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New history honours local heroes of WW1

Council Leader Sybil Ralphs has been presented with one of just ten hand-stitched leather bound history volumes documenting the daily events and detailing the names of over 5,800 individuals from North Staffordshire who served in World War 1.

Local historian Levison Wood Senior and his wife Janice, from Forsbrook, have spent the last four and half years researching the 5th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment Territorial Force - the fore runner to the 2nd Battalion Mercian Regiment TAVR which Mr Wood served in during the 1970s and 80s and which gave him the inspiration to document his forebears.

The husband and wife team researched the Battalion's war diary, local contemporary newspapers and met current family members to locate where, how, and in many cases, detail why every one of the 965 fatalities occurred throughout the war. Each grave that became their last resting place or memorial on which they have been recorded has been visited and, in many cases, a photographic record taken of the battlefield on which they fell resulting in many individual deaths being mapped to the very detail of date, location and time.

And six visits to France and Belgium, plus numerous visits to the Public Records Office in Kew and countless hours spent at the libraries in Leek, Hanley and Newcastle,  Mr and Mrs Wood have presented their two-volume history to each of the local councils that acted as recruiting offices for volunteers.

Councillor Sybil Ralphs, Leader of the Council, received the volumes from Alderman William Day and Mr Wood on behalf of Moorlands residents at a ceremony at the Nicholson Museum and Art Gallery in Leek.

She said: "I was honoured to welcome the authors of this history, and to receive this impressive but sobering volume, of all 5,800 men from North Staffordshire, including many from the Moorlands, who bravely served and paid ultimate sacrifice by not returning home.

"To receive it as we mark the centenary of the end of the First World War is a moving and fitting tribute to our local heroes and I'd like to say thank you to Alderman Day, Levison and Janice who have dedicated themselves to documenting this important chapter of our recent past.

"The Festival of Remembrance this year has had a special significance and I have been particularly struck by the will, which is as strong as ever, to never forget and to honour all those affected by war and who serve in our armed forces past and present. I know we shall continue to do just that in the Moorlands."

The presentation was also attended by the Mayors of Biddulph, Cheadle and Leek, representatives from the British Legion and historian Cath Walton.

Publication of these latest volumes follows a previous work undertaken by members of the Historical Society based in Blythe Bridge in 2014 in which they documented the fatalities recorded on the War Memorials in Blythe, Forsbrook and Dilhorne.

That particular volume, titled 'Lest we Forget', was published with financial assistance from Alderman Day to mark the anniversary of the start of the Great War. Alderman Day, along with other councillors, has also supported the publication of the ten volumes of the most recent work.

Mr Wood added: "Working on this history, and our previous members' volume, has been a labour of love. These latest two volumes feature over 1,000 pages, with hundreds of thought lost and recently located photographs, and we hope that together they will be a resource reference work worthy of our brave local men who sacrificed their all and still lie on the Western Front."