The volume of material already
released on the First World War leaves the investigative writer with no option
but to seek out new angles, news stories, something different. A Dorset Parish Remembers,
1914-1919, provides all of those.
the war dead, a national newspaper said as recently as June 2014: ‘But we do not remember them. Only their
names are known to us…we did not and cannot know them’. There is a conundrum.
Remembrance Sunday, in churches throughout the land, congregations dutifully
declare ‘We will remember them’. When The Times first published Laurence Binyon’s
eulogy to the fallen on 21st September 1914, people did remember
them. They were known. A hundred years on, that is not the case. As a rule, the
names read out are those of strangers.
that is no longer true in the hidden Dorset parish of Powerstock, which refused
to accept their eleven First World War dead would remain unknown for ever. In
November 2013, a pledge was made that in a year’s time, at the Centenary
Remembrance Service, the parish’s long-forgotten servicemen would be both known
and remembered. The parishioners wrote a book. Now, when they come to say ‘we
will remember them’, they will mean it. It will be true.
call went out for volunteers to adopt one of the dead and tell in one chapter
all that was known of him. Among those who joined the research and
administration teams were farmers, a musician, the policeman and his wife
living in the parish, a former soldier, two former sailors, a businessman,
retired and serving teachers, a journalist and the owner of holiday
accommodation. It had been a tremendous community endeavour.
book was published on 26th July 2014. Each man’s important story is
told in a vivid and original way. Apart from the touching record of each of
those who died, there are extraordinary findings and many unexpected
connections as well. Most of these men died immense distances away from their
quiet village homes, from Powerstock to Basra Mesopotamia, Egypt, Gallipoli,
Jutland, Poona and Vladivostok.
book is a reassuring guide for others not prepared to accept we cannot know
those who had sacrificed so much. It is no coincidence that the Royal British
Legion has as this year’s theme ‘Every Man Remembered’.
Copies of the book can be obtained from:
Milton Mill Publishing
£9.99 (£7.99 + £2.00 p&p)
Cheques to be made payable to Milton Mill Publishing.