Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the Bridgnorth area who died during the two World Wars.
Information has been drawn from a number of sources including:–
The records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (which list the bare details of a man – his rank, name, number, unit, date of death and place of burial or commemoration. They often include extra information – usually details of the man’s wife or parents).
Soldiers Who Died In The Great War (an official list published by HMSO in 1921) draws on military records - most of which have since been destroyed. It may add place of birth, residence and enlistment and details of other units in which the man served. It also gives an idea as to how the man died, using specific terms such as ‘killed in action’, ‘died of wounds’ or just plain ‘died’ (presumably accidentally or of ‘natural causes’).
After the bulk of the research for this website was done the Shropshire's Sacrifice in the Great War site was launched. This roll of honour links the names of the men on the county's Great War memorials with the details of their rank, number, regiment, official cause and date of death and place of burial. It has provided reassuring confirmation of work already done and is proving a useful source for work still in progress.
The national indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths, and the baptism registers of St Leonard’s and St Mary Magdalene, have usually made it possible to identify a man’s family. This has been expanded with information drawn from the national censuses – particularly those of 1901 and 1911.
The Bridgnorth Journal reported the deaths of many servicemen. The amount of detail tends to reflect the social standing of the man or his family, but useful biographical information is often given about even the poorest. The extra details given in the newspaper have proved invaluable in identifying the men on the memorial. Using the Journal has been made much easier by Gwynne Chadwick's chronological summaries in his Bridgnorth - News and Events between 1901 and 1920.
I am grateful to Mrs Peeler and the Bridgnorth Endowed School and to Bridgnorth Northgate Museum for access to surviving issues of the Bridgnorth Grammar School Old Boys' Magazine.
In some cases the man’s service record has survived - although the majority were destroyed by enemy bombing in September 1940. The surviving records are mostly those of men who were discharged with wounds or illness: their records were transferred to the Ministry of Pensions and so avoided the bombing.
An anonymous typescript kept under the war memorial at St Leonard's Church contains information about the men named on the memorial there. I understand that this booklet is the work of the late Graham Hodgson.
I have tried to give an indication of the circumstances in which each man died - though this is rarely recorded in any of the official sources which I have consulted. It has generally been deduced from where they are buried or from what their unit is recorded as doing on that day. Sometimes a man died on a day when their unit is known to have been involved in a battle; more often, ‘killed in action’ deaths occur between battles, probably as a result of artillery fire, sniping or trench mortars.
As I have the time and opportunity I am consulting the War Diaries and Regimental Histories of the units in which the men commemorated on the memorials served. Much information has been drawn from The History of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry in the Great War 1914 - 1918 Ed. W de B. Wood. London, 1925.
It must be remembered that official records were being recorded in difficult circumstances and may not always be accurate. The date of a man's death was often decided long after the event (which may not have been witnessed by anyone). There is evidence that, where death may have occured over a period of time, the latest possible date is preferred. Sometimes, when reports were contradictory, the recorded date of death is actually the date on which it was reported to headquarters. A lot of men appear to have died 'in action' two or three days after their unit was involved in a battle.
A surprising number of the men named on the memorial died of natural causes. Most of these survived the fighting but died during the Spanish influenza epidemic which struck during 1918 and 1919.
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg. For news of updates follow @BridgnorthHeros on Twitter.