A Millennium Project initiated by the Friends of  Leatherhead Parish Church,
now with Leatherhead & District Local History Society

LEATHERHEAD WAR MEMORIALS PROJECT
How it started


Leatherhead Town War Memorial, North Street

Liam Sumption and the Leatherhead and District Local History Society

Liam Sumption came to Leatherhead in 1983 on his retirement from HM Customs. He was able to indulge his interest in researching and writing on military history.

In the early 1990s he became interested in those shown on the Leatherhead War Memorial in North Street. He was a keen member of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society. He eventually deposited with the Society his considerable research on those who were World War I casualties under the title Taken, Not Given.

The current researchers are full of admiration and thanks for the work Liam accomplished on the background of the actions in which each casualty occurred. Liam was a non-driver and painstakingly visited many locations to gather information in the days before laptops. We fully acknowledge Liam's work and are gradually adding it to this website.

Liam moved to Guildford. We are grateful to the Society for access to Liam's material and would be delighted to hear of his present whereabouts.

1998 The Friends and Leatherhead Royal British Legion

The Friends of Leatherhead Parish Church and Leatherhead RBL appealed for the names of any who appeared to be missing from the town's war memorials. At the time this was thought likely to involve the inter-war 'policing' actions and the post-war conflicts, notably Korea, Malaya, Cyprus, Indonesia, Aden, The Falklands, The Gulf, and possibly other active service casualties such as on UN peacekeeping or Northern Ireland duties.

In November 1998 research was greatly aided by the launch of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Debt of Honour on-line database of all who gave their lives in WWI or WWII on service with British or Commonwealth forces.  It is a wonderful resource.  Those who have visited any CWGC cemetery know what a marvellous job they do.  Please visit the CWGC website - see it via Useful Links on the left of your screen.
The In from the Cold Project website has a useful page about the scope of the CWGC listings.

1999 Ian Whitlock in the Leatherhead Advertiser

In February 1999, the Leatherhead Advertiser began a series of articles based on research by a local WWI specialist, Ian Whitlock.  Working from a recently issued database of the WWI dead,  drawn from publications that listed them, he found some names of men born or resident in Leatherhead that were apparently missing from the Town War Memorial. Ian generously accepted an invitation from the Frank Haslam of the Friends to work together on further research.  We have been working together with local churches and interest groups.

2009 Leatherhead and District Local History Society Local War Memorials Project

Frank Haslam, who was then website editor for L&DLHS, set up the Local War Memorials Project with the Society, in order to create websites similar to Leatherhead's for neighbouring villages. Where possible this is done with the help of local history societies. These include Ashtead, Box Hill, Effingham, Fetcham, Great Bookham, Little Bookham, Mickleham and Oxshott. Some now have their own war memorial websites.

2016 Lorraine Spindler's book Leatherhead in the Great War

Lorraine was at that time Curator of Leatherhead Museum. She runs her own regular battlefield tours to Ypres and the Somme, and weekly classes in local history and genealogy. Her book was published by Pen & Sword in 2016 (softback, 144 pages).

Making use of a small sample of those who died, and looking at some survivors, Lorraine made extensive use of local and national archive material to paint a fascinating picture of the impact of the Great War on this small Surrey town - for example the Tribunals that took place to decide whether a man's services could be deferred and for how long. She acknowledged the work being done on this project.

Lorraine continues to be of great help in providing research resources to assist in this project. The book can be obtained in good local bookshops, or on-line


Access to the Town War Memorial, North Street (as of November 2018)

The Town War Memorial had been used as a place of shelter by some visitors to Leatherhead. On occasion some had been abusive to those visiting the Memorial and there had been litter problems - and worse. It was decided some years ago that the memorial gates would be kept locked. Some would say it is a sad commentary on our times.

As a concession, a notice appeared on the Memorial gates with a phone number to call for an appointment to view the Memorial. The council said that they preferred that their representative would arrive and open the Memorial for visitors and then return later to lock it when the visitors had gone. They refused to consider opening the Memorial a single day of the week. A different arrangement now applies:

The Help Shop referred to in the notice is now in the Library in Church Street.

They will provide genuine visitors with a key to the War Memorial which must be returned no later than 4.30pm the same day.

Their opening hours are currently:
 
Sunday: Closed
Monday: Closed
Tuesday: 9:30am–4:30pm
Wednesday: 9:30am–4:30pm
Thursday: 9:30am–4:30pm
Friday: 9:30am–4:30pm
Saturday: 9:30am–4:30pm