Rainham's war memorial at St Margaret's Church, lists the names of 99 men who died between 1914-20.
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 Sergeant's Thomas Swan (AIF), and Francis Baker (Buffs) were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
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
REQUEST FOR HELP WITH TRACING NAMES ON THE RAINHAM WAR MEMORIAL
The 2007 Remembrance day service was well supported with the church packed and standing room only.
A transcript of some of these names is provided in the following link.