Since mid-August a number of silhouettes have been appearing in Great Chesterford and Little Chesterford to commemorate the young men from our villages who died in the First World War. This activity is part of a nationwide commemoration for the Fallen, very much as the Tower of London installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red marked the beginning of that War.
There are 21 names on the Great Chesterford War Memorial and 9 names on a plaque in St Mary’s Church. Men from the Chesterfords served in many of the significant actions of the War: Jutland, Gallipoli, the Somme, the Grand Offensive, and some actions (such as Nery) which, although relatively small scale, were pivotal to the progress of the War. Some died within days of the war starting, some within days of the Armistice, some died of wounds after the war. For every death there will have been additional casualties with life-changing injuries to body and mind. And there will have been the effect on those at home who also served by standing and waiting, dreading the arrival of a Telegram, ‘Deeply regret… … Army Council expresses sympathy’.
And we cannot forget that there were 2 sides (and more) to this conflict and suffering was equally great everywhere.
Backed by the Parish Councils of both villages a small team has been arranging for symbolic representatives of these young men to revisit the villages that they knew. Where possible the silhouettes are appearing at pertinent places and times, and each silhouette has a brief biography. Summaries of the lives and deaths are being researched and circulated by email and social media. In Great Chesterford, there is a wealth of information researched by the Local History and Archaeological Society and published in a pamphlet by Peter Oldham. Copies are available from the Editor of the Broadsheet. Ultimately, information collected will be added to other national archives such as ‘Lives of the First World War’ for permanent record by the Imperial War Museum.
Below are the biographies of the men from Great and Little Chesterford, who gave their lives in that terrible war.