The idea of visiting as many Queensbury men as possible, photographing their graves or memorials and paying our respects came during our first trip to the battlefields back in 2013, please read touring for more details on how this came about.
For this first trip I had photographed the war memorial in the village centre then used the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) search function to see if any were buried near to the areas in which we were visiting.
It was obvious during this first search that identifying some of the men named was going to be difficult. The CWGC records in many cases do show family details including address, although many more do not, also whilst carrying out searches of their records several men who were not named on the war memorial were identified.
With photographs from our first trip the natural progression was to find a little more about these men, to do this a subscription was taken out for Ancestry UK. This site holds many military records, so searches were carried out to identify those men that I had struggled with via the CWGC records. Again, during this work many more men with Queensbury links were identified.
Early into the project I received two lists from our village history society. List one was a copy of the memorial in the entrance to Queensbury Parish Church recording all those who served in the Great War, in most cases this included a short address.
The second list was of those named on the war memorial, supplemented by additional names taken from a memorial at the front of the church. The names also had regimental details and a month and year of death. Over time this list became known as the ‘dead list’ and has been of great help.
Armed now with many more names than the original 116 taken from the war memorial, the project of finding all the men became somewhat of an obsession and I perhaps should use this chance now to apologies to my friends for putting up with my endless war talk.
Whilst researching I found that another local resident had been carrying out a similar project of identifying the men and I thank Mike for sharing his work and saving myself a lot of time. Another source of information has come from the Halifax Courier, which thanks to the ‘from weaver to web’ site has every Saturday addition of the paper throughout the war, online to view. Along with obituaries, the paper has many more articles on Queensbury in the war, ranging from recruitment concerts to tribunals.
As a former service man, I was at first only interested in the military side of the life of our men. As I got into the records on Ancestry, I started to become more interested in the social history side and in the write ups of each man I have tried to share military and social information, which I hope appeals to more people.
In 2019 I started to research the World War Two (WW2) names on the cenotaph. This presented a few new challenges as records are not as freely available as World War One (WW1), those who served in the Army causing the most problems. As I worked on the WW2 names and put a request out for help, a few of the relatives of those named came forward and I am grateful for the help they provided. You will see that we have a page dedicated to HMS Vervain, which was adopted by the village during the war, a visit to that page will provide all details. In May 2020 on the 75th anniversary of VE day the WW2 list went live.
The first part of this project took five years of on off research to complete, before going live in November 2018. Some of the men were easy to find with all records readily available, others have taken several years to finally work out who they were and, in a few cases, sadly no identification has been possible. To the best of my knowledge my research is correct, where I have some doubt I tend to use believed to show that I am not fully sure. I accept that mistakes can be made and welcome corrections and additional information. The project is still ongoing, as records come available they are checked for more information and newspaper archives are still been trawled through, in October 2020 I was able to confirm the identify one of our believed men and add his picture.
The village war memorial records the names of 116 WW1 and 51 WW2 men. Through the research carried out, a total of 187 men have now been identified from or linked to the village of Queensbury for WW1 and 56 for WW2. Some of the links are from family connections, such as brother of, and the men themselves may have no other link to the village. I found it difficult to draw a line, as several men on the war memorial share the family link to the village so I have decided that if records mention Queensbury, or a surrounding hamlet such as Ambler Thorn, then they should be included in the project.
If you would like help in tracing a relative who served in the war or additional information including photographs taken on our visits of any of the men remembered here, please contact me.