War Memorial Project
How things started
During 2014, a member of the public who visited the War Memorial raised a query on the incorrect rank of a relative remembered on one of the memorial plaques, this sparked off the first of our projects over the centenary of the First World War. Following extensive research on all the names several other errors were found and the names of an additional 17 people 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 a decision was made to raise the funds to have the War Memorial cleaned and repaired and to 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 the Harrietsham Parish Council. In August 2015 work commenced on the cleaning, renovation, and the fitting of 7 new plaques which contained all 49 names of those who lost their lives during both World Wars. 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 and the local Royal British Legion paraded with their standards.
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 several 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 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 work commenced in August to ensure completion before Remembrance Day. Unfortunately, additional preparatory works were needed to be carried out to provide a firm base for the new brick paving which incurred additional costs but with the help of the Parish Council the additional money was provided, and the work was completed in time. 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 Remembrance Service were attended by relatives and many of the people who had donated money for the project.
Our third and final project was to provide an information board in the memorial gardens to enable visitors to learn about the history of the memorial and the events which have taken place over the past 100 years since its erection after the end of the First World War. During 2020 the designs were submitted to the Parish Council and following their agreement an order was placed enabling the board to be delivered and installed in April 2021. Funding was provided by the Parish Council with the society providing the small balance in their war memorial project fund towards the installation works. As part of the on-going care of the War Memorial and the gardens the Parish Council recently commissioned and paid for the cleaning of the memorial stonework in preparation for the Remembrance Day Service on Sunday 14th November.
Our sincere thanks to everyone who helped the society achieve all the projects during and following the centenary of the First World War.
During the Centenary of the First World War the society published two books, the first one entitled ‘Lost Lives of Harrietsham 1914 – 1918’ which tells the stories of the 31 people who lost their lives. The second titled ‘Harrietsham Times 1914 – 1918’ which contains a collection of village news articles throughout the First World War.