Vil­lage hon­ours me­mory of Somme dead

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Remember When? - By Adele Couch­man

ken­tish­ex­press@thek­m­group.co.uk The lives of seven soldiers from Great Chart and thou­sands of other ser­vice­men will be re­mem­bered as the vil­lage com­mem­o­rates the 100th an­niver­sary of the Bat­tle of the Somme in the First World War.

Two cer­e­monies will take place on Fri­day, July 1, at the vil­lage’s St Mary’s Church with spe­cial guests in­clud­ing the Mayor of Ash­ford, Cllr George Koowa­ree, and Folkestone MP Damian Collins.

There will be seven flags, one for each of the men from the vil­lage who never re­turned home, with a plaque beneath them telling the story of what hap­pened to each in­di­vid­ual dur­ing the lengthy bat­tle.

The Bat­tle of the Somme, fought in Northern France, was one of the blood­i­est of the First World War. For five gru­elling months, the Bri­tish and French armies fought the Ger­mans, with more than 57,000 ca­su­al­ties on its first day alone.

One of the men who lost their lives on that tragic day was a 26-year-old sol­dier from Great Chart, Fred­er­ick Tutt – whose only brother, Thomas Tutt, died just 11 weeks af­ter him aged 22.

Both have no known graves, but are listed next to each other on the Thiep­val Memo­rial to The Miss­ing of the Somme, where miss­ing ser­vice­men are com­mem­o­rated.

Ian Wolver­son, 73, who leads the Great Chart Re­mem­bers group, said some of the let­ters writ­ten home by soldiers from the vil­lage will be read out dur­ing the ser­vice. Great Chart is renowned for its col­lec­tion of First World War let­ters sent back to loved ones by men in the ser­vices dur­ing that ter­ri­ble con­flict.

Mr Wolver­son said: “The let­ters are re­ally quite poignant in what they say. One of them is writ­ten by the last of the two broth­ers who fought in the Somme, where he de­scribes the loss of his older brother.

“Th­ese mon­u­ments we Younger brother Thomas Tutt, killed in ac­tion aged 22 11 weeks af­ter Fred­er­ick died have are ab­so­lutely unique, and no other vil­lage has this type of cor­re­spon­dence. Great Chart Re­mem­bers is about com­mem­o­rat­ing the in­di­vid­u­als who were lost in the First World War, and we be­lieve th­ese let­ters give a real in­sight into th­ese peo­ple’s lives.”

The com­mem­o­ra­tion will also host an ex­hi­bi­tion of the let­ters writ­ten to Great Chart woman El­iz­a­beth Quin­ton Strouts, who sent out al­most 1,000 let­ters and 6,000 parcels to en­listed men from her vil­lage.

The cor­re­spon­dence sent back to her re­veals much of the daily life they were forced to en­dure in the trenches. They will re­main in St Mary’s church for 141 days un­til Novem­ber 18 to mark the length of the bat­tle.

The first pre­sen­ta­tion will take place at 10am, where five schools will be in­volved in a church ser­vice and lay­ing wreaths at the War Memo­rial. A two-minute si­lence will be­gin at the memo­rial at 11am, fol­lowed by a sec­ond ser­vice in the evening at 7.30pm.

‘The let­ters are re­ally quite poignant in what they say…no other vil­lage has this type of cor­re­spon­dence’

Great Chart will be re­mem­ber­ing the seven men the vil­lage lost in the Bat­tle of the Somme at ser­vices to mark the 100th an­niver­sary

Re­mem­brance plaques were placed along The Street last year, one for each man from Great Chart lost in the course of both world wars

Fred­er­ick Tutt, who was one of the 57,000 ca­su­al­ties on the first day of bat­tle

Ian Wolver­son leads the Great Chart Re­mem­bers group

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