In a few months time – in August – Britain will be remembering the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War (1914-1918) and remembering the men and women who served during that conflict.
All over the country, it has been thought that the best way to remember these men and women is to research their lives, and try to find out more about them than just their name and rank. Local historical societies have been beavering away for months, sometimes years, to create brief biographies.
Here in the Moorlands, Cheadle Town Council is even trying to trace descendants, so that it may present a medal to each family in which it can find a descendant. In Uttoxeter, the town’s museum is already running an exhibition featuring photos and profiles of the people who died back then.
In Blythe Bridge, the history society is publishing a booklet, as well as organising local commemorative events for the summer (in fact, they will be having an open meeting about all this on Wednesday afternoon 7th May, to which Draycott people are also invited – if you think you’d like to attend the session, call 01782 388241 to book a place).
But what of Draycott, Cresswell & Totmonslow?
Many of us have been surprised to know that there is, in fact, a memorial to Draycott’s Great War dead.
It takes the form of a tablet, which sits on the interior north wall of St Margaret’s Church. On there are three names from the First War – the names of Phillip Bagnall, Harry Billings and Lionel Dobson.
But we know little else of these men, except that they were killed. What regiments did they serve in? What part of the services were they in? What rank were they? How old were they when they died? Where did they die? What was their home address? Where are they buried?
Can you help with any such snippets of information or help of any kind?
If you can, please email us, and we will make sure the information gets to the right people.
Help is out there
Of course, anyone can also do research from scratch. There are lots of official records which can yield information. But, without some experience or training, they can be time-consuming and difficult to trawl through.
This is where Blythe Bridge & District Historical Society comes in. The society is very interested in Draycott, and is keen to help researchers.
The society’s secretary, Lev Wood, tells us that the research his society has been carrying out in Blythe Bridge is nearly complete, and should be published in the form of a booklet in late July. The resulting book will tell the stories of many local servicemen and women.
The society is also more than willing to set up a ‘training hour’ in Draycott – ie a short briefing on how to research ‘great grandad’ – and if they get enough numbers then they will do just that. Call 01782 388241 or email the society to express an interest in attending such a session.
Over ten thousand soldiers from Staffordshire died in the Great War. It would be good to remember also the three who came from Draycott.
See also: staffordshiregreatwar.com – the official website for Staffordshire’s First World War Centenary