Each year, poppies are laid on war memorials throughout the UK. People pass them every day, but few now spare more than a glance for the long list of names inscribed on them. Yet behind those names lies a story of heroism, of ordinary people called up to do things they would never have dreamed would be their destiny. Where did they live? How and why did they die?
Intrigued, Clive Aslet began to research one such village war memorial. Located in the Dartmoor village of Lydford, it tells of the sacrifices paid by just one village between 1914 and 2003. Twenty two names were researched and now their stories can be told. Charles Barry was one of the first names to go on the memorial. He died while attacking the Thiepval during the Battle of the Somme in August 1916.
The stories go through two world wars, and the Falklands. The deaths still continue – in 2003, eighteen year old Private Andrew Kelly of the Parachute Regiment died while fighting near Basra in Iraq. It shows too the effects of the way society has changed. Even women go to war. Private Sylvia Evalina Bickle was serving in the ATS when she died in 1947. The whole story makes fascinating reading.