war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper


The "We Remember" Booklet 2006



Alan Taylor, by Simon ChambersAt the Remembrance service at the Cenotaph in London every year they say, “Their name will live for ever”. When you go across the channel and see all the graves of those lost in the wars you know why. They will always be there. Cemetery upon cemetery, row upon row, it is almost impossible to believe how many. Every one is a mother’s son, and beneath every headstone lies a story.  

Forget-Me-Not War Graves began five years ago. Now there are four of us – Will Hinton, Brian Dixon, Paul Catlow, and I – who go two or three times a month to the cemeteries. We take across relatives of J H Green grave, courtesy Brian Dixonthose who died so they may visit the graves. For those who cannot go we take wreaths and crosses and lay them on their behalf, sending back a photograph.

People came from all over the world to fight for Europe, and we remember them all. We have had e-mails from China and India, and once we helped a Maori prince find the burial place of his great-grandfather. Some of the cemeteries are very small – one has just seven burials - and some are hidden away, with many never visited by the guided tours. We visit all the forgotten boys.  If any work needs doing we report it back so all may rest with dignity. 

Some are yet to be buried. Once we found in a newly-turned field a bit of red cardboard on a string, with a name printed on it. We contacted a Belgian group licensed to excavate battlefields. They discovered a body, and later we were invited to attend the committal of Private Harry Wilkinson, from the Lancashire Fusiliers. He died in 1915, and five generations of his family, including his great granddaughter, were there. So too was HRH The Duke of Kent, Colonel in Chief of the Royal Fusiliers and President of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. We return to Harry’s grave often to spend a few moments remembering him.  

That is what it is about. We fund the trips ourselves, and as long as we can we will visit and help relatives to visit those who died fighting for their country. It’s our way of giving something back to those who gave their all. It is our way of saying, “Thank you”.                                             

 Cabinet Rouge cemetery, courtesy Brian Dixon

Alan Taylor

Grave of A/3190 Lance Cpl J H Green MM, King's Royal Rifle Corps, died 23rd August 1917, courtesy Brian Dixon
Cabaret Rouge cemetery, courtesy Brian Dixon

Copyright 2006-11 © Marilyn Stephenson-Knight. All Rights Reserved