Earlier this year I bought a book about the men who died in World War 1 and who are commemorated on the War Memorial in Wolstanton. I was quite interested to learn that three of the names on the Memorial are those of our Scouts who died in WW1 and that there is memorial to one of them in the Churchyard and
one is actually buried there! Reginald Showan is on the War Memorial and on a Memorial in the Church, Joseph Furnival is on the War Memorial, on a Memorial in the Church and has a Memorial in the churchyard and Tom Lewis is on the War Memorial and is buried in the Churchyard. See update below.
The War Memorial and the Memorial in Church
Joseph Furnival’s Memorial and Tom Lewis’s grave
Having found this out, I decided to look a bit deeper into the men commemorated on our Memorial. Over the last few months as time, job, children etc. allowed, I found out a lot about them, including family information, army records (for some of them), newspaper cuttings and photos of their graves (if they have one). It is my intention to publish all the info on each man on our History site in due course (time permitting!).
On the 11th November I was looking at our local newspaper at and there was a section for remembering those who had been killed in wars. One caught my eye as it was from the niece of Reginald Showan. I asked the paper to pass my details on to her and to ask her to get in touch with me. She did and I went round to see her as she lived locally. She did not know he was a Scout or that there was a memorial to him and his fellow Scouts, nor that his family had paid for a candlestick in memory of him in our Church.
He has no known grave because she told me he was ‘blown to bits’. Very sad.
She gave me an interesting photo though.
This shows him with his mother and brother Ian Malcolm ‘Mac’ on or around the time he joined up in September 1914. The very interesting thing is that his brother is in Scout uniform and is more than likely a Porthill Scout. So this is now the earliest photo of one of our Scouts we have!
Being a glutton for punishment, I’d also decided to try to find out some information on the list of 34 Scouts we have from 1908 (see here). Again, some I’ve found out lots about, some nothing at all and some just a slight bit of information.
The ones I’ve got information on show that their stories are very varied. One died in 1913 and another emigrated to Winnipeg in Canada, fought in France in WW1, returned to Canada and ended up living in Chicago!
But there is one that is interesting and leaves me with a ‘problem’. One of the Scouts on the 1908 list is a J H Strange. It didn’t occur to me at first that he was living at the same address as our first Scoutmaster, William Hockett. After some digging, I found that William Hockett was his step father.
James Harold Strange wasn’t a Scout for very long however, as he joined the Grenadier Guards at Lichfield as a boy soldier on 18/12/1908 aged 14. He became a drummer in the 2nd Battalion Grenadier Guards, attaining adult service on 14/08/1912, and ceased to be a drummer a year later. His Battalion embarked for France on 12/08/1914 and he was in action from 24/08/1914 during the retreat from Mons until he was killed during the Battle of the Aisne some time between 14-16/09/1914. He has no known grave, but is commemorated by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
And herein lies the ‘problem’. He isn’t commemorated on our memorial. I guess this is because around the time WW1 started, his family moved to Hertfordshire, where his step father was from. I have, however, added him to our memorial page.
I think at some point we will have to add him to our memorial and in the Church’s Book of Remembrance, but how we add him to the Memorial is something to be thought about for the moment. Although, as ‘problems’ go, it’s not a bad one to have.
He will be commemorated by us, as it is the reason I started to look into the lives of these men. To be honest, although we had the Memorial, up until a couple of years ago, we knew nothing about these men. Which considering we have the Memorial to honour their memory, wasn’t really on! Which is why I wanted to find out all I could about them.
I do wonder if any of the others in the list of 1908 Scouts I have were killed in WW1, although I hope not.
Update 02/04/12: After a lot of searching, it appears that the Tom Lewis buried in the Churchyard isn’t ‘ours’. You can read about the correct one on the site here.