Sadness at Choppington First World War memorial with no names

The war memorial in Choppington, Northumberland, carries no names of local war dead, 100 years on from the start of the Great War

Residents of West Green, Choppington
Residents of West Green, Choppington

A Northumberland village war memorial does not carry the names of locals who have given their lives in conflict, 100 years on from the Great War.

The memorial at Choppington does not features any names, after they were removed 18 months ago when it was subject to an upgrade.

Their continued omission in this the anniversary year has sparked sadness with accusations of a lack of respect for the local war dead.

Community leaders have however told of their efforts to reinstate the names, with these hoped to be in place for Remembrance Day.

A memorial at Choppington was first unveiled in 1925 to the 82 local men killed in action during the First World War.

The structure with the names of the dead on a bronze plate stood in front of the village’s Memorial Hall.

However, it was moved in the 1950s to its present site on West Green.

Around 18 months ago, the memorial was given an upgrade - but the names were not reinstated afterwards.

In this the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, with events held around the country last week to commemorate 100 years since fighting began, they still have not been.

Choppington born John Dawson, 59, a member of the Six Townships local history group, said: “We have got a war memorial down there with no names on.

“This the big year, 100 years since they started the war.

“It is an insult to every brave soul whose names should be on there. ‘Lest we forget.’ We have got Remembrance Day coming up.

“This is an insult to the people’s loved ones. They paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“This must be the only memorial in the country that has not got a name on.”

Residents of West Green Choppington at the war memorial
Residents of West Green Choppington at the war memorial

Cousin Michael Dawson, who was also born in Choppington and served in the RAF, wrote on Facebook: “Such a shame. As an ex serviceman myself I find it a total lack of respect, by whoever is in charge of the monument... We all know why it was put there in the first place.”

David Nicholson, clerk to Choppington Parish Council, told The Journal that the memorial began to lean in the 1980s and had suffered partial collapse in 2011/12.

The parish council, he said, offered to fund any refurbishment and later assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the memorial and others in the area from Northumberland County Council.

The parish, he added, persuaded the county council to carry out repairs to the structure, in a partnership effort.

Mr Nicholson explained that it had been determined that the bronze plate with the names on was beyond repair.

A consultation exercise was then undertaken to decide what form the replacement should take with leaflets distributed and a public meeting held.

The clerk said it was ultimately agreed that due to the risk of bronze plaques being stolen, a bronze resin should be used which would give the replacement no scrap value.Mr Nicholson said the aim was unveil the plaque on Remembrance Day, with a service of dedication for it to take place separately.

The parish council is also in the process of creating two memorial gardens in the area to mark the centenary, which will also be properly dedicated.

Mr Nicholson said: “We are all very proud of the fact the community has got together, people has... made sure there is lots of things happening in a quiet way but an appropriate way to commemorate this great year.”

The original plaques are being held in storage and retained for possible public display in future.


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