A lesson in the horrors of war could help us to end them

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The First world War is a subject close to the heart of Sutton grandad Ian Kerry.

Mr Kerry well known for spearheading a campaign to restore war memorials in the area has just finished compiling a album commemorating the life of his uncle who was killed in the conflict.

Ian collects memorabilia from both world wars, including medals, shell cases a small library of books, letters and postcards from the period. He hopes his will help future generations understand the horror and futiliy of war, particularly his own grandchildren.

Pride of his collection is an album he has compiled detailing the documents and effects of his uncle, Private Harold Kerry of the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment),

Pvt Kerry died aged just 22 after he was shot buy a sniper two months before the conflict ended in 1918.

His battalion was holding Gauche Wood at Villers-Guislain France.

He is buried among hundreds of fellow fallen soldiers at the Villers Hill British Cemetery there.

Ian said: “Before I retired I visited the battlefields at Ypres for 12 years. I made my pilgrimage to my uncle’s grave and I was the first member of my family to see it. It was very moving.

“I was the first to visit my uncles grave . His generation couldn’t afford to go there- they had to scrape a living.

“His own father died during his time in the army. His mother, my grandmother, Anna Kerry never got over Harold getting killed.

“I was told she threw his medals into the ash pit. All she was paid was her 50p a week war widow’s pension.

“She had to sign a receipt for his belongings and all she was sent back was his glasses,”

Ian has made a wax crayon rubbing of the gravestone, which has the Sherwood Foresters badge engraved on it.

He has collected all the documentation he could find, including a War Diary intelligence Summary with accounts of the campaign Harold was part of and his army medical which described the former miner as ‘underweight’for his 5ft 2ins.

Mr Kerry also has a copy of the Blackwell Colliery War Souvenir, a book made by the private Blackwell Colliery Company, detailing the war dead from the pits it owned in the area.

Pvt Kerry, who was from South Normanton, had been employed as a miner at the B Winning Colliery at Hilcote.

As the country commemorates the centenary of the First World War, Mr Kerry says it is vitally important that younger generations appreciate the true horror of what happened.

His own uncle, Mr Kerry said: “We lost 1.5 million soldiers in the Great war. It should never be forgotten I have three grandsons and I am hoping they will take an interest in the subject.

“This was the war to end all wars, it didn’t work then and it never will.”

He is a member of the War Graves Commission and Friends of Ashfield War Memorials group, which campaigned to get all memorials in Ashfield cleaned and repaired six years ago.

Mr Kerry said: “I have already written to the House of Commons suggesting Armistice Day November 11 should be a bank holiday.

“I don’t know if it is right or wrong to commemorate the start of World War One, but you should never glorify war ever.

“If people in Sutton looked back into their family history eight out of 10 would have somebody in the conflict.”