Woman's plea for information on First World War heroes from Poole Keynes

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Woman's plea for information on First World War heroes from Poole Keynes Woman's plea for information on First World War heroes from Poole Keynes

A POOLE Keynes woman is asking for help to put together a tribute to the men from her village who died fighting during the First World War.

After noticing that a plaque in the village church to commemorate the men included only their names, Jenny Cunningham was inspired to put together a file on each soldier.

Jenny believes that the loss of the men from the village during the war was of great significance and the brass plaque inside St Michael and All Angels church in the village does not do them justice.

She is now trying to find out as much information about them as she can and her findings will be logged in the file at the church.

“I always thought that the war was a lot for the local villages to cope with,” she said. “I thought it would be a good idea to do more than just put the names on a plaque.

“I just need a little bit of information from any person. It is amazing how far a little bit of information can take you.

“At the time of the first war, Poole Keynes was a very small village comprised, with the exception of the school, rectory and church, of six farmhouses and their respective tied cottages.

“Of the total population of 140, almost half were aged under 20. Seven men, mostly farm labourers, were killed in the first war – a very heavy toll for such a small community.”

So far Jenny has asked people from the village, the War Graves Commission and the Royal British Legion for help.

Amongst the information she has managed to uncover through her researches, are the army numbers of the fallen men and where they are commemorated or buried.

She has also been in touch with the family of a soldier named on the plaque, Private Cecil Thomas Packer.

They gave her a lot of information on his family history, such as the story of him coming home on army leave in 1916, which describes how Cecil leapt over his garden fence, and swung his wife around in delight at being home.

The soldiers names are Private Francis Davis, Private Frederick David Jerrome, Private Frederick Messenger, Private Cecil Thomas Packer, Private Charles William Selby and Private Charles Woodley.

For more details about the soldiers or if you can help Jenny, call her on 01285 770075.

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