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‘Fascinating’ lives of fallen soldiers to be remembered in Wanstead church exhibition

Chris Walker with the memorial at Wanstead United Reformed Church which has the names of 15 men who died in the first world war. Chris Walker with the memorial at Wanstead United Reformed Church which has the names of 15 men who died in the first world war.

Sunday, August 3, 2014
6:01 PM

A group of 15 men who lost their lives in the First World War will be remembered in the presence of their descendants thanks to a dedicated churchgoer.

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Chris Walker with the memorial at Wanstead United Reformed Church which has the names of 15 men who died in the first world war.Chris Walker with the memorial at Wanstead United Reformed Church which has the names of 15 men who died in the first world war.

Families of the fallen men have been invited to a special service and exhibition at Wanstead United Reformed Church next Sunday (August 10) in commemoration of the centenary of the conflict.

Their names feature on a war memorial which was unveiled in the church in January 1921.

To mark the centenary, members of the church decided to track down the soldiers’ relatives and research their lives.

Keen historian Maggie Brown led the project, which will be on show for families and church members at the event.

She said: “We wanted to turn the names written in stone into remembered lives.

“The project is about regaining that emotional connection with the families of the men who worshipped in the church and lost their lives in the First World War.

“Their stories are absolutely fascinating.”

Chartered librarian Maggie, who lives in Chingford, started the project in February.

She discovered the 15 men – who she fondly refers to as her “chaps” – have family living all over Britain and as far as Canada and Australia.

“They were all loved. They were husbands, they were brothers, they were fathers, nephews, uncles, and they were loved,” she said.

“They are not just names, they were people. We make promises every Armistice Day ‘we shall remember them’.

“As long as there’s a war somewhere in the world, we should remember the war dead. We have to remember how awful war is.”

Maggie’s research looks not only into the soldiers’ personal experiences but also the social changes which took place in the wider community of Wanstead as it developed from a small rural community into a London suburb.

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