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Posts Tagged ‘Department for International Trade’

This week at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (Monday 11 November), colleagues from across the Department for International Trade (DIT) came together once again to give thanks to those former Civil Service colleagues who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

This year as well as being joined by both our Permanent Secretaries – Antonia Romeo and Crawford Faulkner – we were also honoured for the wreath on behalf of families to be laid by David Hertz, great nephew of Abraham Hertz (1895 – 1917). Other wreaths were laid by Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Nigel Maddox (laying the wreath in memory of those with no known grave), Captain James Coates, an army reservist (laying the wreath in memory of fallen colleagues), Ashley Manton (laying the wreath in memory of Retired Service Personnel), Riccardo Belgrave (laying the wreath in memory of Black, Asian and Caribbean service personnel) and Edwina Osborne (laying the wreath on behalf of the War Memorial Research Group and Jill Knight, author of the book “All Bloody Gentlemen” about the Civil Service Rifles regiment).

Additionally, for the second year running, we were also delighted to welcome the Civil Service Choir who movingly sang the “Long Day Closes”.

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Wreath layers at DIT’s annual Remembrance Commemoration 2019

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After the ceremony, a charity bake sale was held in aid of the Royal British Legion, which raised an impressive £364.57. The Royal British Legion, which was founded in 1921, is a national charity which provides financial, social and emotional support to members and veterans of the British Armed Forces, their families and dependants and the money raised will go to help their much needed work.

BoTwarmemorialimageAs previously, the annual Remembrance commemoration was organised by the department’s War Memorial Research Group, which is a very small group of about five colleagues. Whilst the visible focus of the group’s year is organising the department’s annual Remembrance Commemoration, behind the scenes there is much more that happens outside this annual event – in particular ongoing historical and family research. 

Why does DIT’s War Memorial Research Group and many other similar amateur historians and groups do what they do in researching the past? Isn’t all that it is possible to know about World War One and other conflicts already known?

We are motivated to put a spotlight on the stories of each individual because each person’s story is fascinating and unique – and we are the storytellers of the tribe. Through telling each man’s story we are not just dwelling on the past but connecting to the future and respecting the lives of all who died regardless of nationality on both sides.

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Storytellers of the tribe

The World War One Centenary might have ended, but 101 years on, the work of this group and others continues to uncover fascinating stories about the war and the individuals involved. Many other historians and groups continue to research this era – like Summerstown 182 group, Men of Worth group , Mart Lambo (Beat 2 Battlefield Historian), HMS Vanguard group who are searching for photos of over 800 HMS Vanguard sailors killed in 1917 explosion.

A huge part of the group’s ongoing work is to try and tell the stories and identify photos (#morethanjustaname project) of the men, where possible. We were therefore delighted to track down 100 photos in conjunction with 100 years since the Armistice in November 2018. Since then we’ve been blessed to locate even more photos – and so far have found 120 photos which is outstanding given that retaining family photos is not always guaranteed through the passage of time.

We are still keen to reach out to connect with a number of relatives of the men – read this Facebook blog post – so if you are related to any of the men please get in touch with the group via war.memorial@trade.gov.uk

We can’t tell each story without a bit of help and that’s where the families and descendants of the men come in. Over the past year we have been blessed to be in touch online or to even meet several relatives face to face. It is an absolute honour and delight to be in touch with each one and to hear their stories and maintain the connections between the department, the Civil Service and the families. This year, as well as the great nephew of Abraham Hertz being able to join us, we were also joined by the great nephew of Richard William Buttle. Many thanks to them both for taking the time to join us. 

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Images of the Board of Trade War Memorial men (120 of 305 men identified)

The group is also starting on researching former colleagues who might have served in WW2. This is a huge challenge for the group since there are no surviving staff records.

One of our group and an inspiration to those who follow him was Alan Humphries, the former webmaster for the Board of Trade War Memorial, who sadly passed away in a few days ago in early November 2019.

Alan undertook a great deal of the research into the 305 men commemorated on the memorial and brought many of their stories back to life

Last year, for example, Alan lent us some of his collection of artefacts for the accompanying exhibition to our Great War centenary ceremony.

Alan was also instrumental in making the case for a Commonwealth War Grave over 10 years ago to recognise the sacrifice of Lawson Akhurst Smith who died in London on 13 May 1918 and is buried in Orpington, Kent. Lawson Akhurst Smith suffered from mental health issues and tragically committed suicide. The story of Lawson’s life shows the changing attitudes to mental health in the UK. Alan participated in the group’s work until very recently. Only a few weeks ago, he shared our collective excitement at finally tracking down a photo of Lawson Akhurst Smith (thanks to hearing from a relative now living in the United States). 

At this year’s Board of Trade wreath laying ceremony, at our offices in Whitehall, Alan was very much in our thoughts as coming back for the commemoration each year was always very important to him.

In the words of the memorial scroll in honour of Sergeant Abraham Hertz (who died aged just 21 years of age), “LET THOSE WHO COME AFTER SEE TO IT THAT HIS NAME BE NOT FORGOTTEN”.

Thank you to everyone who has helped the group, past, present and future.

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If you are inspired to do your own historical research, check out the links to trace your World War 1 family history. The War Memorial Research Group are always pleased to hear from others with a shared interest in the War Memorial whether based in the UK or overseas. You can get in touch with the group via war.memorial@trade.gov.uk

Board of Trade War Memorial Research Group
15 November 2019

 

 

 

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