Trip to honour our war heroes

Members of the party visiting The National Arboretum
Members of the party visiting The National Arboretum

An emotionally-charged visit to the National Memorial Arboretum was taken by a group who were eager to learn more about brave ancestors — and pay tribute to the heroes of the armed forces.

The trip to Staffordshire left Greasley as part of a series of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One.

Thirty-nine people travelled to the arboretum to explore the memorials which honour those who fought for their country. But some learned more about their family history than they were anticipating.

Brian Lofkin, 67, from Baldwin Street, Newthorpe remembered being told his uncle, Private General Kington, had been detained in a Japanese prisoner of war camp during the Second World War but was shocked to discover more about him.

He said: “I just typed his name into the list system there but I couldn’t believe it when his name came up.

“He didn’t talk a lot about his experience but he did show us pictures of the camp, and it has inspired me to look into my family history.”

Meryl Beardsley, a retired teacher of Walker Street, Eastwood, said she learned more about her father’s experience of the war as he rarely talked about it.

The 72-year-old said: “It makes you realise what they went through in the trenches and how unpleasant it was with all the fleas.”

Meryl’s father, Albert Chambers, who fought with the Royal Field Artillery, returned safely from World War One.

But he had an arm amputated which had been damaged by shrapnel and had developed gangrene.

The organiser of the trip, Cllr Margaret Handley, a member of Greasley Parish Council, said the day had been a fantastic success.

She added: “Remembrance Sunday will now mean more to me.”