Research sheds light on war memorial list
SEVEN years of painstaking research has provided detailed information on First World War soldiers commemorated on the Stile War Memorial in Padstow.
Thanks to Sussex-based historian Peter Smith, profiles of 55 of the 56 men are now available on the Padstow Museum website or in hard copy in the museum.
In 2006, Mr Smith was struck by the location of the memorial by the coast at Stile and embarked on a mission to uncover the past of every person listed on the monument.
The project has become part of a book the retired journalist is currently writing about Padstow's part in the war.
"People ask, 'Why did I chose Padstow'? And I say, 'Well, I didn't; it chose me'.
"I have visited the town with my wife many times over the years and passed the memorial frequently. Being sited where it is, one's eyes are always drawn to the marvellous views across the Camel estuary and never to the names listed on the granite sides of the Cornish cross.
"After my wife mentioned the names on the memorial I decided to read the names and find out a little more about them."
Peter's first port of call was Padstow Museum, but to his surprise it had no information whatsoever. "Once I saw there was so little information I was determined to find out who these men were, how they lived and how they died," Mr Smith said.
"Though I never thought this task would be easy, it has proved a lot more difficult than I thought."
Peter has spent hundreds of hours searching through council records, military documents, old newspapers, the internet and micro-film archives.
Luckily, some notable Padstonians offered their help, including historian and Padstow Museum chairman John Buckingham.
He said: "It was an absolute godsend to find someone who is dedicated enough to do a lot of research on our behalf."
Much to Mr Smith's disappointment, one soldier, 'A Barrett', has eluded him completely. "I can find no trace in any military records for him, which is disappointing indeed, so hopefully somebody will be able to come forward and help," he said.
Mr Smith would like family members of the fallen to look at the profiles and contact him or the museum with any additional information.
He can be contacted on 01825 762226 or e-mail: email@example.com
Meanwhile, Padstow Museum is interested in any artefacts or stories from the First World War with a view to displaying them for the centenary commemorating the start of the conflict in 1914.