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Residents of Boxley can learn their about their community's involvement in the First World War

By Alan Smith

This Monday, communities across the country will be marking the centenary of the start of the First World War.

Boxley will be among them.

Visitors to Boxley St Mary and All Saints Church will be able to view an exhibition of the village’s links to the Great War and learn something of those who lost their lives in the conflict and also of those left behind.

Boxley resident Albert Baker of the Royal Horse Artillery was killed at Ypres in 1917, leaving a wife and two children in the village.

The exhibition represents just a small part of a year’s research for the Boxley Project, carried out by Sandling resident Tracey Winter-Biggs.

She said: “I started with just the initials and surnames on the Boxley Parish War Memorial, but I quickly discovered that many of the lives were interlinked.

“So it seemed wrong not to extend my research to cover all the men and women who volunteered that I could possibly find.

“So for some time now I have been researching not just people from Boxley village, but from the neighbouring communities at Aylesford, Sandling, Vinters, Gidds Pond and Ware.”

She was given copies of the Boxley parish magazine covering the period 1914-1916, where many of the men were mentioned, and she has now been in contact with more than 200 volunteers who have contributed their family's histories.

Albert Baker's wedding to Florence Eaton in 1908

She said: “I have been in touch with families across the globe who have given me permission to use photos of their loved ones and who have helped build profiles for many of those involved.

“This project is by no means finished. Hopefully more people will get in touch to fill in the gaps, especially for 1917-1918.

The findings of the Boxley Project have been added to the Imperial War Museum’s commemorative website: www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org

Meanwhile, visitors can call in the church in The Street, Boxley, between 10.30am and 2.30pm on Monday, to view the exhibition. Additionally there will tea and cakes available, and a bring-and-buy table, raising funds for the church and for Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a charity that supports the families of servicemen killed or injured on duty.

Anyone who can help Mrs Winter-Biggs further her research should email her on boxley.wartime@yahoo.co.uk

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