Launch of the ‘Lest We Forget’ First World War Project

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The ‘Lest We Forget: Each one was some mother’s son’ First World War memorial project was officially launched on Saturday morning at the World War I exhibition at Holy Trinity Church.  The project has recently been awarded £8,200 by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Mike Willoughby the Project Co-ordinator was joined by John Howell MP, the Mayor, Stefan Gawrysiak, previous Mayor, Liz Hodgkin, Reverend Duncan Carter of Holy Trinity Church, invited guests and visitors to the exhibition.

Duncan Carter opened the speeches with an introduction, “I met Mike a few years ago outside in the churchyard looking for local soldiers’ graves.  He had already been researching the Henley soldiers for about 4 years at that time. We then forged a good friendship and our mutual interest in the First World War led to the start of the journey towards this important memorial project.”

Liz Hodgkin then spoke, “After the Remembrance Day service last year, I was honoured to be asked by Mike and Duncan to get involved in this project to get three new memorials in Henley to include the names of all the servicemen, particularly those 70 who are currently not featured on any memorial.”

Mayor, Stefan Gawrysiak then added, “This is not only important for the centenary next August but going forward we should have a memorial to honour the bravery of these servicemen for the next generation to see.”

At the entrance to the exhibition, Mike’s vision for this project perfectly sums it up…

The following is taken from the deliberations of Lieutenant Henry Lawson 10th Manchester Regiment on the letters he was writing to the families of the men he had lost during World War I. “It seemed to me that there was no tangible reward for their sacrifice, no particular glory, no presentation of a decoration, only a name carved on a memorial.”

Mike’s response to this is, “Surely this is reason enough for us to ensure that at least as far as possible all of the names of the men who gave their lives from Henley and local villages, in or as a direct result of the conflict, are recorded in time for the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of  World War I.  If in some cases the men happen to end up recorded on more than one memorial, surely this is better than that they are not recorded on any?”

The Heritage Lottery Fund award will pay for 70% of the project which as well as the memorial plaques sited in three locations around the town there will be a virtual book available in the Town Hall Information Office with searchable public access, a 200 page printed book containing information on the life and death of the men and an educational programme involving exhibitions and talks to community groups and schools.

The exhibition which includes original and replica artefacts of the war, including weapons, uniforms, equipment, medals, photos, and a mock-up trench is open to the public again this week on Friday 14 November (2-7pm) and Saturday 15 November (10-6pm).  All the local primary schools have been invited to go and visit the exhibition this week.  John Howell MP said, “I have been very moved by this exhibition.”

To keep up-to-date with this important project or to make a donation, visit www.henley-lestweforget.co.uk

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