War Memorial Centenary Ceremony

Newly Discovered Names Unveiled on Warwick War Memorial Centenary

A ceremony has taken place at the Warwick war memorial in Church Street exactly 100 years to the day since the memorial was first unveiled following the ‘Great War’ on July 10th 1921. And seventy years ago, additional plaques were installed with the names of those who had died in WW2.

The ceremony marked the culmination of Unlocking Warwick’s three-year project initiated by Christine Shaw to find the human stories behind the names on the memorial plaques. 

To mark the centenary of the memorial, two new bronze plates were dedicated by the Mayor of Warwick, Cllr. Richard Edgington, with the names of 14 Warwick men who for various reasons were missing from the original plaques, and discovered by the research team or alerted by relatives responding to a public appeal.

The ceremony was attended by relatives of some of those commemorated on the new plaques, and it brought together some members of the same family who had never met before.

Unlocking Warwick’s research leader, Christine Shaw, said, “During the final stages of WW1, Charles Ward from 56 West Street had been killed at the age of just nineteen, but his name was missing from the memorial. His niece, Barbara Bayliss, alerted us to Charles’s military service and death in 1918, following our appeal for information. Barbara was one of the special guests at the ceremony, as was her sister Pat Martin, and their second cousin, Susan Ward, whom they had never met before. With Pat’s grandchildren, Zaylie and Thomas, and Mavis Ward, Susan’s mother, it was a moving family occasion”.

Barbara Bayliss said, “To see our uncle’s name on the memorial after all these years was so important; we are extremely grateful to the research team and the council. Without your help Charles’ sacrifice might have been forgotten”. Her sister Pat Martin said, “I just wanted to say a big thank you to the volunteers for organising the War Memorial Ceremony, and to say how much we enjoyed it. It’s great to see Uncle Charles’s name on the War Memorial. And it was lovely to meet Susan Ward and her mother. We are going to keep in touch now!”

Belinda Leaver’s uncle, Len Sleep from Wathen Road, had fought in France during WW2, and died of his wounds at Dunkirk in 1940 at the age of twenty. She read out a summary of his life and service.

Also present at the ceremony were Greville and Michael Warwick, whose uncle Ralph Jordan from Hanworth Road had been killed in WW2. He had joined the navy and was working at a training centre on the south coast when it was strafed by a German fighter and Ralph was killed instantly. Greville Warwick said, “It is marvellous to have our uncle recognised on the memorial. I remember him very well. He would take me for rides on the crossbar of his Raleigh bike. Later that bicycle was bequeathed to me and I rode it for many years”.

Christine Shaw, Tricia Scott and Helen Fellows, read out summaries of the lives of the four names from WW1 and the ten names from WW2 that are on the newly installed plaques. The Mayor, Richard Edgington, said, “Finding all these personal stories has been a remarkable project, coming to its conclusion on the centenary of the memorial. I’d like to thank all those members of the public who responded to the appeal for information, and the research team for their efforts over the past three and as half years”.

Christine Shaw, Leader of the Warwick War Memorial Project.

Rick Thompson, Secretary of Unlocking Warwick, said, ““All credit for this fantastic project goes to research leader, Christine Shaw, who initiated the project, and with her colleagues Tricia Scott and Helen Fellows spent many thousands of hours studying military websites, consulting records, and contacting relatives of the Fallen. It was Christine’s energy, enthusiasm and staying power in getting this project up and running and continuing it for over three years that found the missing names and the personal details, and brought the families together for this lovely occasion.

“The new plaques incorporate some names that had been added piecemeal on small plaques over the years, and we have corrected one or two errors. There are now more than 480 names of service people from the relatively small county town of Warwick remembered on our memorial, and the personal stories of each one of them can be found on our special website, as a permanent resource for schools, historians and local families”.

The ceremony ended with the Mayor laying a wreath commemorating the fourteen Warwick men who are newly remembered on the memorial. The wreath carried the simple legend, ‘Not Forgotten’.

The names have now been added to the databases of The Fallen on this website. They are:

WW1: Arthur Henry Gunn, Algernon William Percy, Charles William Ward and John Woodfield.

WW2: Walter Aston, Douglas Burton, Jack Colbourne, Fred Constable, Alfred Green, Percy Hirons, Augustus Jennings, Ralph Jordan, Len Sleep and Jack Smart.