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Service of Commemoration for the WW1 War Memorial Men

On Sunday October 28th 2018 we held a service in St Luke's Church, Upper Broughton to celebrate the lives of the eight men on the War Memorial who died in WW1. And also to commemorate the centenary of the end of the war. This address was given at the service.

In 1920 the Bishop of Southwell came to Upper Broughton to bless the War Memorial and at every Armistice Day since then the eight names have been read out. For most of us they are simply names. Some we recognise, some we don't. It has been the most fascinating exercise to learn more about them. And whilst we have discovered much, it has brought up many more questions. Only last Monday did we discover why Frank Woolley is even on our War Memorial? His parents lived in Cotgrave, his army papers said Cotgrave and he is also remembered on the Cotgrave War Memorial. But Frank was one of six childrenand he was despatched to Upper Broughton to live with his mother's sister, the famous Auntie Annie, whose cottage next door to the village hall became an open house for all village children.

For all the answers that have come to light, many questions still remain. John Keys was the first of our men to die, it transpires that six generations of the Keys family have lived some part of their life in Upper Broughton, starting with another John Keys, born in Limerick in 1787 and who fought in the Peninsular Wars. Why did he choose to come and live in Upper Broughton? Our War Memorial John Keys was an electrician at the Picture Palace in Queens Road in Nottingham, a building that is still there. Members of his family have been out to France and stood on the very spot where he was killed above High Wood, which must have been a very emotional journey.

The Brooks family had eight children: 4 boys and 4 girls and the youngest three boys were conscripted. Prior to the war they worked in the family business: selling and transporting coal, cereals and animal feed. In October 1917, only one month after he was called up William James Brooks was killed in action. He left a wife and two young children. That winter both Leonard Morton Brooks and his younger brother Samuel who were both skilled ploughmen were brought back from the front to plough fields locally as there was a huge shortage of people with those skills. They returned to France in the spring and in July 1918 Leonard was killed. His mother had now lost two sons and then received news that her third son was missing presumed dead, but he had a very lucky escape and returned home. All this took a dreadful toll on her health. Her grave lies close to the path running alongside the Churchyard, Julia Brooks never recovered from losing twosons and died of a broken heart in 1920.

In May 1919 a flagpole was erected at the cricket club to commemorate the local players who had died. These included William and Leonard Brooks and also Frank Ecob. Frank was described as one of the most promising cricketers that the village had ever produced. He was one of 12 children, his father was a boot and shoe maker and Frank worked in a local ironstone quarry. Many of you may remember his nephew, named after him, who livedin the village in more recent times. Frank Ecob had served less than three weeks in France when he died. When Frank Woolley was killed, less than three weeks before Armistice Day he had served 3 years and 344 days. The centenary of his death was on October 23rd.

Sydney Payne was the son of the Stationmaster here in Upper Broughton and having started off his working life at Upper Broughton Station as an Assistant Porter, he made several moves within the Midland Railway Company before becoming a Porter at Skipton Station. His father, as well as carrying out his Stationmaster duties also relayed telegrams round the village and so he was the first person to receive the news of his son's death.

Harry Hourd is the youngest of the men on the memorial. Both his father and his mother had already died and Harry was working in London as a footman to a famous actress. He died aged 19 and his grave is in the beautiful Five Points Cemetery in the Somme, a tiny graveyard only accessible on foot. What happened to Harry’s sisters? We have no idea. But we do know about Ralph Marson, whose family lived in Greenhill Cottage on Top Green. Ralph also has the distinction of appearing on two War Memorials, both here and in Sutton Bonington where he was a gardener for the local doctor. His family still have many of his possessions, including a wonderful polyphon music machine that Ralph brought home on leave. In September 1918, only weeks before the end of the war, Ralph had been home on leave and his family tried unsuccessfully to persuade him to stay at home as he was ill. Ralph insisted on returning to France and died of pneumonia.

Our men were not fighter pilots or high ranking officers. They were what most soldiers were in WW1, normal men who were called to serve their country. Some of them may never have travelled far from this village before being called up. We don’t know the names of the men who came back from the war, only the ones who never returned, those whose names are on the War Memorial and who we remember every year.

To see the individual stories of all the men on the War Memorial click here.

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