Books of Honour
In seeking to thank the community for their continuing support Lancaster Military Heritage Group decided to launch a War Memorial Project which would, as a prime aim, research the short lives of the nearly three thousand men and seven women commemorated on our local war memorials. Biographies were to be compiled for each one and theses bound into Books of Honour for presentation to the local community.
The project commenced at the beginning of 2002. The Group were most grateful to 'Awards for All' North West for their generous grant. Without it, the project would not have got off the ground and it would not have been possible to do justice to those named on our local War Memorials. The Project was also awarded the accolade of the designation 'Queen’s Jubilee Project'.
Using the collated material from the project the Books of Honour contain biographies of nearly three thousand men and women who are commemorated on all the War Memorials in and around the Lancaster and Morecambe area. There are individual books for every Parish and Township within the purview of Lancaster City Council. Each Parish was presented with one copy, and a full set of the books is lodged in Lancaster Central Library and sits on the shelves in the public reference area.
The Research & Sources
As well as compiling the biographies the Books were intended to stimulate research into this aspect of family history and also to provide a “Time Capsule” to retain additional material which the community might provide at any time. Thus the original Books were originally supplied “loose leaf” in suitable open boxes to facilitate additional material; this option later became too expensive. The Books are all available in local Churches or the libraries.
The starting point was a list of names from all the local memorials compiled by Harold Wilkinson of the Lancaster Family History Society. This was followed by extensive use of the Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC) website to download the data they hold for each of the names. We are most grateful, without them the Book would not exist!
Using the CWGC Data Base. For an unusual name, when only one or two are found then the CWGC database often gives detail which establishes a local connection. However one of the difficulties of using the CWGC website with only name and initials is that a multiplicity of records are found; try using J Smith!. Of particular use is the Regiment and Date of Death of the casualty. Thus other sources must be used to home in on the “local man”. Relatives. This was the most rewarding source of the research and resulted in making the pen pictures of those who died “Live again”. A “Flier” was produced to which many relatives and friends responded and much information was obtained in this manner.
The Navy and Army Press. This organisation produced very complete data after the two world wars and their material is available in the Reference Section of our libraries. For each name locations of birth, residence and enlistment are given which further establishes a local connection.
Local Newspapers. The Lancaster Guardian and Morecambe Visitor newspapers of the time, again available in the Reference Libraries, all carried extensive reports on the men who died, particularly for the First World War, together with details of where they lived, worked, played, were educated and often with photographs. The pen pictures began to build up.
Lancaster Town Hall Forms. A facsimile of one of these forms is shown below and was very useful, giving number rank and name, date of death and local addresses.
War Memorials. The ones within churches and Memorial Halls often give Regiments, Date of Death and an example is that in Bolton Le Sands Church.
Census Data. If further corroboration is required then census data on the Internet can help the detective work.
Advertising. The local newspapers and Morrison’s Supermarket in Morecambe, all helped to publicise the project to which relatives of the men who are named on the memorials responded.
Local Cemeteries. A number of casualties were buried locally and this can also help to build up the biographies.
The Internet. Much information is available to the "surfer" and for us, this was very useful in researching the Boer War.
Searching for Information. A guide was produced by Peter Donnelly the Curator of King’s Own Regimental Museum, and we are pleased to present this in Annex A of The Last Post.
During the research, the extent of the "buried treasure" of information within the attics and albums of relatives and friends were made available to us. And what an interesting and detailed source it is. As a result, many of the "pen pictures" turned into very moving essays which are included in this data disc.
Some of the material consisted of Orders of Service and various compilations. These have been included in the Data Disc and chief amongst them are The Street Collection Booklet of Carnforth, The Baldwin Bent Memorial Booklet and Hospital Documents from Heysham and the excellent Booklet describing the King’s Own Regiment Memorial Chapel in the Priory Church, produced by Colonel Cowper (now out of print).
The Books of Honour
The finished Books contain biographies of nearly three thousand men and women who are commemorated on all the War Memorials in and around the Lancaster and Morecambe area. There is one Book only for every Parish and Township within the purview of Lancaster City Council. Separate volumes were prepared of the Newspaper obituaries contained in their reports during the wars, and also of the set of essays written by the relatives. Each was bound by Lancaster University Book Binding facility.
Several presentations were made to Churches or Town/Parish Councils. On each occasion, the Book was presented or received by a relative of someone commemorated on a local Memorial. These took place at Carnforth, Halton, Warton, Heysham, Caton, Morecambe and the URC Church High Street Lancaster. The presentation of the Lancaster Books and those of the remaining parishes took place on 8 May 2005, VE 2005, the Sixtieth Anniversary of the ending of the War In Europe. In all the following Books of Honour have been compiled.
Parishes Receiving Books of Honour
Bolton Le Sands, Borwick, Hest Bank, Over Kellet, Silverdale, Slyne with Hest, and Yealand
Dolphinholme, Hornby, Leck, Melling, Tatham, Tunstall, and Whittington
Abbeystead, Forton, Galgate, Glasson Dock, Overton, Pilling and Scorton