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The Great War came to life today (Friday, July, 17) for children at Aldermaston Primary School when they hand-wrote the names of local men you died in the Great War to be used in a ‘Centenary plaque’, commissioned by AWE.
With the help of David Whithorn an AWE Historian and Great War aficionado the children learned about what it would have been like for soldiers of that era, before hand-writing the names of 44 local men.
Dressed in a Royal Berkshire Regiment dress uniform from the period, David brought history to life for the year 6 pupils who took part in the special task.
Thanks to the efforts of the children, the 44 hand-written names will be digitised and engraved on a metal plaque that will be presented to the village of Aldermaston by AWE in September.
Computerised records have allowed the addition of a significant number of new names alongside those from existing memorials, including several sets of brothers. A ceremony to commemorate the centenary of the Great War and to present the children’s plaque to the village of Aldermaston will be held on 25 September 2015 at St Mary’s Church.
Rhodri Bowen, Aldermaston PS Headteacher said: "100 years ago seems like a long time ago to our 11 year old children. It's great when the history of events and people are brought to life with the enthusiasm and knowledge of someone like David, along with his fascinating range of artefacts. At Aldermaston CE Primary we want children to respect those that gave their lives for us, and to learn lessons from history as they grow up and become history makers themselves. Thank you to David and AWE for making this possible."
The 25 September 2015 marks the centenary of the first day of the Battle of Loos, where several Aldermaston and Wasing soldiers died.
Research by AWE has shown that a significant proportion of Aldermaston village men joined the 8th Royal Berkshire at the outbreak of war. They were sent to France in August 1915 to be placed in the elite 1st Brigade, 1st Division. After only days in the line, they attacked the enemy at Loos alongside their more experienced comrades. They acquitted themselves well capturing three lines of trenches before being forced back.
During the battle, the 8th Royal Berkshire lost 250 men killed and approximately three times this wounded – effectively the whole battalion – and the Somme had yet to be fought. The effect of these losses on such small villages can hardly be imagined today.
With the help of the children of Aldermaston the artwork and design of the ‘Centenary Plaque’ has been chosen to both harmonise with the existing historic beauty of St Mary’s church and reflect the price paid by the village in the Great War.