A handful of villages had no casualties
THE mass slaughter of the First World War robbed the UK of a million lives, leaving virtually no part of the country untouched.
But a tiny number of villages which men off to war, became known as “thankful villages”.
The term was coined in the 1930s by the writer Arthur Mee to describe communities which suffered no military fatalities in the 1914-1918 conflict.
Among them are five in Leicestershire and a sixth in Rutland.
They are Saxby, East Norton, Stretton-en-le-Field, Willesley – which sent three men – and Willoughby Waterleys, plus Teigh,in Rutland, that had 11 serving men.
Mee’s national list originally stood at 32, but has now climbed to 51, or 52, depending on different sources.
John Dyson, chairman of the East Norton Parish Meeting said: “We weren’t identified as a thankful village until about 30 years ago.
“There is a memorial window in All Saints Church offering thanks for the safe return of all the men from the First World War.”
Mr Dyson, who said the number of men who went and came home is not known, said: “It is confusing because there is a plaque in the church to men who died in the conflict.
“But to be a thankful village all the men who went off to war had to have left from the village.
“While there were losses among men who were born in East Norton, they had left the village, upon marrying for example and so left for war from another village.”
East Norton’s heritage website enheritage.btck.co.uk/WW1 also notes there is a brass plaque on the church wall in memory of two brothers who died on Active Service in the Great War.
Captain John B Matthews and Captain William F Matthews had not lived in East Norton, though their parents, Major and Mrs Matthews, had lived in Loddington.
The website said: “When Major Matthews was mobilized with his Territorial Battalion, Mrs Matthews moved to a cottage in East Norton where she lived on her own.
“On demobilization, Major Matthews joined her there, but they soon moved, briefly to Ashley, and thence to Weston-by-Welland.
“There is also a soldier commemorated on his parents’ grave in All Saints churchyard.
“He is Private Francis Smeeton Glover, of 8th Battalion, the Leicestershire Regiment, but his record shows that he was resident at Oakham.
“Pte Glover is not buried with his parents at East Norton.
“He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.”
Mr Dyson added: “The population of East Norton today is just over 100, in 30 houses, but the population would have ben greater 100 years ago.”
The Rutland Remembers website reports that on the war memorial in Holy Trinity Church, in Teigh, there is the name of William Haines who was killed in the Battle of the Somme.
It said: “We have William down as coming from nearby Market Overton but it’s possible he spent a considerable amount of time in Teigh.”
A Royal British Legion spokesman said: “The Legion’s policy on Remembrance is that we include recognition of both the service and sacrifice, not only the fallen but all who put themselves in harm’s way in the nation’s interest.
“We are running a Thank You movement which recognises the entire First World War generation, to all who served, sacrificed and changed our world.”
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