Village honours memory of Somme dead
firstname.lastname@example.org 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