About the Project
VIRTUAL MEMORIAL" by Marilyn Stephenson-Knight
welcoming, lovely people. Since we began the Dover War Memorial
Project on Remembrance Sunday 2005, that's how we've found Dovorians, the people of my home town. We've visited hundreds
of homes, spent even
hours chatting on the 'phone, and so overwhelmed our dial-up we
had to go broadband!
What's it all
about? The Project records the histories of all those from our
town who died in the two World Wars of the last century. Some
were forgotten, like Annie Keates. In 1917, aged 52, she was
killed when a bomb blew out the back of her house in Glenfield
Road. Her daughter, Evelyn, 12, died later from her wounds.
They're buried in Charlton cemetery.
Many have no
grave. Over 100 Dovorians in World War I vanished in the mire at
Ypres. Harold Casey, 19, was one, Stephen Palmer, 20, cousin to
the famed Walter Tull, was another. Nearly 200 Dovorians were
lost at sea, like Sidney Raysbrook, 30. In December 1941 his
battlecruiser, HMS Repulse, was attacked by planes and sank off
the coast of Malaya.
They aren't all
on the Town Memorial outside Maison Dieu House. But on the
Virtual Memorial website of the Dover War Memorial Project they
are all remembered with honour and love. The site's at
www.doverwarmemorialproject.org.uk, and is currently
attracting over 150 hits an hour - not only from Dover, but from
Europe, Canada, Australia, the USA and even Japan.
them? Over a thousand Dovorian casualties, with pictures,
anecdotes, extracts from letters, and commemorative verses
chosen by their loved ones are there. Visitors come seeking
their family. Over a dozen have found new relatives, and many
more have learnt something more about them. They come to
remember too. It means a lot. Last Christmas Day one family
distributed laminated copies of the Virtual Memorial about their
dearly-loved lost uncle.
Visitors come to
learn about our past. One 'A' level history student told me that
knowing about the people made her lessons at school more real.
History isn't just something that happens in books.
Many visit to
give and get help. We've advised on rededicating memorials, and
around the UK and overseas we're interacting with researchers,
like the Channel Islands group and Ypres. Dozens of Dovorians
served with Commonwealth troops, like Arthur Igglesden, from
Dover bakery firm, Igglesden and Graves. Born in Australia, he
later became a Lance Corporal in the Canadian Infantry.
Researchers from the former Commonwealth are helping us find out
website, our town and its unique frontline story is seen around
the world. Just as in war-time, this is the best of Dovorians
standing together. Local researchers are overwhelmingly
supportive. Families of casualties unstintingly lend photos,
letters, cards, and medals, in memory of their loved ones. No
one could be more welcoming. We love meeting you!
Memorial website is updated daily, but it still represents only
of the information we have. So do ask - and do join in. If you
have any information about our casualties, please
See too the "How to Help" web page for other ways to be involved
- or just give us a call!
A good thing
about a website is that it has few limits - other than the speed
at which my fingers can type! So we're also recording district
memorials, because casualties can appear on several. Alexander Croockewit is on six, including Shepherdswell. A seventh was
his parents' home. They named their house "Menin"; in 1917 he
died on the Menin Road. Visiting country churches reminds us how
beautiful is our corner of Kent. And, perhaps, what all our
casualties died for.
Most lie now in
foreign fields. The volunteers from the Project's "Dover
Remembers" scheme visit their graves. They bring home
photographs – and leave "In Memoriam" cards. One volunteer was
stunned to discover his own great uncle. Harry Matthews was just
18, and all that's left is his name on the Tyne Cot memorial,
"It's so sad",
said one reader of the website. "Out came the tissues," said
another. They're right – it's heartbreaking to learn about the
lives that were lost, and the families who mourn still. But at
the same time, another reader said, "I hope there is at least
one member of a man's family on the memorial still alive, to
help with photographs and details to form a story to each and
every man that died; it is the least they deserve. We cannot
give as they gave, can we?" And that's the point. We can't.
But what we can
do is ensure that they are remembered forever, with honour,
gratitude, and love. That's what the Dover War Memorial Project
does. We must never forget. The warm hearts of the people of
Dover ensure we never will.
This article first appeared in the Dover Express for 12th
under the title "We must not forget those who died for us"
The introduction to the article states:
Since its inception in September 2005 the Dover War Memorial
Project has gone from strength to strength. Researchers
Maggie Stephenson-Knight and Simon Chambers have visited
hundreds of relative of those killed in the last century's two
world wars to uncover the stories behind the names on the town's
memorial. They have also spent hours in the Express archives and
have set up a website documenting their findings, which received
155,000 hits last month alone. Here Maggie explains just how
influential the project and its website have become.
illustrations that appeared with the published