Memorials a reminder of our lost generation
A new memorial will list, for the first time, the names of all 14,000 from Notts who perished in the Great War. It will join more than 640 memorials in towns and villages across the county.
ACCORDING to the United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials website, there are more than 640 entries for First World War memorials in Nottinghamshire.
They range from the mighty memorial arch on Victoria Embankment which honours all the fallen, to small, individual plaques dotted around churches and public places across the county.
Nationwide, more than 100,000 memorials were erected in the years after the end of the First World War, reflecting the public’s mood as they counted the cost of “the war to end all wars” – 887,000 UK military deaths. A generation lost.
It was a remarkable public response to the grievous losses the county suffered during the First World War.
Now, a new memorial is to be added to the catalogue. The Great War Memorial, to be created by Nottinghamshire County Council and sited at Victoria Embankment, will be the first to incorporate a roll of honour for armed services fatalities for the whole of the county together, rather than a city, town, village or workplace.
All 14,000 names of the fallen will be etched into a circular stone surrounding the monument, which will be lit to attract visitors and to allow quiet reflection at any time.
The council is currently finalising funding for the memorial, and work is expected to start in the near future.
The vast majority of those names belonged to young infantrymen serving on the Western Front. Nottingham alone suffered more than 6,500 military casualties and throughout the county only four villages welcomed back every man who enlisted.
Today, Cromwell, Maplebeck, Wigsley and Wysall are known as Thankful Villages, a term coined by Stapleford-born writer and journalist Arthur Mee in his King’s England, a guide to the counties of England in the 1930s.
Among the 16,000 villages in England, Mee estimated that there were at most 32 Thankful Villages, although he could only positively identify 24.
They were, indeed, the lucky ones. Contrast their fate with Tithby near Bingham. At the time of the Great War it consisted of just 20 houses … but still had to bear the grief of 17 village sons going to their deaths.
Six Nottinghamshire-born heroes received the ultimate award for valour, the Victoria Cross. They were Sneinton-born Sapper William Hackett, who served in the 254th Tunnelling Company Royal Engineers; Sergeant William Henry Johnson, from Worksop, 1/5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters; Colonel Sir Charles Geoffrey Vickers, 1/7th Robin Hood Battalion, Sherwood Foresters; Captain Albert Ball, from Lenton, 7th Robin Hood Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, and Royal Flying Corps; Private Samuel Harvey, Basford, 1st Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment; and Wilfrid Dolby Fuller, East Kirby, Greasley, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards.
They were the honoured few, but the tens of thousands of recruits from the county who served, and who died in combat, from their wounds, or from disease, deserve their memory to be honoured.
And when heads are bowed tomorrow at war memorials around the county, it should also be remembered that the civilian population bore a heavy burden.
Nationwide more than 16,000 men, women and children, including several victims of the 1916 Zeppelin raid on Nottingham, were killed as a result of enemy action.
The design for Nottingham’s new war memorial for Victoria Embankment