A village will honour the 166 men who never returned from the battlefields of the First World War at a special ceremony next weekend.

The name of every man from Heston to be killed in the Great War, as it was then known, will be read aloud during a service on Sunday, August 3, marking the centenary of the conflict's outbreak.

Their names, spoken aloud by local Army and Air cadets, and by members of Heston Royal British Legion, will be punctuated by short biographies of two of the servicemen who gave their lives.

There will also be readings of war poetry amid a religious service, with specially selected hymns and prayers.

People of all and no faiths are invited to attend the commemoration, at which Hounslow's deputy lieutenant Maria Pedro and the borough's mayor Corinna Smart will be among the guests.

The list of names, and the biographies which help younger generations remember their tragically short lives as more than cold statistics, were painstakingly compiled by the parish archivist Lynda Hardy.

Lynda Hardy, the archivist at St Leonard's Church, in Heston (photo courtesy of Chris Yorke)
 

She has spent year's researching the lives of those buried in the church's graveyard, which, due to its proximity to the old Hounslow Cavalry Barracks, is the final resting place of many military heroes.

The Reverend Prebendary David Coleman, vicar of St Leonard's, said: "It is difficult for us to imagine ourselves back to that time, so near and yet so far. In many ways the War was unimaginable.

"In this parish, our commemoration of the beginning of the conflict centres upon those men of Heston who gave their lives.

"The painstaking research that undergirds this church and community has enabled us to see the fallen as not just a list of names, but real individuals.

"We feel we might know a little of their lives and loves, hopes and fears. They were ordinary people who made an extraordinary offering, and the residents of Heston today, of all faiths and none, can find common ground in honouring them."

The Book of Remembrance at St Leonard's Church, Heston (photo courtesy of Chris Yorke)
 

Ms Hardy has written four books about the history of the church and its graveyard, including one chronicling the 'posturing and politics' behind the war memorial which was unveiled at St Leonard's in 1921.

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."

Next Sunday's service will end with the symbolic extinguishing of six candles, before everyone present is handed a red rose and invited to lay it at the church's Cross of Sacrifice as a mark of respect.

* The service will take place at St Leonard's Church, in Heston Road, Heston, on Sunday, August 3, at 3.30pm.

Next Saturday, August 2, at 3pm, Victoria Cross hero Johnson Beharry will unveil a new war memorial outside Holy Trinity Church, in Hounslow High Street.

The following weekend, on Sunday, August 10, at 11am, a special service will be held at the war memorial outside Brentford library, in Boston Manor Road. Children will lay a cross for every one of the more than 300 people from the area killed in the First World War.