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Merseyside council project tells story of each of its WWI dead

The Guardian logo The Guardian 09/11/2018 Frances Perraudin

Poppies and crosses are left besides the names of the fallen inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium. © Getty Poppies and crosses are left besides the names of the fallen inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium. A council in Merseyside has embarked on a project to tell the story of each of its residents who died in the first world war.

Ahead of the armistice centenary, nearly 2,000 households in Sefton will receive information packs in the post, which include the details of those who lived at that address and died in action, as part of the authority’s Beyond the War Memorials project.

The project’s website documents the names and biographical details of nearly 4,000 men and women who were killed in the war, including those of 18 men from one small terraced street.

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The council said it hoped the initiative would provide “a living digital biography” to add to the names of the dead listed on 11 historical memorials throughout the borough.

Speaking to BBC Merseyside, one woman said a pack she received told her about three brothers who lived in her house and died in the war.

“Our four sons grew up in this house and I just couldn’t stop thinking about these three,” she said. “I could imagine them in this house, laughing, crying, playing. All the things that our boys did. And then they had their lives cut short.”

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Marie McQuade and Jo McCann, both local historians, gathered information about Antonio Street in Bootle for the project. Among the stories are those of George and Elizabeth Palethorpe, who lived at No 4 and lost two sons in the war.

John George, 30, was married with two small children when he was killed at the first battle of Ypres. His younger brother Frederick was 22 when his ship HMS Laurentic struck a mine off Ireland in January 1917.

Joseph Sloey and Joseph Kane, who were cousins and merchant seamen, lived at No 19. Joseph Sloey died aged 22 when he was shot during the Somme offensive. Joseph Kane, 24, was killed in action on 4 March 1917.

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Frederick Goodwin, 33, who lived at No 84, was one of the oldest in the street to be killed. He left behind a wife and three children, with the youngest, Lilian, born 22 days after her father’s death.

Trish Hardy, Sefton council’s cabinet member for communities and housing, said it had been one of the most “detailed, emotive and thought-provoking” projects the local authority had embarked upon.

“We want to highlight the brave men and women who gave their lives during conflict for the freedom from oppression that we enjoy today. We also hope that residents will treasure their packs and hand them on to future generations,” she said.

“Beyond the War Memorials is a living digital biography for most, if not all, the heroic residents of Sefton, who are listed on our civic war memorials.”

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