It is now over five years since we embarked on the project of researching the names on the Dewsbury Cenotaph in Crow Nest Park.
We could not have achieved this goal without the help and commitment of a small but dedicated group of researchers who have given up hundreds if not thousands of hours of their time trawling through old newspaper archives and various genealogy websites, some of which have only been accessible in the last year or so.
Of the 1053 names on the Memorial, our research has found that seven names were duplicated, some due to errors in the spelling of their names. A further five names could not be matched to any casualty records, nor could any trace of births with those names. Surprisingly, another of the names, Isaac Brook, did not die until 1973!
We are particularly proud that seven men who died post-discharge and were not initially commemorated as war casualties by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have now been added to the records after we were able to prove that their deaths were attributable to war service. Two more names are currently pending approval.
We have tried wherever possible to find photographs of the men, mainly from newspapers but we are grateful to families who have sent us copies from their family collections.
Another objective was to include on the profiles a photograph of their headstone or their name on a memorial to the missing. With the exception of those buried or commemorated in Iraq, we have managed to obtain these from a number of contacts throughout the world and the work of our own volunteers who have visited the war cemeteries and memorials.
It is imperative that the memory of those who paid the supreme sacrifice will not be forgotten and that future generations will continue to pay homage in the words chosen by Rudyard Kipling from Ecclesiasticus 44:14 “Their Name Liveth for Evermore”.
If anyone has any further information they would like to share with us or would like to know more about these men, please use our contact form.
Commemorated on the panels surrounding the Memorial are the names of the men of the Borough and also those who had family connections.
There are six panels around the sides of the Memorial each containing three panels with space for sixty names on each panel plus an addenda. The Memorial is of almost unique design as it is a Cenotaph (meaning empty place) to remind us of the missing. It was unveiled on the 6th September 1924 by Lieutenant General Walter P. Braithwaite, who himself lost his only son on the First Day of the Battle of the Somme.
Dewsbury produced two men who were awarded the Victoria Cross
- Serjeant John William Ormsby
- Private Horace Waller
Dewsbury was known as ‘The Shoddy Capital of The World’ and the Heavy Woollen District contributed in no small measure to the munitions industries which were so vital to our national survival. Through the provision of uniforms and blankets, local trade expanded almost beyond recognition and involved the employment of thousands of Women who also served as bus conductresses, shop workers, farm hands and many other trades which had been previously barred to them.
Further details concerning the men represented on the panels are to be found in the Dewsbury Roll of Honour, a leather bound volume with a cover inlaid in gold leaf, which was commissioned by the then County Borough Council.
In August 1923 the public were requested to submit the names for the Roll of Honour to the Town Clerk. As can be seen on the rolling screen below, some had extensive details of the casualty and others simply a name. There were a number of discrepancies on the date of death, Regiment or arm of service. The addresses given were not always the last address where the casualty had lived, as many families had moved to other parts of the Borough and even further afield in some cases.
It is our intention to produce an updated version of the Roll of Honour, using the same font and format as the original in the hope that the two can be kept alongside each other in Dewsbury Central Library. We would ensure that this revision will available online on this and possibly other websites. Hopefully this will be available in a few month’s time.