Dunstable’s ‘forgotten’ war heroes will finally be honoured

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Some “forgotten” Dunstable heroes are to have their names added to the town’s War Memorial.

Their deaths in the two World Wars had been overlooked when the memorial, in Priory Gardens, was erected in May 1952.

Over the years, relatives have queried apparent omissions from the list of casualties. But the known names had been preserved on cast-metal tablets, fixed to the memorial, which could not be altered.

Now, the whole memorial needs restoration. The brick-based structure has started to subside and an appeal is about to be launched to raise money to correct this while also providing a stone fascia and improved paving.

When this happens, the opportunity will be taken to replace the list of names with a complete new version of almost 50 more to add.

It is also proposed to add a new stone-carved Combined Services emblem to remember those who have given their lives in conflict since the Second World War.

Two members of the Dunstable and District Local History Society, David Underwood and June Byrne, have conducted research into the missing names over many months. They have had access to documents preserved by the late Terry Oliver of Dunstable Rotary Club, which organised the public appeal for names and information in the 1950s.

Dunstable Town Council is organising the refurbishment with support from a number of organisations including the Royal British Legion, Dunstable and District Local History Society, Dunstable Rotary Club and the Friends of Priory House and Gardens. The Friends will be running a crowd-funding page on the internet to ask local people to make pledges of support to cover as much of the cost as possible. The appeal for funds will be launched on March 3 and it is hoped that work will begin this summer.

The extra names on the memorial will include, for instance:

Private George Farnham, who was killed in action at Gallipoli on August 16 1915, aged 20. He was the son of John and Fanny Farnham, of 103 Edward Street, Dunstable.

Private Victor George Allen, who died aged 24 on August 9 1918 while serving with the Bedfordshire Yeomanry in France. He was the son of George and Mary Allen of Melbourne, Australia, and was married to Amy Priscilla Allen of Primrose Cottage, Upper West Street, Dunstable.

Private Gerald Edward Hills, who was killed in action in Flanders on July 20 1917. aged 31. His wife was Edith Hills of 7 Garden Road, Dunstable.

Ft/Sgt Harold Dennis Perrin of Dunstable who died aged 27 on November 11 1941 when the Bristol Blenheim aircraft in which he was wireless operator and gunner crashed into trees at Bloxham near Banbury, Oxfordshire.

Ft/Sgt William David Sherriff who died aged 34 on June 27 1940 during the retreat to Dunkirk. The husband of Violet Sherriff of Dunstable, he was serving as ground crew with 72 Squadron and was killed when his lorry struck a land mine.