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Remembering Local War Heroes

Cannock and District Soroptimists welcomed back local Historian Paul Bedford for their recent Speaker Meeting. The meeting was led by Team President Lynn Bedford; his talk this year was based on his book “Not Just Names” which pays tribute to the fallen soldiers of Cannock Chase.

Paul explained how he had always been fascinated by the Great War 1914 – 1918 and had studied History at University. He became curious about the real people behind the names of the fallen soldiers and what their personal stories may be.  His research so far has taken over ten years and is made so much easier now that there are sites such as Ancestry and Find My Past.

Paul gave a taste of some soldiers’ stories – many of course had been miners.

Sapper Thomas Brough was born in Calf Heath and later lived in Chadsmoor with his wife Amanda and seven children. He was a coal miner and colliery fireman at East Cannock Colliery.  Despite being over the maximum age, he volunteered to join the 175th Tunnelling Company, the Royal Engineers. Tragically he was shot by a sniper and died on Christmas Day 1915 – less than six months after joining; he was aged 47.

Many men died much younger. 2nd Lieutenant Cyril Duncan Whitehouse from Bridgtown was one of ten children of Hayden and Fanny Whitehouse. Their grandfather Cornelius had founded the very successful Edge Tool Company of Bridgtown. Cyril was educated at Queen Mary’s Grammar School in Walsall and held a certificate from the Officers Training Corps. He was commissioned and sent to France in 1917, went missing in action and was later confirmed dead. Cyril was only 21 and is remembered on the Arras memorial in France like many soldiers with no known grave.

After the presentation members commented on their own relatives who had fought in the war who were all reluctant to talk about their experiences; this makes it important to keep these stories alive. These men sacrificed their lives. They were someone’s son, brother, father, friend; their deaths left families devastated.  We must remember them and all that we owe to them.


Photo: Speaker Paul Bedford with Team President Lynn Bedford