When the chipping Norton branch of the Royal British Legion looked at ways of marking the Centenary of the First World War in 2014 they were keen to take the names carved in stone on the war memorial and bring them alive.
Extensive research was carried out with the assistance of the town museum, resulting in an archive of material on the men of the town who died in the war.
This included where they were born and lived, their families and occupations, where they served and died and in many cases, photographs. These stories were placed on the town website www.chippingnortonbritishlegion.com and led to further exchanges of information with relatives and researchers.
The stories of these men have formed the basis of the commemorations of the First World War from a special event of music, poetry and stories featuring the late actor Robert Hardy in 2014 and in services marking Jutland, The Somme Offensive and Third Ypres. They have been particularly valuable when talking to the town’s school children.
In conjunction with the Town Council the Legion have now also decided to install “Poppy Plaques” on the buildings where the fallen of the town were born or lived before the war. Of the 101 names on the war memorial 28 properties were found to be still in existence. Letters were sent to all the householders and to date 20 have agreed to have a plaque on their property, including 4 double plaques marking where brothers who both died resided.
Each householder has be given a framed certificate with their man’s story included.
In addition to this, a plaque remembering all the men, women and children of the town who suffered because of the First World War has been placed outside our headquarters, The Crown & Cushion Hotel.
The plaques will also form part of the children’s Remembrance service in November and the group are also looking at producing a WW1 trail leaflet, for visitors to follow.