Jean George has spent the best part of a year researching and recording the details of men who were members of her church during the First World War who went off to fight, but never returned home to Uxbridge.
Mrs George, 72, now lives in Iver Heath but before that in Uxbridge High Street and is still a member at Christ Church in Redford Way.
Before the outbreak of WW1, there were four churches in the town which in the years since have joined together with her methodist church.
Wesleyian Chaple in New Windsor Street, Lawn Road Methodist Chaple, Providence Congregational Church and Old Meeting Congregational Church are no longer around but Mrs George hopes to make sure the memory of church members who died in the war, are.
“Me and my husband were lucky enough to be at the D-Day Concert at the Royal Albert Hall in June and a man in the audience shouted at the end We Must Remember Them,” Mrs George said.
“I thought how can we really remember them if we know nothing about them. As it is the centenary year, I decided to put all the information I have gathered in a book so that people can read about the men who lived locally who went off to war.”
Most of those ‘men’, Mrs George soon discovered, were in fact little more than children.
“Some were incredibly young,” she said. “The youngest I have found so far lied about his age and actually enlisted when he was 15. Many came from big families living in tiny houses, many were farm hands or shop assistants or labourer’s assistants - the war offered them a chance to escape, some adventure, to make something of themselves.
“Most of the people who went off to war saw it as a very exciting thing and I don’t think anybody expected the tragedy it became.”
Her research has taken her through war memorials, Census records and databases to find out as much detailed information as possible, including where soldiers lived and worked, who they were married to and who their families were.
“Suddenly, these men become real people. I was at Uxbridge Library - they have a copy of the 1911 Census and when I looked in there I found the name of one of the men I was researching and it turned out his sister went on to become a teacher and actually taught me when I was at school.
“I couldn’t believe it. I thought - we all are connected - it suddenly makes these people real to you. Many of the places these men worked are still here, many of the homes they lived in are still being lived in by other people today.”
Mrs George has researched the lives of around 30 people so far who attended the churches in Uxbridge before going off to fight in the war.
Their names will be read out at a Remembrance Sunday service at the church in November, as well as be published in her commemorative centenary book.
If anyone has any information about someone they knew who went off to fight in WW1 that they would like to add to Jean's book email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, drop into the Christ Church office in Redford Way, Uxbridge or call 01895 258956.