182 men in Summerstown, Wandsworth, made the ultimate sacrifice in World War One, and their names are all recorded on the 1914-18 War Memorial in St Mary’s Church on Wimbledon Road. Some years ago a partnership was forged between two local men, aiming to discover and collect the stories of all 182 local heroes, and additionally to pinpoint the houses of each one of them so that residents of the area, along with the men’s decendants, would be able to walk round them all and remember the sacrifice the soldiers had made to protect their community.
The project launched last year after the vicar of St Mary’s, Reverend Dr Roger Ryan, made an appeal via the Wandsworth Guardian to try to trace the family of a Private William Clay, immortalised on the memorial. He became interested after a tribute to the soldier was left on his doorstep, and had wanted to contact the brave young man’s decendents ahead of Remembrance Sunday. Graphic designer Geoff Simmons got in touch with an offer of help, and the rest is history.
Forces War Records had a stand at the Who Do You Think You Are Live in London last year, and when Geoff came to us with news of his worthy project, we jumped at the chance to help: