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Do you know these men? Historian’s mission to trace village’s lost soldiers

PUBLISHED: 15:58 07 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:58 07 November 2018

Morley man Horace Downes, 48, killed on June 5, 1915. Photo: Ann Edwards

Morley man Horace Downes, 48, killed on June 5, 1915. Photo: Ann Edwards

Ann Edwards

A village is preparing to travel back 100 years to celebrate the return of its young soldiers and trace those lost in battle.

20 year old Captain Douglas Willan, from Morley, killed on February 17, 1917. Photo: Ann Edwards20 year old Captain Douglas Willan, from Morley, killed on February 17, 1917. Photo: Ann Edwards

Local historian, Ann Edwards, has been documenting the history of Morley village, for the past 30 years.

Proud collator of an incredible archive of photos dating back to the early 1800s, Mrs Edwards is on a mission to trace the families of young Morley men killed in the First World War.

Inspired by a memory box in a village church which paid tribute to lost soldiers, the keen historian vowed to put a face to the names on the Morley war memorial and create her own display.

So far Mrs Edwards has tracked down photographs of two men: 20 year old Captain Douglas Willan, killed on February 17, 1917, and Horace Downes, 48, killed on June 5, 1915.

St Peter's Church, Morley, hosted a flower festival in 2014 to mark the start of the First World War. Photo: Ann EdwardsSt Peter's Church, Morley, hosted a flower festival in 2014 to mark the start of the First World War. Photo: Ann Edwards

The Morley memorial pays tribute to seven other First World War soldiers, believed to be either from the village or sons of Morley residents.

• Claude Henry Barker

• Jabez Goodrum

• Sidney Plowright

• Ellis Semmence,

• Fredrick Sowells

• Christmas Thrower

• Edward Thrower

Mrs Edwards said she is keen to hear from anyone that has photographs or information about the men.

As well as the proposed memory box, a special event on Saturday, November 17, will see the village hall transformed into a 1918 “home-coming supper”.

A traditional ploughman’s supper will be served and memorabilia from the war displayed.

Mrs Edwards hopes the evening will be a way to draw the small community together as well as a fun opportunity for people to dress up in vintage costume.

She said: “When you look back over those photos you see what it used to be like.

“Walking around you would see everyone and know one another but now we hop in the cars and you might only see your closest neighbour a few times a year. People seem to have lost the parish community.

“We are only a very small village and we would love to see some of that community spirit return.”

The supper will run from 7.30pm until 11pm, tickets £12 and all proceeds will be donated to St Peter’s church.

If you know anything about Morley’s fallen soldiers please contact Ann Edwards on anneedwards484@btinternet.com

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