Exhibition sheds light on fallen heroes of village community for first time

Organisers preparing the Great War exhibition at Whitechapel village hall
The display is in tribute to the 12 soldiers listed on the St James' Church War Memorial
Organisers preparing the Great War exhibition at Whitechapel village hall The display is in tribute to the 12 soldiers listed on the St James' Church War Memorial
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The stories of brave soldiers from Whitechapel, whose names appear on the St James’ War memorial, are set to be re-told for a First World War exhibition.

Organisers say the special display is thanks to a response to their appeal for information on the 12 men inscribed on the churchyard memorial.

Whitechapel's War Memorial

Whitechapel's War Memorial

A research committee was set-up by the members of the church and spokesman John Pearson says the group have been delighted after several families with past connections to the village of Whitechapel, near Preston, came forward to help honour those from the parish who died.

Among the memorabilia on show at Whitechapel Village Hall this Saturday November 12 from 10am, will be medals, original letters and photographs.

John says: “We hope people will find this new exhibition enlightening - for many years we have gathered around the memorial on Remembrance Sunday to pay our respects to soliders of the village, we have known so little about.

“With some very basic information, kindly shared with us from the the National Archives at Kew, we have managed to learn more about who they were.

“We have had families from across Lancashire who have come forward, who have either never visited the village and distant relatives who have never met. It’s tremendous.”

The names on the memorial are John Bourn, John Harrison, Thomas Ireland, William Ireland, Henry Carefoot, Charles Mason, John McLean, John Parker, James Rawcliffe, Andrew Robinson, William Robinson and Andrew Smith.

One of the stories to be shared is that of Private John Parker, 1st Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment, who was killed on September 24 1918, just weeks before the Armistice of November 11, aged 24.

John Pearson, who has helped to carry out much of the research, adds: “Among the 12 men whose names are inscribed on the War Memorial, our research confirms that two cousins lost their lives, Lieutenant John Bourn and Private Andrew Robinson, while in the Ireland family, two brothers Private Thomas Ireland and Private William Ireland and their cousin Private Henry Kerfoot also died.”

John says the group have been encouraged by the interest shown across the village and wider community.

As part of the project they have discovered the homes from which the soldiers were living in the area before they left for war and have been in touch with the current residents.

John is hoping the information will encourage even more families to reconnect with their own family histories. He says: “In several instances the whereabouts of medals, letters, photographs are unknown, which is not surprising after almost a hundred years since their death; however, with the knowledge of the forthcoming exhibition, it has given some the impetus to commence a search among other family members. The exhibition is open to all and admission is free. Refreshments will be available throughout the day.

Twice during the day of the exhibition, at 11am and 1pm, a WW1 film will be shown which was made prior to the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916 and in the weeks after.

Millions of people were reported to have flooded cinemas during 1916 in the hope of glancing a view of their loved ones. The exhibition will be open at the village hall from 10am to 3pm. Organisers would appreciate any information relating to those commemorated, including photographs, letters, memorabilia, press clippings etc

If anyone has any further information, please contact John Pearson via email at johnpearson30@hotmail.co.uk or by telephone on 01772 864289.