Overstrand remembers its First World War dead at special exhibition

First World War commemorative exhibition at Overstrand parish church. Organiser Tim Bennett looking at the history of William Randell England.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY First World War commemorative exhibition at Overstrand parish church. Organiser Tim Bennett looking at the history of William Randell England. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Sunday, August 10, 2014
8:10 PM

Tasters of authentic “trench cake,” were among the attractions at Overstrand’s First World War exhibition.

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First World War commemorative exhibition at Overstrand parish church. War memorabilia of William Randell England.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYFirst World War commemorative exhibition at Overstrand parish church. War memorabilia of William Randell England. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Baked by Jill Bennett from a wartime recipe, its ingredients included vinegar, ginger, lemon rind, cocoa, and nutmeg.

“It was a little dry-ish but people were quite surprised that it was quite nice. Some even asked for the recipe,” said Mrs Bennet.

Some 400 people visited the exhibition in Overstrand Church, to learn about the village’s 40 war dead, including five buried in the churchyard. One, William Lake, 43, left nine children fatherless.

Tim Bennett, one of the organisers, was delighted that the great, great nephew of one soldier, William England, was among visitors on Saturday.

First World War commemorative exhibition at Overstrand parish church. The grave of Felix Marmaduke Kettle.
Picture: ANTONY KELLYFirst World War commemorative exhibition at Overstrand parish church. The grave of Felix Marmaduke Kettle. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

William’s medals were lent to the exhibition by his niece, Sue Cowling, from Beeston Regis.

Organisers had also printed an aerial map of Overstrand and marked on it, with photos, the homes of the men who died.

Mr Bennett’s researches have also unearthed an intriguing story behind the death of one soldier, William Pegg, who died in 1918 from wounds sustained from a “swooping aircraft” while convalescing at Caythorpe Court, Lincolnshire.

He discovered, after finding the story in the Aberdeen Daily Journal via the British Newspapers Online website, that William was with another officer in a trap, following the Duke of Rutland’s hounds, when the accident happened. Both men were killed.

William was a former pupil of the Belfry School, Overstrand, where Mr Bennet was once head teacher.

In an amazing coincidence, the school’s Oak Class visited Caythorpe Court, now an activities centre, in June.

The church’s commemoration of its lost sons had begun with a service on August 3 at which 150 pocket-sized copies of St John’s gospel were handed out to the congregation. They were exact copies of those given to enlisted soldiers.

“I’ve been moved by the experience of researching all these men,” said Mr Bennett.

“They have become, not just names on a board, but real people.”

■ The exhibition can be viewed again on August 14-16, 10.30am-4pm, In Overstrand Parish Hall, The Londs.

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