Ryton is little more than a hamlet and does not have a Parish Church therefore it held no record or memorial to the men of Ryton who served during WW1. Despite this, I was aware that several Ryton men had served because my friend, Ann Duddridge had told me of several members of her family who had served, two of whom had died in battle.
I am a Condover Parish Councillor, representing the Ward of Ryton. In October 2018, it was agreed that, in honour of the Centenary of the Armistice, one Councillor from each of the four villages of our Parish would read the names of the WW1 soldiers from their village at the start of the November Parish Council meeting.
I knew that Ann spent time each week at Shrewsbury Archives researching aspects of Ryton so I approached her to ask if she could find the names of any other men from our village who had served. She cross checked the 1911 Census, the 1918 Electoral Roll and the 1919 Absent Voters’ list. From this she was able to identify a total of 24 men, including those of her own family. Six of these had died in battle. Further research revealed their details of enlisting; such as, regiment, rank and number and, in the case of those who died, their date of death. By searching local newspaper archives, the report of the death of one of our soldiers in the Wellington Journal was revealed.
Using this information, I drew up a Roll of Honour. We framed two copies which have now been placed in our Village Hall and the small Mission Church.
On Remembrance Sunday, I was invited to a Remembrance dinner in an adjacent village and was impressed to see that their hall had been decorated with photographs and brief details of their men who had served in the War. I mentioned this to Ann and suggested that we may be able to do something similar. From this, Ann used the Archives to research the families of our soldiers, where they lived, their employment and their lives after returning from war. She used various sources, such as Kelly’s Directory, Electoral Rolls and the 1939 Register.
This provided the basis for us to profile these men, not just as names on a Roll of Honour, but as real people who had been part of our community. Using this basic information and researching numerous websites (all listed in the booklet) I was able to build up a profile of where many of the soldiers and sailors served, the battles in which some had died and the conditions in which many of them were living while abroad. Using all the information we had gathered, I compiled the document, including a variety photographs, in preparation for printing.
During our research, we traced two other men who had served during the war and came to live in Ryton immediately after the war. They both took an active roll in our village and I was aware that one had been Chair of our Parish Council until his death. Hence, our list extended to 26 men!
Ann researched the medals awarded to each soldier and I researched the additional notes concerning qualification for these medals, discovering accidentally that the main Campaign Medals had been given amusing nicknames. We considered that this was worth adding to the booklet.
We became aware that many residents in Ryton were interested in what we were doing. In addition, Ryton has a lot of holiday cottages and we knew of one person who had travelled from New Zealand to trace his grandfather who had served and died in the War. As a result, I approached Condover Parish Council to ask if they would sponsor the publication as a Community Benefit project, which they agreed to do.
We are currently having more booklets printed and if you wish to obtain a copy, please contact Sue Mackay on 01743 719020. We ask for a donation of £5 which will be donated to ‘Help for Heroes’.
By Sue Mackay