THE lives of 15 young men and boys killed in action during the First World War have been honoured as part of a community effort to save a plaque bearing their names from being consigned to a dusty archive.
When the doors of Eastbourne Methodist Church, in Darlington, closed for the final time last year, it was feared that the memorial plaque to the 15 soldiers who had lived and worked in the east end of Darlington could be lost.
Thanks to the efforts of volunteers and an offer of help from the nearby St Herbert’s Church, in Yarm Road, the plaque will remain a part of the community.
At a rededication ceremony and memorial service at St Herbert’s, the congregation were silent as some of the details behind the 15 names on the memorial plaque were read out.
The youngest of those killed – Thomas Edwin Davey, a member of the Royal Army Medical Corp – was just 16 when he died in Belgium.
The deaths of the other young men – the oldest man was 35-year-old William Thomas, of the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment – show the global nature of the conflict, with some killed in Iran, Palestine and Turkey, as well as in the trenches of France and Belgium.
A group of volunteers worked together to research the stories behind the 15 names, including Anthony Magrys, who spoke of its importance to local people.
“We thought it needed to be kept as part of the local community,” he said. “The congregation has been very certain about that.”
The brass memorial plaque was officially rededicated in St Herbert’s by the Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant, who spoke of the difficulty in finding something to say in the face of the overwhelming scale of the war and its futility.
“What on earth can be said that makes any sense of anything?” he asked. “We’ve heard some extremely poignant stories this afternoon. Those stories go on and on and on.
“One hundred years on, from all that we now know that that was not the war to end all wars. We know that remembering those who died year after year has not stopped people going to war again.”
A CHURCH will honour the young men of its parish who died in the Great War with an exhibition charting their family graves.
St Andrews Church in Haughton, Darlington, will open its doors to the public tomorrow (Monday, August 4) between 10am and 4pm to allow quiet reflection and personal prayer.
The church has also put together a photographic exhibition of the graves in the churchyard that bear the names of sons, husbands and brothers who were killed in the First World War and whose remains were buried in France and Belgium.
Audrey Pearson, who helped put the exhibition together, adopted the grave of a young soldier, Isaac Pattison, and has tended it for many years, only to discover last year that her own daughter coincidentally married one of Isaac's descendants.
She hopes that the information gathered for the exhibition will be of use to anyone looking to trace their family history and find out more about relatives killed in the war.
The church will be open every Wednesday until the end of October, between 10am and 4pm, where the exhibition will be on display.