Helensburgh War Memorial Families Project
This project has been funded by the National Lottery ‘World War I: then and now’ programme. During the restoration of the war memorial, as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded regeneration of Hermitage Park, a great deal of community interest was focussed on our beautiful A Listed war memorial. The Friends were recently asked what aspect of the restoration project we were most proud of. While there is much to be pleased with and more work to be done in the park to restore it to its former glory, it is easy to answer this question – the restoration of the war memorial.
It is impossible not to be moved reading the 206 names of the Helensburgh men,and one woman, who died in WWI. We wondered who they were, about their lives and families, their dreams and aspirations, what their lives would have been had they not made the ultimate sacrifice.
We cannot make them live again but we hoped that by recording their stories we could bring life to the names carved in stone and reach across time to deepen our community's understanding and appreciation of their sacrifice and the impact that WWI had in our town.
This project has been an emotional experience at times for our small research team. The huge loss of young lives, that half the men named on our memorial have no known grave, the horror and hardship they endured and the cruel twists of fate. Now we know something of these brave souls, they are no longer just names carved in stone from the past.
We hope this project will contribute to our local history records and be an appropriate acknowledgement of our war dead. We hope further information will come to light now that we have made a beginning on telling the stories of those who died in the Great War.
We are grateful to everyone who has assisted us, particularly the descendants of those named on the memorial. Also, to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission who have permitted use of all the cemetery and memorial images. On the altar in front of the memorial it says, ‘Let those who come after see to it that their names are not forgotten’. This edict has been the driving force of this project and we hope we have gone some way towards honouring this and the memory of those who died in World War I.
This project has been undertaken by Ann Stewart, Moira Griffiths-Cunningham, Jim Chestnut and Fiona Baker, Friends of Hermitage Park.