Community project launched to remember Arlesey World War I servicemen
- Credit: Chris Gravett
A community-driven project has been launched to remember a town’s fallen servicemen.
Arlesey Town Council aims to commemorate the 87 servicemen who died in the Great War between 1914-18 and are named on the town’s war memorial by placing a cross on their grave.
Anyone in the village is invited to place a cross with the words ‘Arlesey Remembers You’, the soldier’s name, age and date of death on one of the graves, which span six countries and two continents.
There are 32 graves in France, 21 in Belgium, 14 in England, five in Israel, two in Turkey and one in Iraq, while the location of a further 12 remain unknown.
For the servicemen’s grave located in Iraq, the British Embassy in Baghdad has agreed to place a cross on the council’s behalf due to the security situation precluding anyone visiting.
For those whose bodies were never found, a cross will be place at an unnamed grave in the cemetery where they have been commemorated.
It has aslo been decided that a cross will be placed at the base of the Arlesey War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday for servicemen for which no record of their grave or a commemoration can be found.
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Town councillor Duncan Wang, who came up with the idea in November last year and put it to the council the following month, said: “It will be quite a challenge as we want to do more than simply place a cross in each grave. We want as many people involved as possible and it will be a volunteer-driven project.
“The research we undertake will require a lot of depth. For example we have 12 people with absolutely no information at all – it’s there somewhere but we need to find it.
“We have had a lot of responses already from families, schools and youth groups who want to get involved and I think this project could be very significant for the town. Little is known about these people on an alphabetical list and we want to bring it all together and remember them.”
Those visiting the graves will also be asked to hold a brief remembrance ceremony and take photographs.
It is hoped that the first crosses will be placed in the cemetery at St Peter’s Church in Arlesey – where there are graves of 10 servicemen – in April as part of this year’s Arlesey Town Council Civic Service, with the last placed at Arlesey War Memorial during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony in November.
The council also hopes to create a website dedicated to the fallen and produce a television documentary about the project.
Anyone who has information or is interested in being part of the project can email Duncan Wang at email@example.com or call fellow councillor Chris Gravett on 07710 525221.