A message from our Patron 2012-2013, His Worshipful the Mayor Councillor Derek Burke
In my year as the Mayor of Southampton I had the privilege and pleasure to meet many groups across our city and beyond. One such group are worthy of a very special mention, the Southampton Cenotaph Families and Friends Group.
The SCF&FG was only established in March 2012 so they are quite a new group but have achieved a great deal in a very short time. They perform a very useful and needed service ensuring that the great debt that we owe to our fallen personnel, who served during the First and Second World Wars and the conflicts since, is not forgotten; that not only this generation but future generations are informed, aware, understand and more importantly, remember what occurred during the Great War and the wars that followed.
The SCF&FG are doing a remarkable job, the research and information they gather and write to this website tells the stories – sometimes harrowing and sometimes poignant – of the noble sons and daughters from this city to whom we are forever in gratitude. Even today more names are being added to Southampton’s famous Lutyens designed monument to ensure they and their many comrades are remembered in perpetuity.
In addition to this the SCF&FG are active in lobbying the council and other organisations to ensure all our memorials are kept in good order. This is a truly very worthwhile volunteer group and I am honoured to have been their Patron and will continue to support their work in whatever capacity I am able.
Currently there are just 13 friends (members) of the Southampton Cenotaph Families & Friends Group (SCF&FG) working to research and tell the stories of the Fallen of Southampton. We are always looking for researchers and volunteers. If you are interested in joining us or you would like to get in touch please write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone Paul Marchbank on 02380 319659.
Here is a brief auto-biography of each member:
I was born in Southampton and have lived here all my life. I began taking an interest in my family history in 2005 when I found a photograph of my grandfather’s family from the 1920s.
A friend had volunteered as a researcher for the Southampton Cenotaph project and suggested that I join. Following redundancy I found that I had a lot of spare time so I did as she suggested. I have enjoyed being part of this very worthwhile project which honours those men and women who fought for our freedom. It is very rewarding to research the history of these honourable people to ensure sure that their memories live on.
Shaun Connolly – Chairman
I have been interested in all things historical for most of my life and have spent several years researching my family tree as well as those of other family members and friends.
As a Sotonian born and bred the city’s history is of significant interest to me and I regularly read the Daily Echo’s Heritage pages with its focus on our city’s past. An advert in these pages in 2012 led me to attend an early meeting of the Group; I found it most refreshing to meet like-minded people and became a member that same night.
Attending this group has focused my love of historical research towards making it more than just a hobby; the Group’s combined efforts helping to uncover more facts about the lives of Southampton’s servicemen/women who fought for their country in times past.
On a personal level I discovered that several of my ancestors had been involved in wartime action and had all lost their lives at a very young age – three of them brothers.
Last year I had the honour of being invited to lay a wreath at Southampton’s Cenotaph memorial on Remembrance Sunday by virtue of my involvement with the Group. I was very proud to have been given this honour and am also very proud of all that myself and my colleagues have achieved in helping to highlight Southampton’s great wartime heritage.
Knowing about my interest in history my friend Celia Fraser, the founder of this project, asked me to join the group at its inception in March 2012. Born and raised in Southampton I feel we have a duty to tell the stories of those men and women from this city who sacrificed their lives during the two World Wars.
My dual role as SCF&FG Secretary and Treasurer involves website and general administration, managing finances and seeking funding so that we can complete our work.
I am a Moonraker born and bred(!) but moved to Southampton in 1994. A consequence of my partner’s involvement with Southampton history groups is that I too became interested; I have accompanied my partner to a several talks and study days, all of which have been very informative.
I enjoy historical programmes and books of all genres and, although I do not have the time to help with research, I did want to contribute to this project. I enjoy sorting out any computer queries so volunteered to help maintain the web pages and also undertake any ‘gophering’ jobs as and when required.
From a young age I have been interested in the military, mainly by making models and collecting toy soldiers. As I got older I studied, read military history books and started to research my family tree, this interest was starting to become a passion.
My wife and I have since made numerous visits to the Battlefields of the Western Front. It isn’t until you see row upon row of headstones that you get to realise that there are many soldiers stories yet to be told. For me, assisting in this project, in whatever small way I can, gives the chance to humanise those who would otherwise only be commemorated by a name on a stone memorial and ensures that their lives will continue to be remembered.
I love problem solving. The fewer the clues the more skill involved to unearth the truth. I also love facts, they are often irrefutable.
I began my own family history journey in 2007 and managed to trace all 6 lines (3 maternal and 3 paternal) back to the early 1700s before the facts became blurred. I missed the thrill of the investigation.
Then I saw the advert for researchers for the cenotaph project and I knew the group would not only benefit from my years of experience but I could also offer some web skills, so I volunteered and am thoroughly enjoying bringing back the lives of the young men who so bravely gave their lives so we could enjoy the freedom we have today. I do this research to honour their sacrifice.
On moving to Southampton I joined the civil service and worked for them for 15 years before taking early retirement. With days to fill I became very interested in Southampton and its history. I joined a couple of local groups, enjoying their talks and discussions, which has resulted in a bookcase full of books relating to Southampton!
In one of the many newsletters that I receive I read that the Southampton Cenotaph Project were needing volunteers. I became very interested and made contact. I enjoy researching histories of individual people and their families which has grown from researching my own family tree over the last 14 years and helping others with theirs. With this experience and knowledge I believe I can contribute to this project.
As Head of the School of Media at Southampton Solent University I oversee approximately 1300 students on seventeen BA (Hons) undergraduate and six Masters degree courses. I obtained a First Class degree in English and History and also a First for my MA in Cultural History. My ongoing doctoral research is concerned with masculinity and trauma in the Great War, specialising in Shellshock. My MA thesis was an exploration of sexual identity in the life and works of T.E. Lawrence (‘of Arabia’).
I am also a creative writer and have had fiction and poetry published in a number of anthologies.As a cultural historian I am very keen to ‘bring to life’ and to recapture the stories of lost soldiers from our region and accordingly I am very pleased to be working with the Southampton Cenotaph Families and Friends Group.
Terence Henry Randall
I was born on the 15th April 1931 in Northam Southampton, the second child born to my parents, but as my older sister died at the age of 20 months of Diphtheria just before I was born I became the eldest in a family of seven. Life as I recall wassomewhat spartan in those pre-war years and although it was a long ago, I do have a lot of memories from around the age of 5/6 years.On the 2nd September (the day before war was declared on Germany) I was evacuated with my two younger brothers to Dorset and except for the fact that I did make some good friends and found school a haven from the harsh life I led as an ‘evacuee’, life for the most part was pretty grim. Having said that, the war years although at times somewhat frightening, were often quite exciting and exhilarating!
I was sixteen before I lived once again in Southampton and as I did not have a family life to call my own, in 1948 at the age of seventeen I achieved my lifetime ambition of enlisting in the Royal Navy. In the navy I was a seaman who qualified as a ‘Quarter’s Armourer’ and consequently spent a lot of time working on various types of guns, from the tiniest to the massive! I sailed in a number of ships but most of my seagoing time was spent in two cruisers; HMShips Ceylon and Glasgow. I served in Ceylon for 2 years and 8 months with nearly two years of that time on active service during the Korean War. During the 18 months I was in Glasgow, I spent 12 months in the Mediterranean Fleet when she was the Flagship of the C-in-C Med Fleet, Lord Louis Mountbatten.
In 1956 I left the navy and joined the Southampton Borough Police as a constable, serving in that capacity for just over five years. Following that I worked in various occupations: telegraph operator, extruder operator, cable operator, finally spending the last 16 years of my working life as a security officer with Ford Motor Company.
In 1991 at the age of 60 I accepted an offer of early retirement which I grasped and I never looked back. Part of my duties at Ford’s Southampton Plant meant I was in charge of the department’s computerised fire and security system. This gave me an early introduction into computing which has played a big part in my retirement years. Researching family history became one of my interests and I have to say that this really can become ‘addictive’! I lead a full and active life, in spite of the usual ailments you would associate with age, with many interest and hobbies, among which is that of researching in a small way the names on the Southampton Cenotaph for SCF&FG.
As an officer cadet training in Southampton, the military interests me greatly. Since travelling last year I have broadened my horizons and become more interested in history and why the world and people are the way they are today.
When the opportunity arose to volunteer with this fantastic community project, I couldn’t resist but to get involved. I have determination and persistence that I knew would help the team when trying to find those last few facts about our men.
So many young men, some even as young as I am today, signed up in 1914 oblivious to the harsh reality of war. The courage and bravery shown by these men and women deserves a lot of respect, and assisting in the research of each and every single person who died for our country will mean they did not die in vain. Every person named on the cenotaph is a hero, let’s give them the recognition they have earned.
When I found out about the Friends of Southampton Cenotaph Group I decided to volunteer to become a researcher. I was born in Southampton, I work for the City and have a long association with the armed services and wanted to do something to help remember those who had lost their lives and were remembered on the Cenotaph.
I have always had a keen interest in World War 1 and World War 2 and have visited many of the battlefields in France and Flanders and attended the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate twice. I served in the Royal Air Force and was privileged enough to represent Royal Air Force St Athan at a remembrance parade in Wales, it was very moving.
One of my Grandfathers was in bomber command during the Second World War and the other was in the Royal Navy. My Great Uncle was in the Merchant Navy and was involved in D-Day although I never knew what he did. My Great Grandfather was in the Royal Marines and another was in the Cavalry. All were lucky enough to survive the various conflicts they were involved in but those on the Cenotaph were not. It is important that we use the technology we have today to ensure that we preserve the memories of those from the City who lost their lives in the service of their country. The website is a place where people can read their stories and begin to understand a little bit more about the person behind the name.
I have always been interested in history and am currently researching my father’s family line (back to 1700 so far). My father was in the Navy during WW2 and whilst he would never speak about his experiences I always wanted to know more so after his death in 2000 started to research and discovered the part his ship, HMS Scott, played in the D-Day landings and laying PLUTO (Pipeline under the ocean). HMS Scott was also used to tow the Mulberry harbours to France after the invasion and to survey the dangerous waters between Iceland and Scotland during 1942-43.
I moved to Southampton 7 years ago. Having reduced my working hours in 2012 I had some free time and on learning that this project was looking for volunteers I decided to take part and help to ensure the sacrifice made by the men listed on the cenotaph is always remembered.
I have been researching my own family history (all from in and around Southampton) so when I saw my maiden name, Comley, on the Cenotaph I felt compelled to join the group. I have since discovered that the name on the Cenotaph, that of John Comley, was a brother of my great-grandfather and I feel very proud that I will soon be able to add his story to the website. I have long been interested in the two World Wars, particularly the home front and the way that the wars impacted on everyday life. I love research so the chance to combine genealogy and local history is very exciting. I look forward to researching other names on the cenotaph and being able to add the stories behind the names. I want to help ensure that these men and women are not forgotten.
I have been interested in genealogy since my father passed away in 1981 and I inherited our family bible and an heirloom of a photograph album. My daughter and I started to compile our family tree and continue to do so to the present day.
Celia Fraser, my son-in-law’s stepmother and someone who was to become a great friend, began compiling the cenotaph information and on her untimely death from cancer in 2012 it seemed only fitting in her memory that I should become involved to carry on the work which she started.
I am also interested in the 1st and 2nd world wars, especially the second as my father took part in the D-Day landings. On his death our family found a book which he had handwritten about his life and time from being called up for his war service in the Eighth Army Royal Engineers. I was very proud after reading this and made it my mission to have the book published which I did in 2010. The book was sold through Waterstones and Amazon and all proceeds from sales were given to Help for Heroes. We also followed my father’s D-Day landing footsteps from Juno Beach in Normandy to Caen. He is remembered in the Juno Beach museum for his service. I think it is so important to remember those who fought for our freedom, and to be able to honour and help the names on the cenotaph come alive through the research is a great privilege.