A new roll of honour featuring the names of 4,272 men and women from Wolverhampton who died during the First World War has gone on public display in the Civic Centre.
The memorial, which has been created as part of Wolverhampton’s programme of activities to mark the centenary of the end of the conflict, is the result of years of painstaking research by staff and volunteers at the city’s archives service.
Many of the names of the fallen have never been recognised before on any official record and the updated roll is therefore the most accurate and comprehensive memorial to the city’s war dead ever produced.
The roll contains not only the names of soldiers who died on the frontline, but also men and women who were fatally injured after contributing to the war effort in other ways such as accidents at munitions factories.
City historians believe that up to 242 of the war dead were ‘forgotten’ victims, having never previously appeared on any public memorial.
When the war ended in 1918, councils across the land – including Wolverhampton and Bilston – rushed to produce lists of the fallen and were reliant on grieving families to provide them with details.
City of Wolverhampton Council’s senior archivist Heidi McIntosh said: “This was before the days of television, radio, internet or social media – so not everyone was aware of the call for names, some soldiers had no close family and people got missed off.
“Many men who did not appear on the official rolls of honour were remembered at other local memorials, either in churches, in works and factories or sports clubs etc.
“All these memorials were exclusively lists of men who served with the armed forces. They do not include any women – some of whom died in accidents at munitions factories – or men who contributed to the war effort in other ways, but were either ineligible, unable or unwilling to fight.”
The archives team have used multiple sources including newspaper reports, school records, memorials, minutes from council meetings, internet sites and letters over the past four years to come up with the list of names to appear on the updated roll of honour.
Councillor Linda Leach, chairwoman of City of Wolverhampton Council’s remembrance committee, said: “The archives have done a wonderful job to produce this new and much more complete roll of honour which has involved years of painstaking research.
“It has been a century since the First World War ended and now, for the first time, we have a memorial that brings together everyone we are aware of who died either fighting or contributing to the war effort in other ways.
“It is especially poignant that people who have previously been forgotten and missed off public rolls of honour are now included alongside their comrades. It is incredibly moving to see all those names of people from Wolverhampton who died defending their country in a terrible conflict and I would urge everyone to come and see it.”
The roll of honour is on display in the foyer of the Civic Centre, St Peter’s Square. The building is open from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and from 8.30am to 4.30pm on Fridays.
The roll of honour can also be viewed online: https://wolverhamptonswar.wordpress.com/wolverhamptons-roll-of-honour/