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Thursday, 01 November 2018 11:23

Looking for answers - The Great War casualties

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St Mark’s Church, Barnet Vale St Mark’s Church, Barnet Vale
St Mark’s Church, Barnet Vale, is launching an appeal to find out more about the families and relatives of the 29 men whose names are commemorated on a First World War plaque about which little is known.

Beside the finely decorated wood panel, just inside the entrance to the church, is a leather-bound roll of honour listing the names, ranks and regiments and the battlefields where the men died.

Each man has a separate page to himself and their military history is written up in pen and ink and a clear script.  

“In this the centenary year of the end of the Great War, we would love to find out more about these men and what their connections were to Barnet,” said church warden John Hay, who is chair of the fabric committee.

“Perhaps there are relatives or descendants who could fill us in with missing details. We don’t know who designed the panel or when it was installed – just some of the questions we would like answers to.”

St Mark’s was opened in 1899, and at the outbreak of the First World War the church had built up a sizeable congregation following the expansion of Barnet Vale and New Barnet.

“In those days there was just a muddy track up to the parish church at the top of Barnet Hill; there was no Meadway until the 1930s.

“But New Barnet was very fashionable and the military ranks of those who are commemorated are an indication of the status of the families who had moved into the area.”

Among those listed is Aubrey Lloyd St Clare Thomson who joined the Public Schools Battalion in August 1914 with the rank of lance corporal. He became a captain in the King’s Liverpool Regiment, was mentioned in despatches and died from his wounds in November 1917.

He was buried in the cemetery at Blockley parish church in Worcestershire.

Another of the five names of those not listed on local war memorials is that of Gordon Minter Frieake, a second lieutenant in the 1st/4th Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, who died at the age of 19 in August 1916 and was buried at the St Sever military cemetery in Rouen.

He had joined the London Fire Brigade in 1914. His parents lived in North Wembley.  Other names being researched include, Mansell Ernest Carey, a second lieutenant in the Royal West Kent Regiment, who died in action at Cambrai in November 1917.

These are they who went out from us to the Great War
and returned not again.

Emmanuel William Setterfield, chief engine room artificer, died when HMS Hogue was torpedoed in September 1914.

William Bearman, of the London Regiment of the Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action on the Somme in July 1916 after serving in Egypt and Gallipoli.

In the middle of the panel are the words, “These are they who went out from us to the Great War and returned not again.”

Mr Hay hopes St Mark’s appeal -- to coincide with Remembrance Sunday services -- will jog some family memories and reveal more about the men’s links to the area.

Susan Skedd, a local historian, is assisting with the project by checking the St Mark’s names against those listed on nearby war memorials.

“Five of the names on St Mark’s panel are not listed on either the Chipping Barnet or New Barnet war memorials, so we have some interesting research to do.

“I saw some of the St Mark’s names appear in the remembrance commemoration at St Albans Cathedral when the names of all those from the St Albans diocese were featured.”

Ms Skedd is hoping to involve pupils at Cromer Road Primary School – the only school in St Mark’s parish – to see if they can help collate information and learn more about the First World War.

The next task is to check census returns for 1911 and electoral registers to see if they shed some light on where these families lived before the Great War.

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