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Eighteen extra names added to Burham War Memorial


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The British Empire suffered 1.1m dead during the First World War. The scale of the loss is scarcely imaginable today and affected nearly every town, village and community not only in Kent, but the length and breadth of the British Isles.

To appreciate the extent of the loss, it's perhaps easier to look at it the other way around.

The unveiling of Burham War Memorial in 1921
The unveiling of Burham War Memorial in 1921

After the First World War, there were just 52 communities in England and Wales where everyone who went off to fight came home alive (although not necessarily unscathed). They become known as the Thankful Villages - or in Wales, the Blessed Villages.

In Scotland and Ireland (which was then still part of the United Kingdom) there were none.

It was only natural that people wanted to erect a memorial to act as a focus for their grief and to pay tribute to the fallen, but there was no national memorial campaign other than a temporary wooden cenotaph built in Whitehall in 1919, replaced the following year by the stone structure that still serves today for the national act of remembrance.

In the town and villages, it was left to each community to commission and pay for their own memorial, usually by public subscription, which is why there is such a wealth of different designs and sizes of memorials today and why it took several years in most cases for the memorial to be erected.

The Burham War Memorial on the corner of Rochester Road and Church Road was unveiled in October, 1921.

The Burham War Memorial. Picture Tony Pullen
The Burham War Memorial. Picture Tony Pullen

Like most, it has a list of names of the fallen - 38 from the First World War. (After the Second World War, another eight names were added.)

The 38 died either died on active service during the First World War, or within the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's time-limit for the war's victims.

There are men listed on the memorial who were not native to Burham, but who were residents at the time of their death, as well as men who were natives of Burham, but no longer residents at the time of their death, but still fondly remembered by Burham families.

However, it transpires that there were another 18 casualties whose names were not recorded at all.

Research by former Burham resident Ian Turner, a Kent Regional Volunteer with the Friends of War Memorials, unearthed some, while a memorial plaque to the "Old Boys" displayed at Burham C of E Primary School revealed others.

The re-dedication ceremony involved villagers of all ages. Picture Tony Pullen
The re-dedication ceremony involved villagers of all ages. Picture Tony Pullen

Further information was found in the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Census records, parish registers, and recorded family trees.

Among the new names discovered are two sets of brothers.

James Trodd was a Private in 1st/5th Battalion Notts and Derby (Sherwood Foresters) Regiment. Born in East Malling, he was the son of William and Ann Trodd and for some time was a resident of Hill Top Farm, Blue Bell Hill, Burham.

He died on June 19, 1918, aged 38, and is buried at the Fouquieres Churchyard Extension, Pas de Calais, France.

His younger brother William Trodd was a Private in the 7th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment. Born in New Hythe, he died on July 13, 1916, aged 20.

James and William Trodd
James and William Trodd

His name is among those inscribed on Thiepval Memorial at the Somme in France. His body wasn't recovered.

Curiously, they had a brother Frederick whose death is already recorded on the memorial. There's no explanation as to why one brother was recorded and not the other two.

In fact, there was also a fourth brother, Joseph Trodd, who also served with the Royal West Kents. He survived the war.

John Langford and Wallace Langford were both 2nd Lieutenants in the 18th Battalion King's Royal Rifle Corps, the sons of John and Sarah Maria Langford of Rochester Road, Burham.

Their mother was a schoolmistress at the National Girls School.

Wallace Langford and his brother John. Both died in 1916
Wallace Langford and his brother John. Both died in 1916

John was born in about 1894 in Burham. He died on September 15, 1916, aged 22. He is buried at Bull Road Cemetery, at Flers on the Somme in France.

Wallace Langford was two years younger. He died on June 27, 1916, aged 20. He is buried at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, in France.

The other names missing from the memorial were James Featherstone, George Frewin, Edward Hughes, William Leney, Ernest Marks, Ernest Middleton, F.W. Smith, Albert Stevens, C.W.G. Treadgold, Albert Wildish, Arthur Wildish, George Wildish, William Wisdom and Albert Wood.

Fortunately this story ends happily.

Last month, Burham held a re-dedication service to mark the memorial's centenary.

The procession through the village. Picture Tony Pullen
The procession through the village. Picture Tony Pullen

There was a procession led by a piper, Alex Burt, who was followed by the Mayor of Tonbridge and Malling, Cllr Roger Roud, and by churchmen, veterans and school children.

They paraded through the village to Memorial Field where some 200 villagers waited, including members of the Royal West Kent Re-Enactors, who were dressed in Great War uniforms, formed an honour guard.

A service was held that as far as possible mimicked the one at the original unveiling ceremony 100 years earlier. A bugler played the Last Post and a two-minute silence was observed, after which wreaths were laid.

The Mayor then unveiled two plaques, one to record the re-dedication, and the other adding the 18 missing names.

Afterwards, the village enjoyed some community singing with favourites from both wars.

Wreaths were laid in remembrance. Picture Tony Pullen
Wreaths were laid in remembrance. Picture Tony Pullen

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