Monday, 27 September 2021

Lest we forget - Henley soldiers honoured

A SERVICE was held to commemorate a soldier who died from tuberculosis during First World War

A SERVICE was held to commemorate a soldier who died from tuberculosis during First World War.

A stone was blessed for Pte Charles Edward Tidman, whose grave at Holy Trinity Church in Henley was previously unmarked.


Several of his descendants made the journey from as far as Scotland for Saturday?s service, which was conducted by the vicar, Rev Duncan Carter.

The Last Post and Reveille were played by bugler Marilyn Elliott and standards were lowered by John Green, chairman of the Henley and Peppard branch of the Royal British Legion, and Colin Davies, the Peppard and district standard bearer.

The stone was installed thanks to the Lest We Forget project, which was founded by amateur historian Mike Willoughby, from Woodcote, to honour the ?forgotten? servicemen from the Henley area klled in the Great War.

Born in Cowley, Oxford, in 1888, Charles and his family later moved to Reading Road in Henley.

He enlisted in the army in September 1914 as a private in the fourth battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment. He was then transferred to the 1st/4th battalion which was billeted in Chelmsford and it was from there that he was discharged on December 3 with ?tubercle of lung?.

He moved back to Henley to live with his mother and sister, who were then living in Harspden Road, and died on September 27, 1917, aged 28.

He was buried at on October 2 in the same grave as his younger brother James, who had died in 1915, aged 16.


The relatives at the service included Pte Tidman?s great nephew Mike Tidman and his wife Jill, who travelled from Edinburgh.

She said: ?The service was wonderful. It was very moving and far more than we expected so we were grateful to Duncan and Mike for arranging it. Thanks to them we now know where our relatives have been buried. I?m married to a Tidman and it makes me want to do more for my side of the family.?

Henley MP John Howell, who was among the guests, said: ?It?s important to remember the contribution that has been made for the country by those in the past, particularly by those in the recent past. It was very fitting to have the blessing at the last resting place of Charles.?

Henley Mayor Lorraine Hillier added: ?It was very poignant and just as moving no matter how many years have passed.?

Mr Willoughby said: ?I was so pleased that the relatives came from so far away and that their reaction to it was amazing. It just made the day.

?It was humbling because the family not only knows where Charles is buried but that other members of the family are buried within about 10ft of him. It completes an aspect of the family history.?

Following the service there was a reception to thank those who have supported the Lest We Forget project over the last two years.

Mr Willoughby said: ?We just wanted people to know that we had fulfilled what we hoped to fulfil.?

Lest We Forget will be staging an exhibition at the church, off Greys Road, tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am to 5pm.

Meanwhile, Henley?s army cadets laid a wreath at the grave of Pte Alfred Barnes at the Fair Mile cemetery on Saturday after ?adopting? the soldier from the project.

Pte Barnes, who served in the Royal Engineers, died on February 21, 1918, aged 44. He was invalided out of the army shortly before his death and his landlady in West Street, Henley, wrote to his regiment to say he would be buried anonymously if no family could be found.

He was buried in Fair Mile cemetery in an unmarked grave and forgotten for almost a century until a headstone was placed there earlier this year.


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