SOLIHULL REMEMBERS: Special exhibition on town’s World War soldiers launched

Solihull – VIJAY SHAH via DAVID IRWIN and BirminghamLive

The central England town of Solihull, which lies close to the major city of Birmingham, has launched a World War I historical exhibition to commemorate the locals who gave their lives and who fought gallantly in the ‘Great War’, which saw its centenary last year. The exhibition will feature tales of an underage soldier, a recipient of the Victoria Cross, and two soldier siblings who perished within two hours of each other on the gloomy battlefields of continental Europe.

 

As reported by city paper the Birmingham Mail and featured on its BirminghamLive news portal, the exhibition, entitled ‘Solihull Remembers 1914-1918’ is being held at the The Core’s Heritage Gallery. The Core is a council-owned community building based in the city’s Touchwood district. The event will run until 2nd of February, 2019, organisers say.

The exhibition will feature detailed displays and imagery of the time, as well as telling the stories of Solihull residents who answered the call for their country. It is the result of four years of painstaking research by the heritage and local studies service of Solihull Council, who uncovered the accounts of 800 Solihullians who died in World War I. In addition to telling stories from the front line, the exhibition will also show the public the contributions of women who joined auxiliary staff who assisted the war effort, often facing grave dangers themselves.

Tracey Williams, a council heritage and local studies librarian who was leader of the research team at the council that researched the material for the exhibits, told the Birmingham Mail: “At the latest count we have 811 casualties … the challenge has been to bring their stories to life, so it isn’t just a list of names.

“Unfortunately there are still some people we have not been able to identify, which when you consider what they went through is quite upsetting.”

Local councillor Joe Tildesley, who is cabinet member for leisure, tourism and sport and himself a descendant of a World War I soldier, praised the ‘tremendous work’ that went into organising the exhibition. He said: “It’s important that we remember all those who were killed in action,”. Solihull’s mayor, Flo Nash, who officially opened the exhibition, added: “This helps you appreciate what people lost all those years ago,”

“So many young people lost their lives and so many families lost loved ones.”

SOURCES:

interactive storytelling, ICIDS, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/icids/lists/interactive-storytelling

Solihull Updates, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/SolihullUpdates

“Visiting Solihull’s First World War exhibition” – David Irwin, BirminghamLive/Reach plc. (4 January 2019) https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/visiting-solihulls-first-world-war-15626975

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OPERATION VALOUR: Newham remembers its fallen soldiers

The London Borough of Newham recently paid respect to police officers from the area who died fighting on the Western Front during the First World War, the Newham Mag reports this week.

In a sombre ceremony of remembrance, wreaths were laid at a memorial to the fallen officers situated at Forest Gate police station on Romford Road in the north of the borough, in the east of London. Attended by local dignitaries and serving police personnel, the memorial, known as the Operation Valour stone, commemorates the 23 police officers who gave their lives for their country in WWI. The officers were members of the old ‘K Division’ which was made up of policemen from what is now Newham and the neighbouring boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, and Barking and Dagenham. The Forest Gate memorial established by Operation Valour was laid a year ago.

The K Division of the Metropolitan Police, the police force that covers most of London, was established in the wake of the Metropolitan Police Act 1829 which was the beginnings of a city-wide policing service. Over the next seventeen years, new divisions were created, of which the K Division covered the old county borough of West Ham. The other divisions were also assigned alphabetical letters, with A (Westminster), B (Chelsea), C (Mayfair and Soho), D (Marylebone), E (Holborn), F (Kensington), G (Kings Cross), H (Stepney), L (Lambeth), M (Southwark), N (Islington), P (Peckham), R (Greenwich), S (Hampstead), T (Hammersmith) and V (Wandsworth). These were then followed by extra divisions added in 1865, W covering Clapham, X for Willesden, Y for Holloway and J for Bethnal Green.

As with many other occupations and millions of other men during the First World War, policemen were conscripted to fight against the enemy and many never returned from the battlefields of Belgium and France.

At the ceremony, wreaths were laid by the borough of Newham’s police commissioner Cmdr. Tony Nash, the deputy mayor Cllr. Lester Hudson, council member for Forest Gate Cllr. Unmesh Desai, who is also the Cabinet member for crime and anti-social behaviour and representing the police themselves, PC Imran Uddin, the youngest serving officer in Newham.

Out of the 281 police from the K Division who enlisted to fight, 22 died in combat. The 23rd officer was killed by an explosion at a munitions factory in Newham’s southern district of Silvertown in 1917.

At the ceremony, Cllr. Hudson said: “This memorial stone allows residents (of Newham) to pay their respects as well as giving officers a strong everyday connection to their fallen colleagues”, the Newham Mag quoted.

The Operation Valour memorial, which is carved from simple white marble, bears two inscriptions, one of which reads: “The Glorious Dead – ‘K’ Division’ – The Great War – 1914-1918” and then lists the names and ranks of the fallen police officers in alphabetical order of surname. It was laid last year (2014) as part of celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of hostilities in 1914.

SOURCES:
“Fallen police officers remembered” – The Newham Mag [Issue 322], Newham Council, (14th August 2015)
“Victorian London Research London Police Divisions” – John Hitchcock, GenDocs http://homepage.ntlworld.com/hitch/gendocs/police.html
IMAGE CREDITS:
Getty Images via Zemanta.