Unlocking Warwick’s Christine Shaw wondered why her grandfather’s cousin, Clarence, was not among the names of the local men who were killed in the First World War and commemorated on Warwick War Memorial. Her tenacious research led to more missing names. With the help of the Town Council they are now in their rightful place on the memorial in Church Street.
With the approach of the 100th anniversary of Clarence’s death at the second battle of Passchendaele in October 1917, Christine tells the story of her journey into the past to ensure all of Warwick’s WW1 ‘Fallen’ will be remembered.
Warwick War Memorial and The Missing Names
I have been a member of the Unlocking Warwick group since its inception in 2012 – a friend recommended the group to me as she knew that I had an interest in local and social history.
At around the same time, I set up my family tree on Ancestry.co.uk. I initially concentrated on populating all of the names on my father’s side as I knew they were fairly local to Warwickshire and also have an unusual surname, Capers, which made it easier to track.
Once I had the tree populated back to 1760, I began to wonder about the detail surrounding my more recent relatives. As part of this work, I started to wonder why my Grandfather’s cousin, Clarence Charles Arthur Albert Edward Capers, was not on the main Warwick memorial in Church Street, as I already knew that he had been killed in the first world war. Clarence is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium as well as in St Nicholas Church, so there did not appear to be any reason why his name shouldn’t appear on the town’s main memorial.
I started my research with a visit to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment’s Museum in St John’s Warwick, which is just a stone’s throw from Clarence’s home at 11 Coten End. The team there were incredibly helpful, showing me Clarence’s entry in the South Warwickshire Roll of Honour book as well as providing me with a copy of the war diary for his regiment. We also found a book which was written by Clarence’s commanding officer, Major C A Bill, and this gave a fascinating insight into the lives of Clarence’s battalion up to his death during the second battle of Passchendaele on 26th October, 1917.
Now convinced that Clarence should be remembered, I contacted Derek Maudlin, Warwick’s Town Clerk at the time, who promised that, providing that my research was valid, he would make sure Clarence’s name was added before the 2015 Remembrance service. During this conversation I offered to also look into whether there were any other missing names for WWI, so that they could be included at the same time.
I stood in the wind and rain by the memorial and wrote down all of the names before going home and comparing them to the names in “The County of Warwickshire Roll of Honour.” This threw up several names which I then looked up on the Ancestry website. To round off my research, I made a visit to the County Record Office in Cape Road and was delighted to find the original list of names for those who were to be included in “The Warwick Shrine.” This was quite moving as each slip was submitted by the next of kin of the dead soldier. I started to think that, perhaps, Clarence hadn’t been included because he was “Dead – missing in action” and his parents might have been holding on to the slender chance that he might one day return.
Once all my checking had been done, I had a list of five men, who I considered had been omitted in error.
Luckily, the Town Council agreed and all five names appear on the new plaque, which was added just a week before the 2015 Armistice Service.
The Courier, our local paper, gave front page coverage to the missing men and mentioned each one individually, a fitting tribute, which was thoroughly deserved and long overdue .