AS Britain prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of the August start of the 1914-1918 war, extensive, moving and remarkable stories of the incredible role of Shoebury have just been revealed.
The names of 85 men from in and around the then village at Southend’s eastern tip are listed on the memorial near Shoebury Health Centre, in Campfield Road.
Many additional names of those who went to the so-called Great War and never returned, some still in their teens, are recorded on memorials in the Commonwealth War Graves section of the parish’s St Andrew’s Church, or on a plaque in St Mary’s, North Shoebury.
Their sacrifice is brought into focus in a newly-published book, The Great War and Shoeburyness, meticulously researched, written, illustrated and published by retired local headteacher Brian Sandford on behalf of the Shoebury Society.
Brian is secretary of this fastgrowing group of more than 100 members.
Copies of his book, on sale at £12.50, were snapped up at its latest meeting, when he gave a filmed talk and background to his research.
He writes: “The First World War, or the Great War as it became known, saw the deaths of 9.7 million soldiers and total casualties of nearly 37 million – the costliest war in history in terms of death and suffering.
“Shoeburyness played an important role in the conflict through the artillery and weapons testing on the ranges, the establishment of the airfield in nearby Rochford, and the setting up of a dog school to train animals for ‘duty’ on the front line.”
He recalls the day – November 11, 1918 – when the war finally was over and “engines on the railway in Shoebury started whistling, sirens wailed and children were too excited to work.
They were sent home at 11.15am for the rest of the day for a holiday”.
Copies of Brian’s book can be ordered from him on 01702 586622.