Researcher brings Sheffield World War One soldiers’ stories to life

Picured at the War Memorial next to Eckington Parish Church is historian Simon Goodwin (right) who is tracing the history of 500 people from the Eckington area that died fighting during both world wars, alongside Edward Tomlinson whoese great uncle Wilfred Tomlinson died in Le Havre, France, in 1919
Picured at the War Memorial next to Eckington Parish Church is historian Simon Goodwin (right) who is tracing the history of 500 people from the Eckington area that died fighting during both world wars, alongside Edward Tomlinson whoese great uncle Wilfred Tomlinson died in Le Havre, France, in 1919
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A mammoth project by an amateur historian has chronicled the details of hundreds of men who fought and died in both world wars.

Simon Goodwin has spent the last four years on a quest to identify more than 500 men from around south Sheffield and part of north Derbyshire named on local war memorials.

Simon has been researching soldiers killed in World War One and Two and two men who died in the Falklands conflict of 1982.

He started his project four years ago while staying with his parents, Barrie and Shirley, as he recovered from an accident that left him on crutches for seven months.

Simon, a member of the Western Front Association, said: “It was an exercise to keep me focused on something and sane while I recovered.

“I had been to a previous Remembrance service in Eckington Church and was surprised at how many times only initials and not first names were known and read out for the casualties. From there, I just got carried away.”

Having recorded the names on each War Memorial, Simon, aged 45, who works as an accountant, carried out his research mainly using online sources such as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and another database, Soldiers Died In The Great War.

He has also found additional information in books, including one about soldiers shot at dawn for various offences during World War One, such as desertion.

So far, Simon has managed to find out details of almost 400 of the Eckington Parish soldiers.

But research on a further 120 is still to be completed.

He said: “I have now completed looking for information in all the most obvious places. I would be interested to hear from anyone else who comes forward with more information or photographs of any of the men.”

Among those grateful to Simon for his research is Edward Tomlinson, whose great uncle Wilfred Tomlinson died in Le Havre, France, in February 1919, three months after the end of hostilities.

Guardsman Tomlinson, of First Battalion the Grenadier Guards, was aged 21 when he died. His parents were Alfred and Rebecca Tomlinson, of Eckington, and he was buried at Sainte Marie Cemetery, Le Havre.

Simon’s research

Private Alfred Harris, aged 31, who was born in Killamarsh, was given the Distinguished Conduct Medal and died in 1917.

Pte Harris, of the Sherwood Foresters, was married to Lizzie Harris and lived in Clay Cross. He was buried at Mendingham Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Others include Pte Wilfrid Sanders, born at Malin Bridge but who lived in Halfway, and was a member of Second Battalion the Border Regiment.

Details uncovered include his parents’ names – Noah and Mary Ann, of Wisewood Lane, Malin Bridge – date of death, February 27, 1917, and his age, 32.

Pte Sanders’ body was never recovered and he is among 70,000 named on the Thiepval Memorial to those killed in the Somme area.

The soldier shot at dawn was Private Alfred Haddock, of Eckington, whose parents were from Tinsley Park. He was executed on September 16, 1916, aged 32, and buried at Vielle-Chapelle New Military Cemetery, France.

Contact Simon at eckingtonwarmemorial@gmail.com.