Appeal continues for Melton war memorial upgrade

The grave in France of Melton soldier Thomas Bert Davies, who was killed while fighting in the First World War EMN-150817-095939001
The grave in France of Melton soldier Thomas Bert Davies, who was killed while fighting in the First World War EMN-150817-095939001
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Donations are still coming in for an appeal to upgrade and enhance Melton’s war memorial which honours service personnel killed in action during conflicts over the last century.

Interpretation boards with photographs and biographical information are to be installed in the gardens of Egerton Lodge to sit alongside the existing stone plaques which simply list the names of the fallen.

The Melton Times launched an appeal last winter, in conjunction with the Town Estate, to help pay for the work and almost £3,000 has so far been donated, to go alongside a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £9,800.

John Southerington, a town feoffee, who is co-ordinating the project, said research was continuing to identify the names of hundreds of servicemen who had been missed out on the original memorial plaques, because the authorities had not been informed at the time or the wrong information was given.

He said: “We have 247 names on the memorial from the First World War but there are now another 400 additional names we have come across of people who were born in Melton, lived here or enlisted for service here.

“We are looking into whether these individuals are listed on memorials elsewhere and whether they should be included on the Melton war memorial.

“For example, someone who enlisted at Stathern may have put down Melton Mowbray as their enlisting place, as the nearest large town, on their papers.”

The town’s war memorial has already had ornamental railings installed in front of the plaques as part of the project, with the interpretation boards due to be put in before Christmas after the research has been completed.

One of the names on the boards will be Private Thomas ‘Bert’ Davies, who served with the 1st Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment. He was was just a teenager when he was sent to fight on the Western Front in France.

The son, of Sarah Davies, of 4 Birmingham Row, Melton, and the late Thomas William Davies, Bert, as he was known as, was involved in some of the fiercest fighting of the Great War on The Somme. He was killed there on November 26, 1916, aged just 19, and was buried at the Woburn Abbey Military Cemetery at Cuinchy in France.

His great-niece, Lesley Wilding, nee Davies, was born in Melton and lived at Asfordby and Scalford for many years before settling in the French region of Normandy with husband Neil.

Mrs Wilding said: “My grandparents, when they were alive, showed me his memorial in the Melton memorial gardens.

“However the name on his memorial just says B Davies, presumably because he was known as Bert - I assume this is my great uncle as he is the only Davies on the memorials for the First World War.

“I have visited his grave in France a couple of times and I have looked into his life as part of my research into my family history.”

l To make a donation to our appeal at the Melton Mowbray Building Society in Nottingham Street - quote the account number GGX3326893MEL and make cheques payable to Melton Mowbray Town Estate (War Memorial) appeal if you would like to give some money.

l If you have a photograph and details of a family member killed in the world wars email the pictures and information to nick.rennie@jpress.co.uk or bring it to the Melton Times office in Nottingham Street during normal office hours (9am to 5pm). Contact Nick on (01664) 412523.