Background Information

Many war dead name researchers focus singularly on the names found on their local war memorials be they town, school, church, employment or leisure organisations. I have approached this subject from a different angle, in that I have attempted to list EVERY possible name of ANYONE who may have some connection, however tenuous, with Hayfield, Little Hayfield, Kinder, Birch Vale and Thornsett, Derbyshire.

Most of us would automatically expect that our town's war memorials are not only accurate, but complete - not the case. I became quite angry when I first started this project as I found that so many names were missing from their respective town's war memorials, but eventually became philosophical about these omissions, as the reasons, that I had not previously considered, are numerous:-

1. It has to be remembered that the names were collated, often by a well meaning local official or a retired member of the armed forces, or even by a local newsagent after local newspaper appeals for names to be submitted.

2. Men started dying in 1914 and it was to be another 6+ years before the appeals for the submission of their names.

3. Parents died young in those days and this meant that there was no-one left to submit their son's name for inclusion on the memorial. Surviving parents sometimes retired and moved away.

4. Some parents and widows point blank refused to "give-up" on their loved ones and would not accept that they were in fact dead. Some clung desperately to the belief that their missing son or husband was a POW somewhere or was trapped in a hospital suffering from loss of memory.

5. Widows had died or remarried in the intervening years, perhaps moving away from the area and again were not there to submit the names of their former husbands. Their new husbands were perhaps not sympathetic to their new wife's loyalty to their first husband's name, so kept quiet.

6. I know of at least one case where a family did not want to be reminded of the loss of their loved one each time they passed the town memorial on the way to the shops, etc, so deliberately failed to submit their son's name, or were adamant that they did not want the persons name added. One family in Bowdon, Trafford, Greater Manchester refused to have the person's name added to the family gravestone.

7. The time allowance from the appeal to the submission of the names was often very limited, so did not give everyone the opportunity to submit a name in time before the list closed. Assuming that a person's name did get listed, it was often not correct. It is quite amazing the number of incorrect names that have been carved in stone or cast in bronze! Again, there are several explanations for this.

8. As in (2) above, old pre-war friends submitted their late chums name and/or the regiment that they served in incorrectly, perhaps giving the regiment into which their pal enlisted way back in 1914. But, during the course of the war, many men were drafted into different regiments to replenish battalions that had earlier been virtually wiped out.

9. People used their middle name or a nick-name and often shortened their forenames.

10. The nuances of people's forenames - Harold and Harry - and surnames, Davis and Davies, etc.

11. Finally, there is just simple human error and bad handwriting. I have found to my cost when transcribing such lists, just how easy it is to miss out or to duplicate a name or even to mix a forename up with someone else's surname - it's easily done.

Almost EVERY source of information contains errors, even highly respected sources. The sheer size of the task then facing well meaning officials, sometimes volunteers, was immense - it is small wonder that there are not even more errors.