Micheldever War memorial. Lest We Forget

As part of the “Journey’s End” performances in November 2009, I have been researching the background of the servicemen who lost their lives in the Great War of 1914 to 1918 and are commemorated on the Micheldever War Memorial. I have not yet studied those who fell in the Second World War, or those on the East Stratton War Memorial. The East Stratton war heroes are covered in the East Stratton Web site.

Please Click Here for more detailed information on each of these Micheldever Residents who fell in the First World War.

In 1914 there were about 1,000 persons in the Parish, and 120 men served in the First World War. The parish included Micheldever Village, Micheldever Station, East and West Stratton, Weston, and the outlying farms such as New Down and Larkwhistle. Of these 120 servicemen there are 30 listed on the Micheldever War Memorial and 15 on the East Stratton War Memorial.

It is shocking to reflect that of these 120 young men, 45 perished. They were mostly in their late teens, 20’s or 30’s. The effect this must have had on families and the community is unimaginable. They were primarily agricultural labourers, railwaymen, carpenters and tradesmen.

Names on the War memorial
War Memorial Names

The row of houses at 70, 71 and 72 Church Street, which are opposite Heather Cottage, experienced the deaths of 4 young men: James Brazier from number 70, brothers Albert and Harry Freeman from 71, and George Burgess from 72. Duke Street suffered the deaths of William Ford from 119, Albert Tarrant, Ernest Baverstock (115), and Ernest Butcher from Holly Bank House. William Cole lived at 100 Winchester Road.

Northbrook lost William Herbert Bush (Number 34) Edward Wheeler (38) and Walter Baverstock (43). Charles Merryweather lived at 32 Northbrook, but he is listed on the Stockbridge War Memorial rather than at Micheldever. From the Station were William Berret, Jack Hughes, Leopold Weston from the Railway Cottages and William Jones. Jack Hughes was the only son of Louisa Hughes, a widow who ran the Western House Hotel, now the Dove Inn.

From Weston, now Weston Colley, came Charles Cottingham, Walter Meacham and the brothers Herbert and Percy Baverstock. Stanley Wilks and Sidney Lawes came from New Down and George Brown from Larkwhistle.

There are four Baverstocks listed on the memorial. Henry and Percy were certainly brothers, and I suspect were related somehow to Ernest and Walter, but can find no connection. Ernest emigrated to Canada, and fought with the Quebec regiment.

Of those positively identified, the majority were killed in Northern France and Belgium. Although none were killed in St Quentin itself, where “Journey’s End” is set, 13 were killed nearby in villages along the River Somme. A further 9 were killed just across the border in Belgium. William Bush was killed in Egypt and is commemorated on a war memorial in Israel, while Sidney Lawes and Stanley Wilks were killed in Iraq.

The summer of 1916 with the first battle of the Somme, and the German offensive in the spring of 1918 saw the largest numbers of deaths.

The War memorial
The War Memorial

The memorial is in the form of a Cornish cross, in rough-hewn Cornish granite. It was unveiled on 5th August 1920 by Mrs. F.H Bailey, formerly of Norsebury, whose son is the first on the memorial.

This research is based upon information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Roll of Honour web site, and census information from the late 1800’s, 1901 and 1911. Two of the names on the memorial, Geoffrey Golding and Arthur Simpson I have not been able to trace. There may well be errors and incomplete information in my research, and if anyone can provide further background or correct information it will be gladly received.

I have found this research a sobering and moving experience. It’s impossible to imagine the impact these deaths must have had on the families and the community. Seeing the photos of the War Graves, particularly in France and Belgium, and the thousands of young men that are commemorated there, let’s hope we never see such events again. We all have bad days, difficulties at work, washing machine breaking down, but the stresses and sacrifices these young men endured puts these minor irritations into perspective.

My grateful thanks to Stuart Newton who provided much background information, much of which is covered in his book “Micheldever: From the Crimea to the Somme”, and to the Roll of Honour web site, sponsored by the Ministry of Defence and the Royal British Legion who have allowed us to use their information. I have also fed back my research to the Roll of Honour web site.

Graham Pursey