War memorials across Uttlesford to be spruced up ahead of First World War centenary

11:26 26 June 2014

Saffron Walden war memorial.

Saffron Walden war memorial.

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Thousands of pounds will be spent sprucing up war memorials and planting poppies ahead of the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

Saffron Walden war memorial.Saffron Walden war memorial.

The money, set aside by Uttlesford District Council (UDC), will allow communities to source a share of the £33,000 funding pot to have their War Memorials cleaned.

Cabinet member for community partnerships and engagement, Councillor Howard Rolfe, said: “We wanted to recognise the anniversary of the start of the First World War and Uttlesford’s war memorials are an acknowledgement of those who lost their lives in both Great Wars.

“It’s something the council was very keen to do and we think it’s an appropriate gesture.”

Each parish will be able to spend up to £550 to clean or repair its war memorial and buy poppy seeds to remember Uttlesford’s fallen heroes.

The district council is also splashing out £5,000 to recognise the origins of Carver Barracks, known as RAF Debden during the Second World War.

A memorial plinth will be erected outside the Wimbish base to honour the servicemen who flew sorties from the old airfield.

UDC cabinet member for finance, Cllr Robert Chambers, and leader Jim Ketteridge were given the idea by RAF Debden historian Keith Braybrooke.

Cllr Chambers said: “Many people who come here don’t realise Carver Barracks was called RAF Debden during the war. We thought it would be nice to recognise the people who served there, both American and British, with a small memorial.

“It would be super if we could get it erected by Remembrance Sunday, so that people are more aware of the history of the base.”

Meanwhile, Saffron Walden’s First World War historian Bob Pike has devised another way of honouring those who gave their lives during the two world wars.

He is hoping to liaise with the Royal British Legion (RBL) to recruit volunteers from the town to place memorial plaques on the graves of all 159 men listed on Saffron Walden’s war memorial.

“I came across the grave of a soldier in France on which had been placed a small card affixed to a piece of wood on behalf of the village he came from,” Mr Pike said. “This was officially done and it struck me that Saffron Walden could do the same.

“A printed card, perhaps with a poppy and the Saffron crocus on it, could be fixed to one of the RBL’s little wooden crosses and over the next four years, perhaps as they drive through France on holiday, volunteers could visit each of the graves.

“It is worth pointing out that many are on memorials or in cemeteries with others, so we are not talking about 159 separate visits.”

Mr Pike suggested local schools could design the cards and funding for the idea sourced from Saffron Walden Town Council and the RBL.

There are 11 graves in Walden, seven elsewhere in the UK, four in Gallipoli, one in Italy, three in Palestine/Israel and one in Egypt. The rest are in France and Belgium.

More information on the initiative will be available in the coming months.

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