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FINDING THE FALLEN
It started as an interest and grew into an odyssey
In 1998 with the internet in its infancy, and with a newly delivered computer, we – my husband and I, stumbled across a recently created website for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (www.cwgc.org). With a mutual interest in both World Wars but with very little knowledge of the men of our village who fought and died, we decided to put the website and our new pc to the test.
After scribbling down the sparse details of the First World War from Brimington Memorial gates, we naively expected it to be easy to find the village soldiers. It soon became clear however that the task would be monumental. The sheer volume of the British war dead defies belief, and the lack of information on the memorial gates - just an initial and a surname, some spelt incorrectly - made searching painfully slow and laborious but it began a decade of obsessive dedication of finding the Brimington men. Every spare moment we had was spent researching, - few genealogy websites existed in the early days and what were accessible cost a fortune to search - so it was a difficult process checking archives, war records, newspapers, contacting Great War study groups, various regiments and the WFA (www.westernfrontassociation.com ) who were so helpful and we owe them a lot. There were the hours and hours spent at Chesterfield library wading through old microfiche copies of Derbyshire Times and what ever local studies information we could find. We purchased a complete copy of the 1901 census for Brimington and bought countless books to help in our understanding and research.
Unfortunately, more than half of the Great War service records were destroyed in September 1940, when a German bombing raid struck the War Office repository in Arnside Street, London. However an estimated 2.8 million service records survived or were reconstructed from Pension records. This means that there is a roughly 40% chance of finding the service record of a soldier who served between 1914-1920. So we were lucky to find as much as we did, and slowly we began to piece together the personal backgrounds and military histories of the lads from Brimington who lost their lives in the 1914-1918 war.
We still havent found all of them despite these years of work - there is a handful that remains elusive- 5 at the last count. We more or less know who they are but we can not corraborate the information we hold, so until we can prove it conclusively, we will keep on searching and corraborate the information we hold and hopefully update this website.
It has taken a lot of heartache, money and time to get as far as we have, but we will keep doing it, just as long as health and finance permit. And neither do we want this information to be lost, because the young men of Brimington who gave up everything deserve better than to be a mis-spelt name etched on a brass plate which is largely ignored.
Sally & Stuart Mullins, Brimington Common.
Work in Progress........
The ones still 'missing' :
J (John) Bradshaw
There are 4 Bradshaws remembered on the Memorial - three have been proven to be brothers. And 57 'J Bradshaws' are listed on the CWGC. Now after years of trying Im close to identifying that final John Bradshaw. And his details will be added to this website as soon as they can be verified.
There are over 400 'W Davies' listed on CWGC. And Ive tried various combinations of the spelling. There were Davies living in Brimington in 1901 and 1911 and Ive pinpointed one in particular, who was a boarder at Pondwell Corner, Brimington, before moving to Calow. But I still need to substantiate a soldier who fits that criteria.
Again this soldiers identity remains a mystery. Quite possibily he is James Dawson. There was a Dawson family living in Brimington in 1911 with a son in the right age range to enlist at the start of the war. But there are too many possibilities to pinpoint with any accuracy, and none of the 146 'J Dawsons' listed on the CWGC give a clue to any connection with Brimington - only Staveley.
Out of over a 1000 'J Taylor' listed as killed in the Great War, we have narrowed the search down to a handful with a connection to this area. One in particular seems likely as his wife was born in Brimington - but without the hard evidence of complete army records for this soldier, naming him is still 'work in progress'
We cannot find a soldier with these full initials - or any civilian information which might point us to the right man. There were a couple of
W Taylors living in the area in 1911 who are in the right age group. But once again we are still working on substantiating the evidence.
So although we cant say for certain just yet who these men are, they must have some connection with the village as their names appear on our War Memorial. So we remember them also .
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