Last week we received a phone call from Christchurch Borough Council. They had discovered a marble memorial tablet in a heap of rubbish dumped on one of their beaches. The memorial refered to the men of the parish who had joined the colours (i.e. served in the forces) during the First World War, and listed 4 names of those who had died. Unfortunately (and not unusually) it didn’t say which parish!
There seemed a strong possibility that the tablet had been stripped from a local redundant church during renovation. If they could discover where the church was it might be possible to return the memorial to the local community and find somehwere for it to be displayed.
The first place to start was with the names. In addition to the surname, we were lucky that the memorial gave both full first names and a middle initial. Many memorials list individuals only by their surname and first initial which makes identifying the men much harder.
Using the Commonwealth War Gaves Commission’s Debt of Honour register we were able to positively identify three of the men. Two of these had next of kin who lived in the same small area of Poole. Using a publication called ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’, we were able to discover that the third man had also lived in that area at the time he enlisted in the army.
Enquiries are still ongoing!
The men were,
Walter H Dyke (died 5 December 1917, aged 19)
William J Gillingham (died 27 October 1915, aged 19)
James C Hall (died 6 May 1918)
Edward C Elliott