Stories of soldiers retold in exhibition
STORIES behind the names of men from the Ashford area who were killed in the First World War were vividly bought to life at an exhibition at Centrepiece Church.
On display on Saturday, were photographs, letters, newspaper reports and facts about many of the soldiers and sailors from Ashford Railway Works, Kennington, Kingsnorth, Molash and Hollingbourne whose names appear on local war memorials.
Details of where they lived and went to school, their interests and how they died were researched by students who attended a course entitled Not Just A Name, run by the Workers’ Education Association, in Ashford.
There were poignant stories of bravery and courage shown by young men who rushed to join up, only to find themselves thrown into the horrors of trench warfare.
Some were buried where they fell, and many have no known graves.
More than 80 men from Ashford Railway Works died in the Great War. Familiar names included, Mummery, Hills, Lancefield and Laker.
Many had strong links with Newtown, Willesborough and the parish of Christchurch, South Ashford. George Smail, a blacksmith’s mate who lived on Beaver Road and served in the Royal Navy was 22 years when he was killed in 1917.
Alex Jennings, of Kennington Hall, was at university in Zurich when war broke out and was desperate to return home and enlist.
His father persuaded him to take his final exam, and an hour after it ended he was on a train back to England.
He wrote a fascinating account of his journey from England to Gallipoli where he was struck down by typhoid. While recovering at home, he took private flying lessons and joined the Royal Flying Corps, but was killed age 22.
The memorials were researched by Gina Baines (Railway Works); Robin and Jill Britcher (Kennington); Ken Dunstan (Kingsnorth); Eric Goodwin (Molash) and Rita Moon and Alan Williams (Hollingbourne).
Local communities responded to appeals for information and loaned photos and original documents, as well as sharing memories that have been passed down through their families.
Visitors to the exhibition provided new information, which will be followed up to help complete the picture of each man.
Researchers and visitors to an exhibition remembering soldiers who died in the First World War