#RochfordTommies to tour the district
Residents are urged to look out for three ‘Tommy’ soldier silhouettes, which will be touring the Rochford district in the lead up to Remembrance Day in order to educate all generations about those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The life-sized statues will appear at various different locations, and residents are urged to take photographs and share them on social media using the hashtag #RochfordTommies.
The Council has purchased the silhouettes to enable local people to have the opportunity to take part in a nation-wide project called ‘ThereButNotThere’ which is designed to:
Commemorate those who died in the First World War
Educate all generations, particularly today’s younger generation, born nearly 100 years after the outbreak of WW1, to understand what led to the deaths of 888,246 British and Commonwealth service personnel.
Heal today’s veterans who are suffering from the mental and physical wounds of their service by raising substantial funds through sales of the Tommy silhouettes.
Chairman of Rochford District Council, Cllr David Merrick, said: "I am very much looking forward to seeing our ‘Tommy’ soldiers as they tour the district. These figures send out a poignant message – that we should all stop and take time to think about those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War.
"I would urge everyone to look out for these silhouettes and to circulate photographs on social media with the hashtag #RochfordTommies, as a fitting tribute to our fallen heroes."
The foundation of the charity ‘Remembered’ was inspired by the ‘ThereButNotThere’ project. For more information, or to donate, go to www.therebutnotthere.org.uk
In addition, Rochford District Council publishes a record to remember the sacrifice of more than 400 local men who died in the First World War, which is accessible below.
The ‘Roll of Honour’ details the name of each man, unit or ship in which he served, date he died, and where he is buried or the memorial where he is remembered.
But it also includes some tragic stories; the soldier who was killed in action while working as a stretcher bearer carrying a casualty as a result of shellfire, the Petty Officer killed on a ship which blew up at anchor with the loss of 800 men, and the Captain who died on active service from a mid-air collision over Shotgate when searching at night for Gotha Bombers. It also gives us a clear picture of the tender age of some of these men including the sailor who worked as a telegraphist and died aged just 15.
The details provided include, where possible, where these men lived, their occupation, family members, and how they died. In some cases, families lost more than one son.
For some there are gravestone inscriptions, including one to "a faithful soldier," others are recognised for having been awarded decorations for gallantry.
The list was complied using the current day District boundary and includes not just those that were living in the area at the time of the War but those that have had a link to the area through residence or family connections.
It is acknowledged that this list is probably not complete or that some of those included have no more than a tenuous link to the District but it was deemed better to remember than to exclude.
It shows how these local men served in all branches of the British Armed Forces, The Royal Navy, The Army, Royal Marines, Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force across a wide range of units or Regiments. Men that had a connection to the area prior to the War but had emigrated returned to serve in Canadian, Australian and other Empire nation uniforms. Some were existing servicemen, some were in the Reserves or Territorial Force, many volunteered and others were conscripted.
Service was seen in all of the theatres of war across the world; The Western Front, Italy, Salonika, Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Africa and at sea. Men from the District area fought in all of the major battles; Mons, Ypres, The Somme, Arras, Passchendaele, Amiens, Gallipoli, Gaza and Jutland to name just a few.
Many died in action or of wounds and several died as a result of accident or illness.
Not all of the Fallen are accorded a named grave and those are remembered on the huge memorials across the various battlefields across the world. Many are also remembered on memorials throughout the District and several are buried in the District.
There are also photographs of headstones and names on Memorials of some of the fallen (from what was the District in 1914-18), which are now available to view at https://www.flickr.com/photos/rochfordcouncil/albums/72157699507217052.
NOTE: The list was compiled as a personal project by Rochford District Council employee, Jim Kevany, who is a member of The Western Front Association, working collaboratively with Mike Davies and John Priestley (Rayleigh Through the Looking Glass) www.rayleighhistory.co.uk Viv Irvine (Rochford District Community Archive) www.rdca.org.uk , John Baker of the Southend on Sea Branch, Western Front Association, Karen Dennis – Memorial Officer, Essex Branch, Western Front Association, and John Priestley .