THE PROJECT: Lest we forget - Each one was some mother's son.
Mike Willoughyby's research began in 2006, inspired by a comment from an elderly aunt mentioning her uncle who was killed in action on the Somme in WW1. Mike subsequently met a cousin, Rod Eggington, who had a picture of this 'Uncle Jack', but no other information. A long search to find evidence of Arthur John (Jack) King's military service and death, was finally successful, leading him to the war memorial in Jack's home village in Hampshire - Abbots Ann, and later to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme, in northern France.
However, he discovered that no-one in the village of Abbots Ann could identify Arthur John King - known as 'Jack', born in 1895 - as a local boy. Baptised as Arthur John, he had signed up as John Arthur and when the memorial was erected at the end of the war, he was entered there as 'J.King'. He had served in the Royal Irish Rifles in France from 1914, and was sadly killed in action on 8th July 1916. As a younger brother of Mike's grandfather, Jack was therefore Mike's great uncle. This made Mike realise that there are many other soldiers on local memorials whose identities are unknown.
In November 2012, Rev. Duncan Carter and Mike staged an exhibition in Holy Trinity Church, Henley on Thames, which the Mayor at the time, Elizabeth Hodgkin, attended with the Henley MP, John Howell. During their visit, counsellor Hodgkin learnt that there are more than 70 men in Mike's research who are not recorded on any of the 9 Henley Memorials, and in excess of 100 names do not feature on the Town Hall Memorial. It seemed a very fitting time to right this wrong, by creating a complete and lasting record of their identity and sacrifice.
This will be achieved in various ways, and as the project progresses the results of the dedicated work of a small team of volunteers will be announced as each element comes to fruition.