St.Martin of Tours
Chelsfield, Kent

Church Road, Chelsfield, BR6 7SN

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War Memorial Names


St Martin’s War Memorial and the 100th Anniversary of the First World War

On Remembrance Sunday 2015 I listened to the names being read out reverently by Brian Kemp, always a moving moment as there are so many names for such a small parish. Commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the First World War started 18 months ago, but it hadn’t occurred to me before to specifically think about the people that lived in our parish who died.

I was inspired to start a research project on them, to find out where they lived and when they died, in order to write a short article each month on those who died 100 years before, so that we could remember and honour them individually. Although we’re already one and a half years in, the research I’ve done shows most of our casualties died from 1916 onwards. The few that I have missed I will write about in months where there isn’t someone to remember 100 years before.

Someone may have already researched this in the past but, as some of you know, I’m very interested in genealogy and social history, so I’ve done it again for my own interest. However I have drawn a few blanks, so I’d be grateful for any help readers can give. Are you related to anyone on the memorial, or do you know anyone who might be? I know Jean Burgess’ uncle George is on it and we had a lovely chat about him and her father. Do you know of any existing research?

The names I’m particularly stuck on are Sidney Davis, William Finn, William Golding, Thomas Graves, James Hills [could be John], Noah Hillman, Walter Mathewson, and Frederick Theobold [could be Theobald]. I can find military records to match these names, but sometimes there are several people with the same name. I've found some census records for 1911 that could also be a match, but not enough evidence to tie the two together. Some cunning detective work has already been employed to trace Albert Miles, whose father Enos lived in Well Hill. There was another Enos Miles with a son Albert who also died, who lived in Shoreham, so I was led astray for a while, but the census helped unravel the mix up.

Ann Blatcher looked for church magazines for the relevant years, but interestingly none were produced for the entire period of the First World War. The memorial itself is not totally helpful! It’s not in alphabetical order in places, and I think there may be spelling mistakes in a couple of names. The spelling of people’s names in official records did vary quite a lot sometimes, but by the First World War things were more accurate. However the current memorial was made in the 1950’s, to commemorate both World Wars, and replaced an old wooden one that may not have been in the best of condition and perhaps not legible in places.

The stories behind the names of individual soldiers will be revealed during the month of the 100th anniversary of their death, but for now if you do have any information I would love to hear from you. The following pages list those soldiers already written.

Philippa Rooke Jan 2016


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