World war One Harrietsham War Memorial

Our first projects the War Memorial began at the start of the Centenary of the First World War, a member of the public raised a query on the incorrect rank of a relative remembered on one of the memorial plaques. Following extensive research on all of the names several other errors were found and the names of 17 others who had served in the First World War and had lost their lives were found in village records. Once we were confident we had everything correct it was decided to raise the funds to have the War Memorial cleaned and repaired and have new engraved stone plaques fitted in place of the old ones, quotations were obtained and the committee set about raising the £6,274.00 required. This was achieved by May 2015 with the help of a generous grant from Kent County Council Member Jenny Whittle, money donated by individuals and community groups, fund raising events within the community and assistance from Harrietsham Parish Council.  With funding in place and the order placed the Stone Masons carried out the renovation of the memorial and fitted the 7 new plaques with the 49 names of those who had lost their lives during both World Wars. This was completed in October 2015 and the re-dedication of the War Memorial and the new plaques was carried out by Trevor Willmott, the Bishop of Dover On Saturday 7th November 2015. The Mayor of Maidstone was in attendance together with, some living relatives, members of The Queens Own Royal West Kent Living History Group dressed in authentic First World War uniforms, the local Royal British Legion paraded with their standards. This event also marked the publication of the Society’s second book, ‘Lost Lives of Harrietsham 1914 – 1918’ which tells the stories of the 31 who lost their lives.

Our second project begun in 2016, this was to raise the money to improve the access paths in the War Memorial Gardens, removing the existing gravel and replacing this with brick paving incorporating a Roll of Honour for both World Wars in engraved bricks. With estimated cost in the region of £8,000.00 the society set about raising money with a number of fund raising events and by selling the engraved bricks at £20.00 each. Donations were received from far and wide including America and Australia where some descendants of those remembered are living. During this time hundreds of documents and records were checked and a final list of 366 names was arrived at for the engraved bricks. In 2018 with funds in place, quotations were obtained and orders placed, works were scheduled to take place in August to ensure completion before Rembrance Day. Unfortunately additional preparatory works were needed to provide a firm base for the new brick paving which incurred additional costs but with the help of the Parish Council, additional money was provided and the work completed. The new paving and Roll of Honour were blessed by Revd. Millie Hart at a short service on Sunday 11th November 2018. The blessing and Rembrance Service were attended by relatives and many of the people who had donated money for the project. Our sincere thanks to everyone who helped the society to achieve two fantastic projects during the centenary of the First World War.