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Researchers in campaign to honour all our war dead

A plea for information about people whose names are on war memorials in Luton, Dunstable and the rest of Bedfordshire is being made by volunteers who are compiling a roll of honour in memory of the dead civilians as well as service personnel.

The mammoth task started when Lynda Smith, a member of the Beds Family History Society, was looking at war memorials and became deeply interested in them.

She found some of them were "not in the state they ought to be", because of the effects of the weather and age. Mrs Smith contacted Geoff Sewell, chairman of the society.

Then another of its leading members, Martin Edwards, agreed to be "webmaster" for the project's Internet website.

So far they have found 148 Bedfordshire War Memorials for the dead of World War One and Two. There are also 11 others, commemorating the Boer War and other conflicts.

Mrs Smith and Mr Edwards are determined to put together as many details as they can of the people whose names are on the memorials.

Said Mrs Smith: "We want to record family details, such as the names of the the family of each person on the memorials, and we would like other information about them as well."

She said the basic research involved using the Internet website of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (website address is www.cwgc.org).

The researchers are also looking at the CD "Soldiers died in the First World War", village history books, old postcards, photographs, archives, old newspapers and other sources.

Mrs Smith continued: "We have had relatives of the men and women contact us offering further information and sometimes even photos."

But she admitted: "At present we are only scratching the surface. Some memorials, which were erected 'in perpetuity', have gone missing, or been destroyed. Others were placed in buildings which are no longer used for the purpose they were first intended."

They have not been able to trace the war memorial that was in the old Luton police station in Stuart Street, which was demolished years ago.

The team would also particularly like to have more information about raids by German bombers on Luton during the Second World War.

People can write to Mrs Smith at 16 Stuart Road, Barton, MK45 4NG, or can e-mail her at lynda@rolyntravel.co.uk.

She and Mr Edwards would be grateful for any information or objects connected with people whose names are on Bedfordshire's war memorials.

The website of the Beds Family History Society is www.bfhs.org.uk and the website address of the roll being compiled is www.roll-of-honour.com.

3rd February 2003 - Luton News

Last updated: 3 March, 2009

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