Dozens of red roses were laid on a church’s cross of sacrifice as tributes were paid to the local men who lost their lives in the First World War.
The congregation of St Leonard’s Parish Church, in Heston Road, Heston, gathered yesterday (Sunday) afternoon to mark the eve of 100 years since Britain entered the Great War.
The reverend prebendary David Coleman led the service in which the names of all the 166 men from Heston who died were read out.
In the presence of VIPs including the Mayor of Hounslow Councillor Corinna Smart and deputy lieutenant of Hounslow Maria Pedro; representatives from the army and air cadets and Royal British Legion carried candles to the alter.
Short biographies of several soldiers were also read out, including that of lance corporal Cecil Scott Hickey, 31, the first casualty from Heston to die.
He had been a commercial traveller and tram conductor before joining the Expeditionary Force.
He lived with his wife and five-month-old son in Spring Grove Road, but was killed in action on October 19 1914 and was buried at Chappelle d’Armentieres.
Rev Coleman told the packed congregation: “We come together today, not to celebrate, but to commemorate and to reflect.
“The early 20th Century was a time of mass newspaper readership and people in Heston would certainly have read about the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire who’s death sparked the start of the war.
“We are here to remember the men of Heston who gave their lives and people from this community of all faiths and none can find common ground in honouring them.”
Both the names and the biographies were the result of three years of painstaking research by parish archivist Lynda Hardy.
Speaking about her work she said: “The Sacrifice of the young men who lived and worked in Heston deserves to be recognised and remembered for the part it played in bringing to an end the horrific fighting and bloodshed throughout Europe”
Her book of remembrance has been placed in the church’s All Souls’ chapel where it will remain for four years until Remembrance Sunday 2018. Alongside it is a book of reflection in which the VIPs and locals have added their own thoughts on the war and the sacrifices of local people.
St Leonard’s was once the closest church to the old Hounslow Calvalry Barracks and as a result is recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as an official war graves site.
Its cemetery, one of the largest in the country, also contains a cross of sacrifice and as the congregation left the church everyone was handed a single red rose and invited to place it on the memorial as a mark of respect.
After laying her rose, Ms Smart said: “It was my honour and privilege to be asked to be here. It was a very touching and very moving service and it really made me think very hard about each individual person who died.”