WWI heroes will not be forgotten

Joan Morison with some of the exhibits which will go on show.
Joan Morison with some of the exhibits which will go on show.

They may have died in foreign fields, but a local history group is determined to honour the memory of local war heroes on the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Knott End Family History Society has been busy preparing an exhibition which will open at Knott End Library on August 4.

The work has been spearheaded by Joan Morrison, of Preesall, and she explained how the project had grown and grown.

“One of our members started doing the names on the Preesall memorial at The Mount. There were about 21 names on it and I said it would be nice if we had commemorated them and had an exhibition. All of a sudden it grew...”

Suddenly it was no longer just Preesall and Knott End they were talking about – but surrounding villages and hamlets, too.

It has been a poignant experience for Mrs Morison, who notes with sadness how some of those listed as war dead actually died after the armistice, managing to get home, but then dying from their wounds.

Others are listed on the Menin Gate, near Ypres, with “no known grave” and the remains of one local soldier were found 15 years later, identified by his watch and ring. He was laid to rest in Canada.

A lot of the information has been sourced from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and this has been copied into an informative and special roll of honour, which will form the centrepiece of the exhibition.

There are now 62 names on the board.

Some of those names appear on more than one local memorial, with 26 on the Stalmine one, 25 on that at St Oswald’s, Preesall, 21 at The Mount, 12 at Pilling, 11 at Out Rawcliffe and six at Hambleton.

Mrs Morrison said: “Roy Peaker has done research for all these people and we should be indebted to him for getting all this information.”

In turn Brian Chesworth has photographed the local war memorial and other members are helping too.

Just reading the names of the fallen spells out clearly the toll the war took on small villages across this part of Wyre.

For example Sgt W. Cross of Sunnyside Terrace, Preesall, died on November 12, 1918, aged 27 and was buried in Preesall Cemetery.

A Private H. Curwen, of Ashlea Cottage, Hambleton, died in 1918 aged 28 and was buried in the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery.

Meanwhile, a Private George Danson, of Stalmine, is remembered aged 22 on the Basra Memorial.

Mrs Morrison said: “I thought we should commemorate it. My father was in the war. They say that Iraq was wrong, but this was even more wrong. They didn’t need to do this.”

Older local residents may remember when Mrs Morrison ran the fabric shop in Thomas’s Weind in the 1970s and 80s.

The organisers are hoping to collect still more information and memorabilia and photographs about those from this corner of Lancashire who sacrificed so much.

They promise that any photographs and memorabilia loaned will be copied and returned as soon as possible. If you have any information to share you can contact Mrs Morrison on 01253 813029.

As for a title for the exhibition it’s not yet been decided, but Mrs Morrison has her own favourite “‘We will never forget them’ – that puts it into modern day speak,” she says.

l The group meets on the first Monday of the month at the library, except bank holiday Monday when it meets a week later, and new members are always welcome.