I have been researching in a minor way the sixty names on the Christ Church, Gravesend, Memorial stone, which was recently re-discovered, having been interred in the church grounds for the past eighty years, as explained below.
The Windmill Hill biographies were created using various sources from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website through to Pension Records, Census Returns, newspaper reports and obituaries and drawing on Regimental Histories and books on the subject. One aim was to have as many illustrations as possible and even if there is not a portrait, every serviceman who fell in France or Belgium has an image of their headstone or name on a Memorial included. This required several well organised trips to France and Belgium to cover the many soldiers commemorated there. The students benefitted from help by staff and from many local historians as well as relatives of the casualties. Sponsorship was provided from Gravesham Council which paid for the first book and from the Heritage Lottery which paid for the following two volumes. The three books cover 565 names – each volume comprising over 400 pages, A4, softback and heavily illustrated. Books retail at £25 each to include postage from the school.
The school is widely recognised for its expertise in this area and is regularly chosen to represent English students at commemoration events. There is an all night vigil at Westminster Abbey, in the presence of the Queen, on the evening before 1st July. Members of the school are giving several of the readings at the vigil, whilst others will form the Guard of Honour at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior during part of the night. In addition students and staff at St John's have organised and are taking part in a Charity Cycle Challenge from Gravesend to Ypres and back beginning on 2nd July.
This is not a Society that rests on its laurels and now the Windmill Hill Memorial set of volumes is completed, the students are focusing on the many other memorials in the Borough starting with those in the Swanscombe area.
There is an accompanying website and the progress and work may be followed here – www.gravesend14-18.co.uk.
I have been researching the names, greatly aided by the arrival of the St John's research books, partially so that we can trace any descendants of relatives. You will find further information about the memorial, together with a list of the names, along with the results of my research so far here.