Bomb victims and fallen remembered at services
More than 500 people came together in Great Chart to honour the fallen and wounded soldiers from both world wars.
Three events were held in the village last Monday and Sunday to mark three poignant anniversaries: 100 years since the First World War was declared; 70 years since RAF 5003 Squadron lost 15 men when their camp was bombed; and 70 years since three squadrons of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF), based in Ashford, flew to France.
About 400 people attended an evening service at St Mary’s Church on the Monday, led by Great Chart Remembers member Ian Wolverson and including three visual presentations.
The unveiling of memorial plaques at the village’s war memorial followed the service.
The monument was originally unveiled 93 years ago and included the names of the men who died between 1914-18.
Seven men who were killed during the conflict and not originally included have now been added at the back of the memorial.
Mr Wolverson said: “With these seven men added the total loss from the village in the First World War was 27.
“Another seven were so badly wounded they were discharged from service. That is 34 out of the 119 men called to the colours – nearly 30%. There are many sad stories of those lost.”
Another plaque was dedicated to the 25 men who were lost on missions from Great Chart’s airfield during the Second World War, and another to the 15 men of RAF 5003 Squadron, lost to a single bomb in 1944 at the camp at Coleman’s Kitchen.
Captain Bernie Sledzik, of 514th Squadron USAAF, who flew missions from Great Chart during the Second World War, travelled to the UK for the event.
In addition to the church service and services at the memorial, an exhibition displaying a collection of First World War letters sent home by men in the services during the conflict was held in Great Chart Village Hall over both days.
The service at the war memorial and at St Mary’s Church at Great Chart