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Abandoned war memorial finds a new home at St Giles

A forgotten war memorial has finally found a new home on the wall of St Giles Church in the tiny village of Packwood.

The abandoned war memorial tablet found at Packwood, Solihull.
The abandoned war memorial tablet found at Packwood, Solihull.

A forgotten war memorial has finally found a new home on the wall of St Giles Church in the tiny village of Packwood.

The Chessetts Wood memorial plaque was discovered in a builder’s yard in Chapel Lane after Alan Loach and his brother Graham decided to clear out their father’s old site in 2009.

It honours four local heroes, who all worked or lived in the area, and lost their lives fighting for Queen and country in World War I.

The plaque is thought to have hung in the mission chapel at the junction of Yew Tree Lane before it was converted into a private home.

Mr Loach, who now lives in Helperby, in Yorkshire, said: “We were very surprised to find it.

“The yard hadn’t been touched for more than twenty years since (my father) died.

“When I uncovered it, the top corner came away in my hand. I thought ‘that’s a nice piece of moulding.’ So I cleared the ivy away and that’s when these names became apparent.

“We’re not quite sure where the stone was before my father had it. Possibly my dad knew the gentleman who bought the old chapel and said he’d deal with it but he was in very ill health and wasn’t able to carry it out. So it’s laid here all this time.

“It would have been a substantial cost to create this stone memorial at a time when money was very tight. These men were obviously well cherished in the area.”

The 62 year-old ex-Royal Engineer, wrote to the Royal Fusiliers Museum to try to find the plaque a new home.

Four years and £1,000 later, thanks to the generosity of local parishioners, it will be officially rededicated by the Bishop of Aston, Rev Andrew Watson on Sunday (April 27).

The plaque names Royal Warwickshire Regiment Lance Corporals Joseph Andrews and John Cotterell, both locals who died aged 20 and 34 respectively and Private Stanley Holt, a labourer at Yew Tree House, who died aged just 17.

Private Alexander Astle, of the Hampshire Regiment, who worked on Valley Farm before he was killed, aged 41, is also honoured.

All men have marked graves in Belgium and France.

The plaque reads: “Remember Christ those who died in the Great War 1914-1919 and especially the men of Chessetts Wood.

“The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God. They are in peace.”

Church council member Derek Bush welcomed the ceremony saying: “The four men on this memorial had their lives cut short by war and it deserves a permanent place.”

 

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