A First World War study group from a Chester church have shared some of the material they have uncovered during a project they have been working on for two years.
St Werburgh’s Great War Study Group held a soirée at Chester History and Heritage Centre, which was attended by the Sheriff of Chester Alex Black and his Lady and representatives of the military, university and local history societies.
Central to the display were copies of their newly published book We Shall Remember Them, which contains the biographies of more than 100 men of the parish who gave their lives during the Great War. The biographies give a vivid picture of what life was like in Chester before, during and even after WW1.
Static displays of A War-Torn Parish showed examples of the wealth of material uncovered about Belgian refugees, Australian Munitions workers and others who came to Chester during the course of the war. Their stories were often poignant, none more so than that of Constant Wauters, a wounded Belgian soldier who was nursed here in Chester but who sadly died. He was buried in Overleigh Cemetery with full military honours. Amongst the large wreaths from official bodies, which were laid on his coffin, was a small wreath of violets sent from his wife, back in Belgium.
Constant’s story was broadcast by Radio Merseyside on Armistice Day 2015.
During the evening, vignettes of life in Chester during this period, covering education, St Patrick’s Eve concerts and life after the war, were presented by members of the group.
Another highlight of the evening was a newly-choreographed Irish jig, danced by Emily and Eliza Neale of Chester.
The attendees were thus reminded of the concert which would have been taking place at Chester Music Hall Theatre in Northgate Street (now Superdrug), exactly 100 years ago, in the middle of the war. In the following years the war increasingly took its toll of the people of Chester and performances such as this came to an end.
The work of the study group still goes on. They hope to publish a book about the parish during the Great War and to place a permanent memorial book and plaque to the fallen men, within St Werburgh’s Church.
To obtain a copy of the book We Shall Remember Them contact email@example.com or telephone 01244 311374.