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Hitchin at War

Introduction

(Amended from the book ‘HITCHIN's CENTURY OF SACRIFICE’)

When you go home, tell them of us and say:

"For your tomorrow we gave our today".


The original purpose of this book was to record the stories of the men and women who lost their lives in the service of the country throughout the 20th Century and whose names are shown on the principal Hitchin War Memorials. However, as the research progressed, a number of casualties were noticed who are either not mentioned on these Memorials and yet have some association with Hitchin, or are on the Memorials but have no apparent connection with Hitchin. I have therefore included them all, though in many cases there is less detail available.


Where mention is made of a unit's activity on or about the date of death, the reader must consider the possibility that the casualty may have been many miles away dying from an accident or illness. Even if the action was close to where the casualty was buried it is still only a probability that the two incidents are related. Add to that, it was frequently necessary especially after the wars, to move bodies to concentrate the cemeteries to places where they could be accessed and properly maintained. This was often many miles from where the death originally occurred, making identification with a particular action even more difficult.


Undoubtedly there are a few Hitchin casualties whose names do not appear in the book. With the passing of time the stories become increasingly difficult to compile and sadly a few are unlikely ever to be found. Also in those cases where stories vary according to the source, I have usually hidden behind "the fog of war" and made little attempt to reconcile conflicting versions.


It is also a sad fact that, regardless of country, those who suffer and die from the fighting are seldom those who incite what politicians of both sides describe as "righteous" wars. With this in mind, at the back of the book I have included the two German casualties of the Second World War who are buried in Hitchin Cemetery.


Time like an ever-rolling stream

bears all its sons away

They fly forgotten as a dream

dies at the opening day.


Also, it would be incredible if some errors have not crept in, quite apart from those inadvertently created by the present compiler. The sources of information have been many and varied including individuals, families, record offices, libraries, institutions, writers and publishers across the land and I am grateful to them all.


And some there be, which have no memorial;

who are perished as though they had never been.

Their bodies are buried in peace;

but their name liveth for evermore.


We should also remember the far greater and unrecognised number of men and women and their families, often scarred in mind and body, who survived the conflicts.


They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,

We will remember them.


Before the stories of the casualties I have included a chronological index of names by date of death which readers may find helpful.


This is the second edition of this book, a great deal of information having been added since the first edition of ten copies in 1996 which was issued primarily for researchers.

David C Baines


Extra Information / Special Notices:

David C Baines - The originator of this project without whom it would not exist.


Paul Johnson - Local Historian

Acknowledgments:

The Second Boer War Casualty

More information may be available at www.hertsatwar.co.uk/hitchin

The First World War

The Second World War