Rainham's War Memorial by Paul Bishop

Rainham's war memorial at St Margaret's Church, lists the names of 99 men who died between 1914-20.

Rainham War Memorial with Church in background

The men of Rainham represented a variety of military Services. For example, 23 joined the Royal Navy, 12 served with the local, Buffs (East Kent Regiment), two men fought for Australia, and four represented Canadian regiments.
Two men, Colour Sergeants Thomas Swan (AIF), and Francis Baker (Buffs) were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Rainham War Memorial facing towards Cricketers Pub Photo 2003

Details from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, reveals the age of 69 of the Rainham men, which ranged from 17 to 61years.

It also provided addresses and family details of many of the men who fell in the First World War. For example, the memorial includes brothers, fathers, sons and husbands. At least 14 men lived in Station Road, six in Ivy Street, and three from Tufton Road. Others lived in 'cottages' along Bredhurst Road, London Road and other Rainham addresses still present today.

The Rainham men listed are buried locally, and throughout the world, including France, Belgium, India, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey and Russia. Many others have no known Grave.
The loss of 99 Rainham men would have had a considerable impact on a small, closely knit population of around 4000 people, dependent upon agricultural labour.
We can only imagine how the war touched the lives of so many Rainham families.
For example, see the following three men, who lived in William Street:-


Rank Name Service Age Date of Death Address
Pte. Edmund Couchman, Royal Navy, 20, 27/5/15 69 William Street
Pte. Albert Coppin, Lanc. Fus., 19, 24/5/15 53 William Street
Pte. John Bolton Royal Sussex. 22 6/9/18 42 William Street

It can be seen, that these men were the same age when the Great War began, and lived nearby each other in the same street.
Their loss would have been tragic for any family, and particularly, as the first two men died within three days of each other.


Rainham would have been continually affected by such casualties, which escalated as the war progressed. For example, the Rainham memorial reveals 7 men lost in 1914, 15 men in 1915, 22 men in 1916, another 22 men in 1917, 24 men in 1918, and 6 during 1919. Another two men recorded on the war memorial died in 1920.
Two Rainham men, died when HMS 'Princess Irene' was sunk on 27/5/15, and another three men were lost on the same day, when the Cruiser, HMS 'Natal' went down on the 30/12/15..
It may be of interest that 2nd Lieutenant, Harold Greenhalgh recorded on the war memorial, was the Headmaster of the Rainham Council school. The Landlord of the local pub also lost a son.

The Rainham memorial records the names of those that died during the War. It does not include the wounded, or all those who also served during the First World War. I am sure many local families, or those with a Rainham connection could add to these details? Electoral registers would show where more of these people lived? Census and Parish records would reveal more about their families? Local business directories would indicate their occupations? Newspapers of the day may provide photographs of these servicemen, as well as individual details?

I hope someone may research this, so that those names recorded on the Rainham memorial, and all the others who served will be remembered. The memorial is not only a record of Rainham's contribution and sacrifice, but also rich source of local history. The full listing of names on Rainham War Memorial is now complete at Roll of Honour



Research detailed below is being undertaken by Jonathan Saunders and if anyone with information concerning any of the Rainham fatalities could contact him on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (note the “_” between s and g).    Jonathan says "I think there were two Goodwin and a Godwin family in Rainham around this time.  As I recall there was a motorcycle accident in Rainham around 1917 involving an A. Goodwin from Gillingham – so the surname has strong links to the area.  This AJ Goodwin could have been from outside Rainham with his family moving to Rainham later but in time for the “door knocking” process to have a soldier/sailor killed/died, listed on the Memorial.  A handful of those named on the Memorial probably never lived in Rainham, or even visited it.There are about another 80 names not commemorated on the War Memorial, which I have also researched and was going to be the second book, plus I have a list of about 600 names in total of people living in Rainham that served in the services during WW1.  I am interested in hearing about all of them."

If you can help Jonathan with this research please contact him on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The 2007 Remembrance day service was well supported with the church packed and standing room only.

Rainham Remembrance Day 2007 Rainham Remembrance Day 2007Rainham Remembrance Day 2007 laying wreathsRainham Remembrance Day Veterans at Memorial 2007

A transcript of some of these names is provided in the following link.




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