Village honours its WW1 war heroes

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One hundred years after a Shillington man was killed in the horrors of the Somme, his name is to be remembered in a special service.

William Sydney Grundon was just 22 when he was killed in action on October 12, 1916.

In a ceremony, carried out at Shillington All Saints Church on each anniversary of the deaths of the 27 men from the village who gave their lives in the First World War, William will be remembered by his family.

William was the cousin of Olwyn Lawrie’s great grandfather , and she will be giving a speech at the church on Tuesday October 11 at 7.30pm, to remember him.

The Grundons have deep roots in the village. Olwyn’s mother was born there and William’s last remaining sibling, known as Auntie Daisy, worked as a school dinner lady and was a resident of Skittles Court in Shillington until her death.

William was born in 1894 in the village, one of several children of Henry and Emma.

In the 1911 census he is listed as living with his father and stepmother in Aspley End, Shillington, working as a farm labourer.

He enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment at Clifton in 1914 and was killed in action on October 12, 1916.

His body was never found but he is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial at the Somme in France and on the Shillington war memorial. His father died before William was killed.

“I think it’s very important to honour them,” said Olywn, who now lives in Hitchin.

“The Somme had a massive impact on the village. I find it very emotional.”

The Rev Richard Winslade, Rector at All Saints, said the services aim to emphasis that the names on the memorial were real people, concentrating on their connection with the village and who their families were.

“It’s a dignified service which brings the person to life,” he said.

The half hour services have hymns, prayers and a reading of personal information about the soldier. There is then a time for reflection and a candle is lit to remember them before the reciting of the poem, For The Fallen.

The next service is a joint event for Charles Jepps, who was killed on October 28, 1916 aged 24 and Ernest Twydell who was killed on October 31, 1916 at the age of 22.

Their service will be on October 25 at the church, starting at 7.30pm and all are welcome.

The first service was held in November 2014 to remember Harry Ansell and Arthur Pearce, who were 21 and 19 when they were killed in the first few weeks of the war.

The final service will be for Frank Gudgin who died from his wounds in 1920 at the age 0f 26.

For a full list of dates go to