Researchers aiming to document the lives of all the 1,053 servicemen named on Dewsbury's war memorial

Researchers aiming to document the lives of all the 1,053 servicemen named on Dewsbury's war memorial

WORK charting the lives of Dewsbury’s First World War dead is to go on public display for the first time.

Details will be revealed at a Battle of the Somme commemoration event at Dewsbury Minster on Saturday, July 2, at 11am.

On show will be information gathered about some 400 people listed on the war memorial at Crow Nest Park.

Researchers from the Dewsbury Sacrifice group hope to document the lives of all 1,053 servicemen named on the memorial.

Volunteer genealogist Alan Kaye said: “The town had a population of about 50,000 at the time.

“That included women and children, and so for 1,053 servicemen to give their lives was a huge sacrifice.”

Members began nearly two years ago with Edgar Armitage, the first soldier to  die in the war in 1914, and are proceeding chronologically.

Work covers the social impact, such as crime, tribunals against unwilling conscripts and the role of women, such as the founding of the Wrens.

They are now up to August, 1916, and the lives of those who died at the Battle of the Somme.

Alan’s grandfather, George Kaye, then 19 and of Belvedere Road, Batley, was a Somme survivor.

He was later wounded at the Battle of Passchen-daele and Alan said: “He didn’t know anything about it and woke up in hospital in Lincolnshire. We were very lucky as a family. Seven relatives of mine served in the First World War and they all came back alive.”

Forty-one men from Dewsbury died on the first day of the Somme, July 1, including 19-year-olds Norman Cleveland and Albert Gibbs. Their names are inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial in France, along with 27 of the other 39 first-day victims.

Thiepval records the names of more than 72,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who died at the Somme and have no known grave.

Pupils from Headfield Junior School have made wooden crosses with poppies for each of the 41. These will be planted at the Minster grounds after a service led by Rev Kathy Robertson.

Footage from the era found in the Yorkshire Film Archive will be screened and there is to be a display of work by Batley School of Art students.

Dignitaries due to attend include Mayor of Kirklees Coun Jim Dodds and MP Paula Sherriff.

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