Hadleigh Great War Centenary Project celebrates a year of telling town’s soldiers’ stories

The Hadleigh Great War Centenary project took local Scouts on a trip to First World War battlefields

The Hadleigh Great War Centenary project took local Scouts on a trip to First World War battlefields - Credit: Archant

An initiative charting the lives – and deaths – of First World War soldiers from a Suffolk town more than 100 years on has marked its first anniversary.

The Hadleigh Great War Centenary project is intended to both educate the public about those from the town who gave their lives to protect Britain as well as become a digital archive for researchers in years to come.

So far it has worked with local schools, Scouts and members of the public.

Mark Brennan, chairman of Hadleigh and District Royal British Legion, is running the project.

“It’s been a fantastic year and really successful,” he said. “It’s been much better than I expected.

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“All our research we hoped to get done has been done and a bit more so we are on track.”

Mr Brennan explained there were 112 names of First World War soldiers on Hadleigh’s war memorial and the project was publishing on its website information about each one exactly 100 years to the day since their death.

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One significant date coming up is tomorrow which will be remembered with a special ceremony.

“Our town lost 16 men on that particular day,” Mr Brennan said.

“On August 15 we are going to have a commemoration at our war memorial to remember that event.”

That will be at 7.30pm, with the public welcome to attend, and will also be used to mark Victory over Japan (VJ) Day.

During the project’s first year, it started in August 2014, all four schools in Hadleigh were involved in a remembrance event where they visited the graves of soldiers buried in Hadleigh to learn about their lives.

And a group of Scouts from the town went on a trip to Ypres and the Somme, incorporating sites relevant to the people of Hadleigh.

Mr Brennan added: “The aim is to tell the story of each and every name on the war memorial and we feel this is our last opportunity where people are focusing on the Great War because it is the 100th anniversary.

“What we’re worried about is in around 10, 15, 20 years they will just be names on a wall.

“We want to tell everyone’s story so we bring these names to life to be remembered on the website.”

To find out more about the project and the stories of Hadleigh’s soldiers visit www.hadleighww1.com.

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