Saturday, 13 August 2022

First plaques unveiled honouring servicemen

MORE than 300 plaques will be placed in homes and businesses around Henley where the town’s fallen servicemen once lived and worked.

MORE than 300 plaques will be placed in homes and businesses around Henley where the town’s fallen servicemen once lived and worked.

The scheme is part of the Lest We Forget project, which was founded by Mike Willoughby, an amateur historian from Woodcote, and aims to honour servicemen from the First World War.

The plaques will be placed in windows around the town.

Mr Willoughby said: “This is the Poppy plaque scheme â?? 311 soldiers will be commemorated at their place of residence, or place of work or their school.

“It’s to involve Henley people and to make them aware what a part of the community these soldiers were. People who find out they have got a direct involvement suddenly become a lot more interested in the project. People’s response has been quite incredible.

“They were exactly what we say they were â?? they were some mother’s son, they were lads from the town.”

Two of the stickers were presented to Diana Way of the Richard Way bookshop in Friday Street.

The Greys Brewery once stood on the site and was home to James Allum, a maltster’s labourer. His two sons Arthur and Godfrey died in the Great War.

Arthur served in the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) and was killed in action on July 31, 1917 aged 33 at the Battle of Passchendaele. His body was never identified and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres. He left a wife and four-year-old daughter.

His younger brother, who served in the Royal Berkshire Regiment, was killed on August 26, 1918, aged 25 near Carnoy, France. He was buried in the Peronne Road Military Cemetery, Maricourt, southeast of Albert.

Mrs Way said: “I think these are very interesting placards. We’ll put them in one of the windows and I’m proud to do so. I didn’t know we were going to get two soldiers to commemorate.

“We do handle this material quite a lot. Recently, we had a First World War diary transcribed by a soldier’s widow and it was very moving.”

Mr Willoughby added: “For me it’s an incredible resource because new information comes forward. I just get so much pleasure out of it and so much back from the people.”

He wants to put all the stickers in place by Remembrance Day on November 11. There are about 20 soldiers where Mr Willoughby has been unable to pinpoint a dwelling or place of work and hopes these can be “adopted”.

Those who agree to put a sticker in their window will receive a free copy of Mr Willoughby’s book

Bringing Them Home
so they know who exactly they are commemorating.

lMr Willoughby gave a talk about the First World War to Judith Farnath’s class at St Mary’s School in Henley on Monday last week.

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