NORMAN THORPE, ROD MORRIS AND TOM MORGAN

The Thankful Villages

We can't remember exactly when we first heard the term "The Thankful Villages" but whenever it was, we also learned what a Thankful Village was, although we only had vague definitions at the time.

The phrase was first used by Arthur Mee in his King's England series in the 1930s. A Thankful Village, it was said,  was one which lost no men in the Great War because all those who left to serve came home again.   For example, in Yorkshire East Riding he says about Catwick, "Thirty men went from Catwick to the Great War and thirty came back, though one left an arm behind." It was also said that such villages have no war memorials - or that if they do, they are a thankful reminder of all who served. Any community which enjoyed this rare distinction must have been Thankful indeed, in an age when family and community life broken by war was the norm.

In the early days of the Internet, one of us (Tom) asked a question about The Thankful Villages in what was then the only discussion forum related to the Great War. There were few replies, and none which actually named any villages. But the record of that question remained and as it was just about the only Internet reference to The Thankful Villages, it showed up whenever anyone else used a Search Engine to look for information using that phrase. Because Tom was one of the few traceable people who had mentioned the subject on the Internet, he received a small number of emails over the next few years, asking for more information, but always knew no more nor less than the questioner.

Tom received one such email from Norman.  We were unable to exchange much information, but we parted company with an agreement to let each other know if we discovered anything more.  About a year later, Norman re-established the contact, having spent some time digging around for information on The Thankful Villages, and we began to produce this section of the site. When we began to produce the sub-pages, as described in the paragraph in red below, we were joined as co-authors by Rod Morris, an enthusiastic Thankful Village Hunter. It is Rod who has visited many of the villages, taking photographs and writing the text for their sub-pages.

We have also had valuable contributions from readers with local knowledge, who have sent photographs and/or written accounts of a number of Thankful Villages. We are happy to acknowledge each of their contributions on the relevant sub-page. We hope that this support and help from our readers will continue.

We think that between us, we have established the most accurate up-to-date listing of the possible Thankful Villages identified by Norman, given the research resources and opportunity at our disposal. The names of the villages on our lists came from several sources:  books by Arthur Mee and also from The Daily Mail, The Guardian, Stand To! (the journal of the Western Front Association) and individual correspondents.   Several of these correspondents e-mailed us after hearing about this article on Radio 4's "Making History" and finding it on the BBC website. All the names for which "Thankful Village Status" are claimed in these original sources appear in one of the lists below.

Each of the villages has been checked against the data held on the "Soldiers Died in the Great War" CD-ROM.  The data includes, for each soldier who died, his place-of-birth, his place-of-enlistment and his place-of-residence. However, many soldiers' entries have the place-of-residence field left blank.

It should be noted that the CD-ROM contains information ONLY about OTHER RANKS of the BRITISH ARMY.  The companion "Officers Died in the Great War" does not give any places of birth, residence or enlistment for officers. The CD-ROM does not include those who died while serving in the Royal Navy (including the 63rd (Royal Naval) Division),  Royal Marines or Royal Air Force.  Nor does it include soldiers who served in the armies of Canada, Australia or any other Dominion Forces. Our conclusions should be read with this in mind.

A further source of names and addresses for soldiers who died in the Great War is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which lists personal details for many soldiers, often including the names and addresses of next-of-kin.  This information was gathered by means of a "Final Verification Form", copies of which were sent to the next-of-kin inviting them to check the details which were about to be included in the Commission's registers.  It took a long time before the Commission's work approached anything like completion.  Remains were found and moved to cemeteries for many years after the end of the war, and the sending-out of Final Verification Forms mirrored this.  As far as we know, the first ones were sent to relatives in 1919 and the process of gathering information in this way lasted for more than ten years.

Where the personal details include the name and address of a soldier's next-of-kin, it cannot be assumed with certainty that it was the soldier's home address at the time of his death.  The only certainty is that at the time the form was returned, it was the next-of-kin's home address.

A recent development (at March, 2008) is the creation of a new search engine linked to the CWGC database.  This has more search terms than the CWGC's own search-engine, and makes it possible to search the personal details section of the CWGC database, looking for keywords. It is thus possible to search the CWGC database to see if any casualty's record contains the name of a town or village in the "Additional Information" field - something which was not possible before.  We now use this search engine also, as a broad initial search tool. Geoff's 1914-1921 Search Engine

We have created sub-pages, with further details about the villages today, and what "Thankful Village-related" items can be seen. The villages already included are underlined in our lists, and clicking on the village name will take you to the sub-page.  On each page is a further link which will return you to this article at the point where you left it.  If any readers have local knowledge and would like to submit photographs or brief written decriptions, we would be pleased to hear from them via the email link at the bottom of this page.

LIST ONE
This list contains the names of those villages which have no mention on the CD-ROM.  That is, these villages have no resident soldiers recorded as having died. (In the case of a village where there is no figure for the number of men, this could be because not even one man served in the army, though this is unlikely.)

These then, would appear to be real Thankful Villages.

County Village Grid Ref Men Notes
Buckinghamshire Stoke Hammond SP 8829

--

See note (ii) below
Cardiganshire Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn SN 6676

--

See note (xi) below
Cornwall Herodsfoot SX 2160

13

See note (viii) below
Cumberland Ousby NY 6234

12

 

Derbyshire

Bradbourne SK 2152

18

     
Dorset Langton Herring SY 6182

31

See note (xiii) below
Durham Hunstanworth

NY 9549

5

 Four of these were brothers

Essex

Strethall TL 4939

--

   

Glamorgan

Colwinston SS 9475

23

   

Gloucestershire

Coln Rogers SP 0809

25

War Memorial also lists one woman - Doris Barton VAD

Gloucestershire

Little Sodbury ST 7683

6

   
Gloucestershire Upper Slaughter SP 1523

25

See note (xii) below
Herefordshire Knill SO 2960

--

   
Herefordshire Middleton-on-the-Hill SO 5464

--

See note (i) below

Hertfordshire

Puttenham SP 8814

15

   

Kent

Knowlton TR 2853

12

"Bravest Village" - see note (ix) below
Lancashire Arkholme SD 5871

59

Slight query - see * below

Lancashire

Nether Kellet SD 5168

21

One soldier was awarded the DCM
Leicestershire East Norton

SK 7800

--

.

Leicestershire Saxby SK 8220

--

   
Leicestershire Stretton en le Field SK 3012

11

 
Lincolnshire Bigby TA 0607

10

 
Lincolnshire Flixborough SE 8715

--

See note (vii) below
Lincolnshire High Toynton TF 2870

14

One "soldier died" born there but resident elsewhere
Lincolnshire Minting TF 1873

10

   
Northamptonshire East Carlton SP 8389

7

See note (x) below
Northamptonshire Woodend SP 6149

19

One "soldier died"  born there but resident elsewhere
Northumberland Meldon NZ 1284

--

     
Nottinghamshire Cromwell SK 8062

--

Two "soldiers died" born there but resident elsewhere
Nottinghamshire Maplebeck SK7160

2

See note (v) below

Nottinghamshire

Wigsley SK 8670

7

   
Nottinghamshire Wysall SK 6027

12

See note (iv) below
Pembrokeshire Herbrandston

SM 8707

--

.

Rutland Teigh SK 8616

11

One "soldier died" born there but resident elsewhere
Shropshire Harley SJ 5901

20

See note (vi) below
Somerset Aisholt ST 1935

8

   
Somerset Chantry ST 7247

--

Slight query - see  * below

Somerset

Chelwood ST 6462

4

One "soldier died" born there but resident elsewhere
Somerset Holywell Lake ST 1020

20

     
Somerset Rodney Stoke ST 4850

17

.

Somerset Shapwick ST 4238

32

   
Somerset Stocklinch ST 3817

19

One "soldier died" born there but resident elsewhere
Somerset Tellisford ST 8055

3

   
Somerset Woolley ST 7568

13

One "soldier  died"born there but resident elsewhere
Staffordshire Butterton SK 0857

15

Suffolk Culpho TM 2149

--

   
Suffolk South Elmham St. Michael TM 3484

11

Slight query - see  * below
Sussex East Wittering SZ8096

--

.

Yorkshire Catwick TA 1345

30

One "soldier died" born there but resident elsewhere
Yorkshire Cundall SE 4272

12

   
Yorkshire Helperthorpe SE 9570

18

 
Yorkshire Norton-le-Clay SE 4071

16

   
Yorkshire Scruton SE 3092

--

See note (iii) below
Yorkshire Welbury NZ 4002

12

* For each of the three villages listed above which make reference to this footnote, at least one soldier listed in "Soldiers Died in the Great War" has been linked with that village. In each case no place of residence is given. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission gives addresses for their next of kin, but, as explained above about Final Verification Forms, these cannot be relied on as the soldier's home address at the time of his death. The only certainty is that the next of kin lived there when the Final Verification Form was completed. The separate details for each of these three villages are as follows:-

ARKHOLME
159515 Gunner John Haston, 275 Mounted Brigade R.A., died Egypt 27 November 1917, age 28. He was born at Hutton Roof, Westmorland, and married Margaret Moss, daughter of William and Ann Moss of Brown Edge Farm, Arkholme, at Whittington Parish Church, Lancashire in 1915. (Whittington is between Arkholme and Kirkby Lonsdale) He is named in the Roll of Honour and on the village War Memorial at Whittington. When she completed the Final Verification Form, his wife Margaret née Moss appears to have returned to her parents' farm. There is no record that John Haston ever lived at Arkholme.

2088 Private James Edmund Hudson, Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry, attached 53rd Mounted Military Police, killed in action Suvla Bay, Gallipoli 23 August 1915, age 21. He was the son of George and Margaret Hudson of Docker Farm, Whittington. This farm is sometimes confused with Docker Park Farm, Arkholme, but the 1911 Census is clear that the family occupied the Whittington farm. His name is in the Roll of Honour and on the village War Memorial at Whittington.

718403 Serjeant Edwin Smith M.M., Royal Field Artillery, killed in action near Ypres 31October 1917. He was born in Arkholme, son of the railway Station Master. The family left Arkholme before 1897. In the 1911 Census, his father is the Station Master at Keighley, and Edwin age 23 is living at home working as a "Stuff Merchant's Clerk" in Keighley. He enlisted in Keighley.

26311 Lance Corporal Fred Murray, 8th Border Regiment, killed in action 10 April 1918 near Ypres age 33. He was born in Arkholme; he married Beatrice Walker of Kirkby Lonsdale in 1910. In the 1911 Census they are living in Kirkby Lonsdale at 22 Mitchelgate. He is named in the Roll of Honour in Kirkby Lonsdale Parish Church and his name is also on the Kirkby Lonsdale town War Memorial.

Not one of these four soldiers was a resident of Arkholme when he died.

CHANTRY
1448 Lance Corporal Charles Richard Lapham, 1st Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was Killed in Action 25th April, 1915.  According to the CWGC, he was the Son of William James and Mary Ann Lapham and the husband of Jennie Lapham, of 23, Premier St., Nechells, Birmingham. Lance Corporal Lapham enlisted in Birmingham, so there seems a strong possibility that he and his wife lived there and not in Somerset.

SOUTH ELMHAM ST. MICHAEL
The South Elmham soldier is 266461 Private Edward Crockford, 1st Battalion, the Norfolk Regiment, who was Killed in Action 27th October, 1917, aged 19. The CWGC records his as the Son of the late Charles and Ellen Crockford, of Gorleston, Great Yarmouth.  Private Crockford enlisted in Great Yarmouth and as he was only 19, it is probable that he was living with his parents at the time, suggesting that the family might have moved away from South Elmham.

(i)  Ben Bydawell has pointed out that Middleton-on-the-Hill in Herefordshire, has a stone column in St. Mary's churchyard commemorating the fact that all the men from the village who served in the Great War and Second World War returned safely. The column is topped by a lantern and bears the inscription, "A thank offering to Almighty God (beneath this it says, "At evening time it shall be light") for the safe return of all the men from this parish who fought in the Great War 1914 - 1918 and 1939 - 1945." Middleton-on-the-Hill doesn't show up anywhere in the 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' database so we include it as a Thankful Village.

(ii)  There are three soldiers listed as having been born in Stoke Hammond, Buckinghamshire. Two of them are recorded as living elsewhere and the third soldier, Private William Harry Curtis of the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) has no place of residence listed.  However there is a "William Curtis" listed on the war memorial at Whaddon, near Milton Keynes, Bucks. There is no soldier called Curtis listed as having been born in Whaddon. Of the 55 "soldiers died" with the surname Curtis and William as a forename, only one other has any Buckinghamshire connection and this is a soldier born and resident in High Wycombe. We conclude that the "William Curtis" named on the Whaddon memorial is the "William Harry Curtis" listed as having been born at Stoke Hammond, just seven miles away.   On the basis of this conclusion we have included Stoke Hammond as a Thankful Village. We are grateful to Bill Kirk of Stoke Hammond for bringing the village to our attention and also to Will O'Brien who located the name of Pte. Curtis on the Whaddon War memorial.

(iii) Scruton, Yorkshire, was originally included in our List 2 as there was one "soldier died" (66641Pte. E. H. Corps, Northumberland Fusiliers) born there but with no place of residence recorded. However Janet Crampton, Chair of Scruton Parish Council, has discovered that Pte. Corps lived at Aske in the Parish of Easby, near Richmond, before he enlisted, and is named on the War Memorial at Easby. Scruton thus had three "soldiers died" who were born there, all of whom were living elsewhere at the time of their deaths and by our definition, Scruton is therefore a Thankful Village."

(iv) The village of Wysall, Nottinghamshire was originally included in our List 2 because there was one casualty (23778 Pte. W. O. Orridge, 9th Battalion, The Leicestershire Regiment) recorded as having been born there, but with no place-of-residence given. The Gotham and District Royal British Legion, who have carried out a thorough survey of records for their own purposes, are able to confirm that a soldier with the same name, number and regimental details is commemorated at Old Dalby, not far from Melton Mowbray, where Pte. Orridge is known to have enlisted. We are grateful to Mike Elliott, Clerk to Wysall Parish Council, for discovering all this and for helping to confirm Wysall's status as a Thankful Village.

(v)  Maplebeck, Nottinghamshire.  The CD-ROM names a soldier, 64933 Pte. Harold Thomas WRIGHT (King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) as born there but with no place of residence recorded. The birthplace is confirmed by the "Where Born" entry in the 1901 Census, which also shows the family to be living at 29 Whitfield Street, Newark, Notts.  This accords with the baptism entry in the Parish Register of Maplebeck:- "3 June 1900 bap Harold Thomas, son of Thomas and Sarah Ann Wright of Newark, Joiner. (Born 21 Sep 1899)".  Sarah Ann née Scott lived in Mapleback until married:- "31 Dec 1896... Spinster of Maplebeck... to Thomas Wright... Joiner of Blyth"  (Notts. SK 6287).  So it is probable that Harold Thomas was born at his grandparents' house in Maplebeck.  It appears that Harold Thomas Wright was never resident in Maplebeck even though he was born there.

Buried in Maplebeck churchyard is SE/21081 Pte. Arthur Ernest WILLIAMS (Royal Army Veterinary Corps) who died in 1917 in Manchester Royal Infirmary. According to the CD-ROM he was born at Stragglethorpe, Lincoln. This is 13 miles east-southeast of Maplebeck. Like Thomas Wright, he married a Maplebeck woman, Ada Louise née White, on 3 June 1914 at Maplebeck Parish Church, St. Radegund's. The CWGC entry recording his burial at Maplebeck states that he was "born at Harby, Lincoln" and was "the husband of Ada L. Williams of Ollerton, Newark". His burial is also recorded in the parish burial register. Williams enlisted at Newark, at 7 miles it is the nearest town to Stragglethorpe. (The CWGC birthplace, Harby, is possibly a postwar guess by Ada when completing the Final Verification Form. Arthur himself when he enlisted would give the information now in the CD-ROM.)

"Williams" is not a Maplebeck name and does not appear in any of the parish registers there from 1813 to the present day except for the entries for the marriage and the burial of Arthur Ernest Williams. This means that either Ada and Arthur did not have any children, or did not have them baptised in St. Radegund's, or had them baptised elsewhere. The latter implies LIVING elsewhere, and seems to be the most probable of the three options.

On our behalf, Catherine Duckworth of the Lancashire County Library has asked a number of librarians in Nottinghamshire, including Ollerton and Newark, to see if they could locate either of the above soldiers on their district Roll of Honour. Their names have not been found. We are most grateful to her, and also to Malcolm Dexter of Maplebeck who provided us with details of the 1901 Census and the Maplebeck Parish Records.  We conclude that Maplebeck is a Thankful Village.

(vi) Harley, Shropshire, was brought to our attention by Dave Trenberth, who informs us that a memorial inside St. Mary's Church names 20 men from the village who served in the Great War. The memorial has the significant inscription, 'By the Grace of God every one of these men returned to the Parish after the War'. We can find no reference to any "soldier died" who was a resident of Harley (although there was one "soldier died" born there but resident elsewhere) so on the evidence of the memorial, we conclude that Harley is a Thankful Village.

(vii)  Thanks to Charles Anderson for information on Flixborough, which has a window in the parish church "Dedicated to the Glory of God And in Thankfulness for the safe return of those from this parish who served in the Wars 1914 - 18, 1939 - 45. "Soldiers Died in the Great War" records no soldier died as being a resident.

(viii)  Thanks to Andrew Brice for information on Herodsfoot.  "Soldiers Died in the Great War" records no soldier as being a resident. Herodsfoot has a war memorial, but the inscription refers only to "those who served."

(ix)  Knowlton was adjudged the Bravest Village in the United Kingdom in a competition organised by the Weekly Dispatch in 1914 for sending the biggest percentage of its population to the colours. 12 men joined up out of a total population of only 39. The 17 ft. high memorial cross given by the Weekly Dispatch to mark the Bravest Village still stands. For more details, see the Knowlton sub-page.

(x) Thanks to Rosalind Willatts for the nominating East Carlton, which has a memorial in the Parish Church commemorating 7 men who served, and mentioning no casualties.  "Soldiers Died in the Great War" records no residents.

(xi) The CD-ROM lists only one 'soldier died' with residence stated to be "Llanfihangel, Cardigan". There were two villages of that name in this county. The soldier was 31548 Pte. E.T. Richards, 8th Bn. Royal Welsh Fusiliers, who died 4 November, 1915. On our behalf, Catherine Duckworth of the Lancashire County Library asked the library at Aberystwyth for assistance. Nia Richards of Aberystwyth located the name of Pte. Richards in the Roll of Honour at Llanfihangel Geneu'r Glyn. So Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn meets our criterion for inclusion as a Thankful Village. We thank Catherine and Nia for their willing help.

(xii)  Upper Slaughter has long been regarded as a Thankful Village.  However, we were surprised to see that "Soldiers Died in the great War" records one soldier as born and residing there. This is 8055 Pte. William John Clifford, 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, who was killed in action 13th October, 1914. He enlisted in Bedford. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records state that Pte. Clifford was the son of John and Emily Clifford, of Wilmonton Cottage, East End, Charlton Kings (recorded elsewhere as "Wilmington Cottage") and the husband of Charlotte Winifred Clifford, whose address is given as 1, Moreton Place, Brookway Rd., Charlton Kings, Cheltenham. We are satisfied that this was his family home. In the book "Leaving All That Was Dear" by J. Devereux and G. Sacker, there is a brief biography of Pte. Clifford which confirms that he lived at Charlton Kings.  In addition, he is named on the war memorial there. The "Soldiers Died in the Great War" reference to his residence at Upper Slaughter must be an error.  (The 1901 Census record shows that Upper Slaughter was not Pte. Clifford's place of birth either, although his family did live there for a time.) We are grateful to Pam and Ken Linge, of Northumberland and George Collett, formerly of Upper Slaughter, for their  invaluable help with this research.

(xiii) Charles Frederick Bailey, the first man named on the Roll of Honour, was born in Langton Herring but moved to Hampton, Middlesex. He enlisted at Hampton Hill in the Royal Sussex Regiment, and died of wounds in 1917 in hospital at Leicester where he is buried. His widow's address was in Hampton, and with the kind help of Sue McCoulough and Elizabeth Wait, we have been able to establish that his name is on the memorial screen at St Mary's Church, Hampton. His mother, however, still lived in Langton Herring, and his name was also added to the Roll of Honour there to remember this son of the village.

Thankful Village in France
Thank you to Prof. Dr. Stefan Fisch who occupies the Chair of Modern and Contemporary History at the German University of Administrative Sciences at Speyer. He has drawn our attention to an entry on page 196 of "Grand Inventaire du Génie Français" by Jérôme Duhamel (Paris 1990). Translated into English, it says,

"Between 1919 and 1925, a war memorial was erected in every community in France, with one single exception: the village of Thierville in the department of the Eure, the only French village which had no dead to mourn, not in 1870, nor in 14-18, nor in 39-45".

Thierville (postcode 27290) is in Normandy, 30 km. south-west of Rouen and 8km north of Brionne, between the D124 and D130 roads. From the above information we include Thierville  here as a a Thankful Village, but we have not added it to the total number given in the Conclusion. This number relates only to Britain.

LIST TWO
This list is used for villages which have been put forward as Thankful Villages, but about which there is some uncertainty or doubt. After further research, in many cases with help from correspondents with local knowledge, we have usually been able to transfer our "List 2 Villages" to List 1 or List 3, with a footnote to clarify our reasons.
We are not suggesting that these villages are not Thankful Villages. We are saying that the records at our disposal don't give them such a watertight case as the villages in List 1. All of them have "soldiers died" recorded as having been born there but with no definite place-of-residence.  One of them has a "soldier died" recorded as being a resident. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records may have an address in a different place for the soldier's next-of-kin, but this doesn't prove where the soldier himself lived.  

More clarification is needed and we would be happy to hear from any readers who can clear up any uncertainty.

County Village Grid Ref Men Notes
Herefordshire Elton SO 4570

4

See List One - Pipe Aston
Herefordshire Pipe Aston

SO 4671

--

See note (iv) below
Lincolnshire Gate Burton SK 8382

--

See note (ii) below
Warwickshire Halford SP 2545

--

See note (i) below    
Yorkshire Coverham SE 1086

--

See Note (iii) below                                                       

(i) Martyn Johnson contacted us to tell us that he believed Halford to be a Thankful Village in both world wars.  However "Soldiers Died in the Great War" records two soldiers as having been born there, but with the place-of-residence left blank.  Until we are able to find out where these soldiers lived, some doubt remains as to Halford's "thankful" status.  The first soldier is 204317 Pte. Thomas Henry Webb, 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, killed in action 17.8.17. However, the Commonwealth War Graves Commision records state that he was the husband of Laura Alice Webb, of 1744, Pershore Rd, Cotteridge, King's Norton, Birmingham.   The second soldier is 3486 Pte. George Thomas Trentham, 1st Battlion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died of wounds 8.6.15. The Commonwealth War Graves Commision (which had him wrongly named as "Trentha") has no family details. (At the beginning of November, 2007, we informed the CWGC of this transcription error and they amended their record later that month. Searchers will now find Pte. Trentham listed with the other Trenthams, of whom there are only five among the entire CWGC database of 1.7 million casualties. We are grateful to Terry Denham for his help in getting this error corrected).

(ii) "Soldiers Died in the Great War" lists one soldier who was born in Gate Burton - R/16819 Rifleman Arthur Hill, 9th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps - who died of wounds on 21st March, 1918. Unfortunately, there is no record of Rfmn. Hill's place-of-residence.  The Commonwealth War Grave Register for Rfmn. Hill's place of commemoration (the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing)  has no personal or family details. Pending further research we have placed the village in our List 2, and we thank Charles Anderson for bringing Gate Burton to our attention.

(iii) The Parish of Coverham-with-Horsehouse has been suggested as a possible Thankful Village. In the Parish Church, Holy Trinity, Coverham, (now redundant), is a Roll of Honour of 62 names of "Those men who took part in the Great War namely . . .".  In the other church in this parish, St. Botolphs at Horsehouse (Grid Reference SE 0481), there is a reading desk with the inscription

"In Grateful and Loving Memory of Private G.W.  Clarke 9th Yorks and Lancs Regt., Killed in Action at Granezza, Italy, Jume 15th 1918 aged 24. He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much."

The Soldiers Died CD identifies him as 235458 Pte. George William Clarke who died in the Battle of Asiago on the above date. It says he was born in Horsehouse, lived in Middleham, and that he enlisted at Leyburn.

The Commonwealth War Graves records say that his Next of Kin was his Aunt "Margaret E. Clarke of South View, Horsehouse, Middleham." The name G.W. Clarke is not on the War Memorial at Middleham, but it is on the Town War Memorial at Leyburn. He is not named in the Roll of Honour in Holy Trinity, Coverham, but he is named in the Roll of Honour in the Memorial Hall at Carlton (Grid Ref SE 0685) which is in the Parish of Coverham-with-Horsehouse; the inscription above the names is "Coverdale Lads Who Answered the Call of Duty".

In view of the uncertainty about the place of residence of George William Clarke, Coverham is added to List 2. We thank Marion Moverley for bringing Coverham to our attention, and for her assistance in searching Parish records, and in noting the details of the various Rolls of Honour in this district.

(iv) Until mid-April 2012, Pipe Aston was one of the villages appearing in our List One, and those interested might like to see our former sub-page before reading any further (click here). Following an email from Monika Morgan, in March, 2012, we looked again at the 'John Deakin' named on the Elton and Pipe Aston Roll of Honour, because there was a suggestion that he had been a resident of Pipe Aston. We had already searched 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' looking for occurrences of the place name Pipe Aston, but had found none. When searching for the name of John Deakin, Gloucestershire Regiment, though, we found an entry for him, recording his birth at Pipe-Aston, but with no place of residence given. The name Pipe-Aston with a hyphen was a variant we had not seen before which is why we had missed this unique reference in our earlier searches, when we had been using the name without the hyphen. ('Soldiers Died.....' also tells us that John Deakin was formerly 5337, Herefordshire Regiment).  Checking the Commonwealth War Graves Commission record for 31996 Pte. John Deakin, we found the following additional information; Son of James and Aleathea Deakin, of Aston Village, Wigmore Road, Ludlow. Native of Aston, Salop.

We note that the CWGC record doesn't prove that John live at Aston/Pipe Aston/Pipe-Aston, only that his parents did.  We know that they must have offered this information when they returned a Final Verification Form to the CWGC, maybe as much as ten years after the end of the war and as much as twelve years after John's death. However, the 1911 Census tells us that James and Aleathea Deakin were living at Pipe Aston, near Ludlow, with children Walter, Amy and John, who was 14 years old at the time, the oldest of the children and working as a labourer on a farm. All three children were born in Pipe Aston, so there is a strong possibility that there was continuous residence since at least 1897.

Finally, if John was 14 years old in April, 1911, he would have been 20 or 21 years old in October, 1917, when he died.   His next-of-kin appears to have been one of his parents, judging by the CWGC record, so we must consider the further possibility that John was living with his parents when he left home to go to war. Until we can verify or disprove these possibilities, we have moved Pipe Aston to our List Two. We would be very grateful to hear from anyone who can help us with the question of John Deakin's place of residence.

LIST THREE - OTHER CLAIMANTS
These villages have also been nominated as Thankful Villages in one or other of our sources, but according to "Soldiers Died in the Great War" their claims are thrown into doubt because most have at least one man stated as having his place-of-residence there although born elsewhere. The information in "Soldiers Died in the Great War" is assumed to have come, in the first instance, from the soldier at the time of his enlistment, and we must assume that a soldier knew where he lived. Clearly, if a soldier who died in the war lived in a particular village, then he did not return to his home in that village afterwards and this would appear to disqualify the village.

There are two villages which each have a soldier named and commemorated as a resident of that village, but on a memorial in another, neighbouring village.

County Village Grid Ref Men Notes
Bedfordshire Stanbridge SP 9724

33

One "soldier died" stated to be resident
Buckinghamshire Swanbourne SP 8027

67

Two "soldiers died" stated to be resident *
Cambridgeshire Knapwell TL 3363

23

One "soldier died" stated to be resident
Gloucestershire Brierley SO 6215

14

See note (vi) below. One resident listed on nearby memorial
Leicestershire Willesley SK 3415

3

One "soldier died" stated to be resident
Lincolnshire Claxby TF 1194

--

See note (vii) below
Lincolnshire Waddingworth TF 1871

2

See note (viii) below
Norfolk Ovington TF 9202

14

One "soldier died" stated to be resident See note (iv)
Shropshire Pulverbatch SJ 4202

49

See note (v) below
Somerset Priddy ST 5350

38

Three "soldiers died" stated to be resident
Somerset Stanton Prior ST 6762

4

One "soldier died" stated to be resident
Suffolk Gisleham

TM 5188

--

See note (ii) below. One "soldier died" stated to be resident
Suffolk Ilketshall St. John

TM 3687

--

See note (iii) below. One resident listed on nearby memorial
Suffolk Rushmere TM 4987

--

Three "soldiers died" stated as resident  **
Westmorland Morland NY 6022

--

See note (i)below. Two "soldiers died" stated to resident
Wiltshire Littleton Drew ST 8380

22

One "soldier died" stated to be resident
Yorkshire Cayton TA 0683

43

Two "soldiers died" stated to be resident ***
* Swanbourne has a further two "soldiers died" stated as having been born there with no alternative place-of-residence given.

** Rushmere has a further ten "soldiers died" stated as having been born there with no alternative place-of-residence given.

*** One from "Cayton" and one from "Cayton Bay".

(i) Sue Light informs us that while she was in France she  got into conversation with a couple, who, although having no interest in the Great War, said that there is a plaque in the church at Morland, Cumbria,  (then in Westmorland) just south-east of Penrith, stating that all the village men returned. However,  'Soldiers Died in the Great War' gives two men as having been born there, and one as being a resident. This is therefore not a Thankful Village.

(ii)  Gisleham, Suffolk, is also put forward as a Thankful Village.  There is one "Soldier Died" listed as having been born there, but with the place of residence left blank.  However, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records for this soldier,  Pte. C. H. Crane, listed him as "the son of David and Caroline Crane, White House lodge, Chisleham, Lowestoft" while we were initially researching him.  We could not find a "Chisleham" anywhere in England, and our conclusion was that "Chisleham" was a transcription error, and that Pte. Crane was residing with his parents in his place of birth, Gisleham, which, in this case, is not a Thankful Village. (At the beginning of November, 2007, we informed the CWGC of our findings and later that month they amended their records, replacing "Chisleham" with "Gisleham". We are grateful to Terry Denham for his help in getting this error corrected).

(iii) Although Ilketshall St.John, Suffolk, appears in various lists, the War Memorial in neighbouring Ilketshall St. Lawrence names a soldier from Ilketshall St. John, which is confirmed by the CD-ROM. This is therefore not a Thankful  Village.

(iv) Ovington, Norfolk, was originally included in List Two because there are two "soldiers died" listed as having been born there but without places of residence given.  Research has indicated another Ovington soldier, however. He was Pte G.H. Goodrick who died in Ovington on 15th November, 1918.  He is not listed in "Soldiers Died in the Great War" but his burial at Watton Nonconformist Burial Ground is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  Furthermore, the "Thetford and Watton Times" for 23 Nov 1918 says he was "of the Cock Inn, Ovington." and had "been gassed on the Western Front about six months ago."  On 30th November the same newspaper reported Pte. Goodrick's funeral with full military honours and confirmed his address as "The Cock Inn, Ovington." Ovington is therefore not a Thankful Village.

(v) A Roll of Honour in St Edith's church, Pulverbatch, Shropshire,  names the 49 men of the parish who served during the First World War. The memorial doesn't identify any fatalities. However, there are two "Soldiers Died" recorded as being residents of the village.

(vi) Until June, 2006 Brierley was included in our List 1 with the other villages which seem to have a watertight claim to Thankfulness. Brierley is a village which does not have a parish church within its boundaries. Its parish church is at Drybrook - "The Forest of Dean Chuch" which covers all the local villages. Inside the church is a large plaque for the Great War in wood for those who served, in brass for those who died. Rod Morris visited the church and saw the plaque, which mentions, among the names of the dead from other forest villages, "Ernest Mason  Brierley".

The 1901 Census has the following persons recorded as living at an address listed as "88 Brierly":

Ernest Mason, age 25, stone quarry mason, born Brierly (sic) Gloucestershire
Fanny Mason - wife - age 28, house duties, born Blakeney
Gladys May Mason - daughter - age 3 born Brierly (sic) Gloucestershire

If this Ernest Mason is the one mentioned on the memorial plaque he would have been 38 in 1914 and 39 in 1915 - just within the upper age-limits for voluntary enlistment during those years. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a record of 24531 Pte. Ernest Mason, 8th Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment, who was Killed in Action on 3rd July 1916. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has no personal details supplied by the next-of-kin. Pte. Mason is also listed in "Soldiers Died in the Great War" with the additional information that he was born in Elmley Castle, Worcestershire and enlisted in Campden, Gloucestershire. It will be noted that the 1901 Census and "Soldiers Died in the Great War" give differing places of birth for "Ernest Mason" so it is quite possible that there are two different people sharing the name. Or perhaps they are the same and there has been clerical error. What is not in doubt, though, is that when the memorial was installed in the parish church at Drybrook there was an Ernest Mason who was known by name at the time, known to have died in the war and known to be a "Brierley man." On this evidence, Brierley appears not to be a Thankful Village and this is why we have moved it to our List 3.

(vii)  Initially we placed Claxby in List 1: the village has no war memorial or roll of honour for the Great War, and it does not show up in a search of the CD-ROM "Soldiers Died". Jacqy Braithwaite of Walesby drew our attention to the book "Two Hundred Years of Claxby Parish History" by the Revd C. Russell and Elizabeth Holmes. On page 78 it mentions a soldier Private Fred Chapman. The CD-ROM says he was born at Willingham, Lincolnshire, and enlisted at Market Rasen; no place of residence is given. Page 78 of Russell and Holmes also says the Claxby Parish Register records the marriage on the 5th of January 1916 of Fred Chapman, labourer of Claxby, to Ellen Markham of Acre House Cottages. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that 202028 Private Fred Chapman of the 10th Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment died on the 3rd of October 1918, and that he was the son of Mr and Mrs C.N. Chapman of Claxby, Lincolnshire. The Market Rasen Mail also reports this death and says that he died of wounds in France aged 29. Also in the Mail in 1922 there was an In Memoriam Notice for Private F. Chapman of Claxby.

Claxby is therefore not a Thankful Village.

(Pte Chapman is buried in Terlincthun British Cemetery near Boulogne. This war cemetery is still open for burials. The remains of British soldiers continue to be discovered in the battlefields of France. They are brought here for interment.)

(viii)  Two men from this parish served in the Great War and returned home again. But we have not placed Waddingworth in our List 1 because it is not a large enough community to qualify as a village.

LIST FOUR
This is our "Pending Tray". When our investigations into a particular village come to a dead end because of lack of information or records, we will use this section to record what we have found so far. We will also mention the difficulties which have brought our investigations to a halt. We hope that readers with specialised or local knowledge may be able to offer suggestions which will allow us to continue.

County Village Grid Ref Men Notes
Suffolk Little Finborough

TM 0255

--

See note (ii) below
Suffolk           Wordwell          

TL 8272

--

See note (i) below                                               

(i) We are having difficulties in reaching a satisfactory conclusion about Wordwell. We have been unable to find any reference to anyone from Wordwell having died in the war, but we are also unable to establish that anyone left that place to serve. We are not really sure that Wordwell is a village in the real sense of the word. It is one of those Suffolk villages which never recovered from the plague in the 13th century. It has a Norman church, which has been disused since the early 1900s and which survives mainly due to its architectural importance and its Victorian restoration, and there are a few houses. During most of the 19th and 20th centuries, Wordwell was part of the Culford Estate - a rather artificial existence. There is no war memorial in Wordwell, and the memorial recording the fallen from the greater Culford Estate itself, though it names other villages and hamlets which made up the Estate, does not mention Wordwell at all.

(ii) Little Finborough falls into the same catergory as Wordwell. While we cannot find any reference to any resident having died  while serving in the war, neither can we find any mention of anyone going to war from the place. And as with Wordwell, we are not absolutely certain that Little Finborough was considered a village. The typical trade directories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries only ever refer to it as "a parish" or "a small parish." We therefore place Little Finborough in List Four in the hope that other researchers and local historians might be able to find reference to Little Finborough as a village in 1918-18, or find reference to servicemen who came from there.

CONCLUSION
Our research is not conclusive but it does suggest that the only villages with a clear claim to "Thankfulness" are the 54 villages given in List One.

We don't have expert local knowledge of every village, so perhaps there is other information to be considered.  If any readers carry out any further research at local level, we would be very happy to include their research here and, if necessary, revise our listings in the light of new evidence.

For a direct link to the authors of this article, email Norman Thorpe,  Rod Morris or Tom Morgan


The Thankful Villages Run


During the summer of 2013 Medwyn Parry and Dougie Bancroft rode their motorbikes to every one of the 51 Thankful Villages in the United Kingdom which we had identified at that time.  The journey started at Llanfihangel y Creuddyn, near Aberystwyth, at 9:00am on Saturday the 27th of July, and some 2,500 miles and 9 days later it finished at the same point, at about 6:00pm on Sunday the 4th of August. The ride will raise funds for the Royal British Legion - the target is £51,000.

The Thankful Villages Run website is at www.thankfulvillagesrun.com

Copyright © Norman Thorpe, Rod Morris, Tom Morgan, March 2004,  June 2005, June 2007, November 2007, November 2010, April 2012, August 2013, October 2013

 Return to the Hellfire Corner Contents Section