Lives of WW2 servicemen chronicled

AN AMATEUR historian has been inspired by the servicemen who died in the World Wars to compile a detailed history of their lives.Shirley Smith, who works at Sudbury's tourist information centre, hopes her biography on each of the 237 people listed on the town's roll of honour will help keep their memory relevant to a new generation.

AN AMATEUR historian has been inspired by the servicemen who died in the World Wars to compile a detailed history of their lives.

Shirley Smith, who works at Sudbury's tourist information centre, hopes her biography on each of the 237 people listed on the town's roll of honour will help keep their memory relevant to a new generation.

The family historian says she wants to complete the project in Sudbury and nearby Great Cornard so she can present her findings to local residents while those who can still remember WWII are still alive.

“As a teenager I met quite a few veterans from World War One through my late father's branch of The Royal British Legion in London,” said Mrs Smith.


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“The branch used to entertain veterans from WWI and WWII from The Royal Star and Garter Home in Richmond. When I asked about the medals they were wearing, they dismissed them as nothing – 'you don't want to know about that' was their reply.

“It lead me to want to find out more about what they went through and my continued involvement with the Royal British Legion.

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“This project is now coming from the angle of my interest in family history and what their lives were like before and during the war.”

Mrs Smith said she hopes to show the servicemen on the list as ordinary people, with jobs, homes and families.

“In 90 years time the roll of honour will be just a list of names,” she said. “I want to show these were real people who lived in houses, streets and villages all around here.”

Many names now have some detail to them including Reginald Ernest Drury, 34, who was in the Home Guard. He was husband of Mary Drury, from Bures Road, Gt Cornard, and son of George Drury, of School Street, Sudbury.

He was injured at Bures slaughter house by a stray anti-aircraft shell from Colchester on Oct 19 1942.

He died later on the same day at St. Leonard's hospital in Sudbury.

Able Seaman Joseph John Moore was lost at sea off Tobruk in 1941 and has no known grave. His brother Robert James Moore, a Lance Corporal in the 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment, died in a Far East prison camp two years later, aged 26.

“This is just the sort of background I am looking for as it really brings these young men to life as individuals,” she said.

However, many have little or no information connected with them and she is keen for people with relatives who died in the wars to come forward and help her piece together their stories.

The results of Mrs Smith's quest in Sudbury will be handed to the town's archives and in Great Cornard she will give her findings to St Andrew's church were the original hand painted list hangs.

Anyone with any information for Mrs Smith should call 01787 379704.

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