Hucknall’s forgotten heroes

Remembrance Day at Hucknall Cenotaph
Remembrance Day at Hucknall Cenotaph

THE NAMES of 100 brave men from Hucknall who gave their lives fighting for their country in the First World War are missing from the town’s war memorial, the Dispatch can exclusively reveal.

The soldiers have now been dubbed ‘Hucknall’s forgotten heroes’.

An investigation launched by the town’s branch of the Royal British Legion and leading member Mick Howard has unearthed the travesty.

Now a call has been made for the men to be honoured with a new plaque added to the Hucknall cenotaph, which stands proudly in Titchfield Park as a monument to the town’s war dead.

“These are 100 names that deserve recognition,” said Mr Howard, who is a retired Army Major.

“I was absolutely astounded when I realised how many names were actually missing from the memorial. These are men who were all born in Hucknall or lived in the town at the time of enlistment.

“I don’t know the reason why their names are not on the cenotaph. But I think the focus now should be on rectifying that mistake and paying a fitting tribute to their memory.”

Last year, the Dispatch backed a campaign, launched by Mr Howard, to unearth the names of all Hucknall men and women killed in conflicts since 1945.

This followed a realisation that were no inscriptions on Hucknall cenotaph relating to the last 56 years. The only names related to the two World Wars.

This is despite 1968 being the only year British troops haven’t been involved in some conflict around the globe since World War Two.

In 2009, a plaque was added to the memorial to honour Lance Corporal Paul Sandford, of Hucknall, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2007.

And last year, the names of Private Ronald Shilton, who was killed in Cyprus in 1957, and Corporal Colin Housley, who died in Malaya in 1953, were also added.

But then a mystery was uncovered that stemmed from the theft of a plaque from the memorial in the early 1990s.

It was replaced by Ashfield District Council but the name of Sgt Stephen Lee, of the 13th Battalion Rifle Brigade, who was killed on April 28 1917, during World War One, was still missing.

The soldier’s daughter made the discovery when taking her own daughter to the park to see the name on the cenotaph.

This was relayed to Mr Howard, who began to suspect other names were missing. He got in touch with Hucknall man Jim Grundy, who helped with the research.

In turn, inquiries were made through the publication ‘Soldiers Died In The Great War 1921’, which is 80 volumes long and features 800,000 names. Records held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission were also checked.

Among the names discovered are those who were killed in action, some who died after the war from wounds inflicted during bloody battles, men killed in accidents and even some who died from problems, such as disease, unrelated to enemy engagement.

Men from a vast array of regiments are included, ranging from the King’s Royal Rifle Corps to the Sherwood Foresters, Coldstream Guards, Royal Scotts Fusiliers and Lincolnshire Regiment, among others.

Mr Howard said: “The important thing is that the names are all verifiable. There is no grey area. These are all heroes connected to Hucknall.

“These are literally Hucknall’s forgotten heroes. There will be some amazing stories behind their exploits on the front line and in service.

“The least we can do is honour their memory by having their names included on the cenotaph.”

The aim now is to seek funding, which is likely to amount to several thousands of pounds, to have the names inscribed on a new plaque for the cenotaph.

This may involve a public appeal for donations.

A spokesman for Ashfield District Council, which maintains the cenotaph in Hucknall, said: “We pay respect and recognise the efforts of our fallen soldiers of the district.

“In recognition, we have, in recent years, set aside additional funds which have gone towards various restoration works to the cenotaph.

“The council has an ongoing positive relationship with the Royal British Legion and has worked closely with the organisation on numerous projects in the past.

“The council is aware of the names that have been discovered and will be working in partnership with the Legion to consider what options are possible.”