’s Church at the Chapel of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 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.
World War Two – 75th Anniversary of VE Day
We have now added profiles of the Warwick Fallen of World War 2. There are 112 names on the memorial and we have completed our initial research using information available in the public domain – mostly from the Warwick Advertiser and Ancestry.com. The family information for WW2 may not as comprehensive as for WW1, as we do not have the advantage of using census data, as most of our WW2 Fallen were born after 1911. Next year, the 1921 census will be released so we will be able to add further information for those born between 1911 and 1921. In the meantime, we hope local families will help us fill in any gaps, or correct any errors.
Due to the current Covid-19 Pandemic, we are not able to get together to show our appreciation, but instead would like you to perhaps use the extra time at home to dig out any family albums, diaries, or letters, and email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can add these details to the individual pages of The Fallen. Our aim is to have a picture of every one of them if possible.
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