WWI centenary: Booklet that honours the fallen is on sale

LASTING TRIBUTE Jane Roberts with the booklets she has produced. (d523b426)
LASTING TRIBUTE Jane Roberts with the booklets she has produced. (d523b426)

A booklet honouring the fallen World War I soldiers from St Mary’s Church in Batley is now on sale to the public.

It’s the work of Jane Roberts, who spent more than three years researching the lives and military history of the 76 men listed on the parish’s World War I Memorial.

The booklet, which was originally only available to view in Batley Library, contains biographies for each of the men.

Proceeds will be donated to the St Mary’s roof appeal fund and the Royal British Legion.

Mrs Roberts, a lifelong parishioner at St Mary’s, said: “The response has been fantastic. I’ve had people from all over the world get in touch.” It’s been something of a labour of love for Mrs Roberts, who has a history degree and is currently studying for a genealogy qualification.

She said: “Since childhood I’ve been fascinated by the names on the memorial and wanted to find out more about the men behind the names.

“I visited France on several occasions to take photographs of the gravestones and relatives from the families have also contributed.”

Mrs Roberts explained that some of the biographies were more complete than others. “It varies as a lot of service records were destroyed in World War II, so sometimes you need to use a lot of different sources of information. “Some just have the basic details but others are six or seven pages long.”

Included in the booklet is the story of Batley rugby league player Robert Randerson, who is believed to be first Northern Union star to receive a commission as an officer in the Army.

It also features Thomas Foley, who is thought to be the first Batley man to be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.

Bleak House Community Centre offered to print the booklets, which are available for £10 for the complete booklet, and £2.50 for alphabetised volumes.

Contact Bleak House by emailing sales@bleakhousefamilyhistory.co.uk or calling 01924 950229.

You can also buy a copy from Mrs Roberts by emailing jane.roberts65@btinternet.com or calling 07714 203891.