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Not forgotten: University to add names to war memorial

Wilfred Owen

To mark the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War, the names of nine staff and students who lost their lives as a result of the conflict are to be added to the University’s war memorial at its historical London Road campus.

The missing names, which include the famous war poet, Wilfred Owen, were recently discovered by volunteer researchers at the University’s Special Collections archive. As part of the "Reading Connections" Project, which first started in 2013 and is funded by the Arts Council England, researchers were analysing archives around the theme of commemorating the First World War.

The University’s iconic clock tower memorial, formally dedicated on 7 June 1924, lists those fallen servicemen with a connection to what was then called Reading University College.

Our UK campuses will have a service of remembrance to mark Armistice Day, starting at 10:45, finishing at approximately 11:05 at the following locations:

  • London Road campus: Peace Garden
  • Greenlands campus: flagpole near the cattle grid
  • Whiteknights campus: flagpole between the Library and Whiteknights House 

Everyone is welcome to attend this memorial at the location most convenient to them.

In addition, the University Archives holds a volume containing photographs of many of those who died during the First World War. As part of the project, this was digitised and made available via Flickr along with a brief service and personal history, as well as information on the connection of each person to the College, if known. The information came largely from 1911 census records, WWI service records, War Graves Commission records and the University of Reading Archive. Many people responded to this and added details to the Flickr site.

As the research work continued, volunteer Jeremy Jones discovered that some names had been omitted from the clock tower, the book, or both.

On Friday 9 November 2018, as part of the usual Armistice Day memorial events that take place across all UK campuses, the names of these nine staff and students will be read aloud to honour the sacrifice they made for their country. Jeremy Jones will lay the wreath at the London Road campus service.

These memorial services will also be an opportunity to acknowledge colleagues and students who have passed away over the last year.

Guy Baxter, Associate Director of Archives Services at the University of Reading said: “The University is proud to finally recognise the names of these men who bravely fought in the First World War.

“Although the College at the time was small, keeping track of every past student and staff member was not an easy task, and it is perhaps inevitable that there were some names that were missed, primarily through a lack of information, or what we might call the ‘fog of war’.

“The research work continues and more names may be uncovered and added. Some will forever remain unknown, but their sacrifice made a century or more ago, is not diminished by that.

“If the first casualty of war is the truth, then by adding these names we hope to make some recompense by painting a more truthful picture of the extent of the sacrifice made by our forebears.”

 A plaque containing the nine names will be unveiled at the London Road campus later this year. The following names will be added:

  • Frederick Wallis Aubrey: Born c. 1884 in Bradfield, Berkshire. Employed at Wantage Hall, described as a “waiter” or “servant”. Served in 4th Btn Royal Berkshire Regiment. Died 16th August 1917. Buried in New Irish Farm Cemetery, Belgium.
  • Richard Herbert Howell Biddulph: Born 1889 in London, Ontario, Canada. One of twelve local men who joined the Officer Training Corps at Reading University College on the outbreak of war, although not a student at the college (he had a degree from McGill University, Montreal and is on their honour roll). Served in the Royal Berkshire Regiment and the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (Eastern Ontario Regiment). Died 5th July 1917 at Avion. Buried in La Targette British Cemetery, Neuville-St. Vaast, France.
  • Charles Henry Thomas Flint: Born 1900 in Reading. Employed as a “laboratory boy” at Reading University College. Served as an apprentice in what was to become the Merchant Navy.  Died 11th April 1916 at the Royal Hospital, Melcombe Regis. Buried in London Road Cemetery, Reading.
  • Wilfred Edward Salter Owen MC: Born 1893 in Shropshire. Famous as one of the leading poets of the Great War, Wilfred Owen attended Reading University College briefly in 1912. Served with the Artists’ Rifles and the Manchester Regiment, earning the Military Cross. Died 4th November 1918. Buried in Ors Communal Cemetery, France. Named in the Reading University College memorial book.
  • John Wilmot Mackenzie Palk: Born c. 1874. Attended a course in the Faculty of Agriculture in 1905. In 1914 he was living in New Zealand but served in the Black Watch (Royal Highlanders). Died 16th November 1916. Buried in Contay British Cemetery, France.
  • Francis Edgar Pearse: Born 1891 in Tottenham. Awarded a Borough of Reading Minor Scholarship in Arts for the 1909-10 and 1910-11 sessions to study at Reading University College. Served in the Royal Berkshire Regiment. Died 3rd October 1916. Buried in Euston Road Cemetery, Colincamps, France. Named in the Reading University College memorial book.
  • Percy Leigh Pemberton: Born 1886. Studied in the Faculty of Agriculture during the 1905-06 session. Served in the Middlesex Regiment. Died 27th February 1916. Buried in St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen, France.
  • Thomas Albany Troward: Born 1881 in India. Studied Fine Arts, 1902-06. By 1915 he was living in New Zealand where he enlisted and served in the Auckland Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Died 21stMay 1918. Buried in the Wellington (Karori) Cemetery, New Zealand.
  • Frederick Charles Wenham: Born 1889 in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.  Studied in the Faculty of Letters, passing the Final Examination for the Diploma in Letters in 1912 and being made an Associate of the College in May 1913. A member of the Officer Training Corps. Served in the King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment). Died 20th November 1917. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France and in the National Union of Teachers War Record. 

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