In November 2018 Stratford-on-Avon District and other districts throughout the UK and overseas will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
We are all so used to hearing about the battles, some familiar such as the Somme, Gallipoli, Ypres, or Amiens and others just as important but less well-known, such as the Battle of Jutland and even further afield, Brusilov and Megiddo. We remember the eight million military and two million civilian deaths, in particular the many British casualties, of whom 19,000 died on 1 July 1916 alone, the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
Many of us will have read the graphic descriptions of life and death in the trenches in the famous poems of Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke and Robert Graves and of the tales of the love and loss of those left behind. In the words of Rudyard Kipling, 'Have you news of my boy Jack?' or of Vera Brittain, 'There is one greatest joy I shall not know again, because my heart for loss of You was broken, long ago...'
So many of those lost were just too young. When my family visited the grave of my Great Uncle in Normandy, my son noted that most of those with named graves were the same age as the A-level students at his own school, young men taken from their families and sent overseas to live and for many, to die in a war of industrialised horror. From the photographic and ghastly verses of Dulce et Decorum Est to the simple words of Ivor Gurney, a soldier poet from Gloucestershire, 'He's gone, and all our plans are useless indeed. We'll walk no more on Cotswolds where the sheep feed quietly and take no heed', the message is clear, it was a tragedy for all which we must never forget.
Although we can see the names of those who died on village, school and works memorials, we have no record of the losses and the impact across our own district. Just how many of our own people never come back?
During the research about our district and as part of the planning for our own commemorations, it became clear that whilst most parishes have a record of their losses, there is no complete record of the number or names of those who died across the district of Stratford-on-Avon. This Roll of Honour seeks to put that record straight so that as a district we can commemorate and remember all those who fell in Flanders and further foreign fields. Information has been diligently gathered from Town and Parish Councils, national records and local war memorials.
Alongside the printed version of the Roll of Honour, this micro-website has been created. This includes a digital version of the register which can be accessed through the internet to reach a wider audience and assist researchers in the future.
It has been a privilege for me to lead on this project and I would like to thank Tony Perks and Craig Bourne of Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Wendy Buckley of Bishop's Itchington for their wholehearted support.
'At the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.'
Chairman, Stratford-on-Avon District Council