Remembering the fallen as significance of war memorials examined

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From humble plaques, to grand statues in towns, villages and hamlets. Many of us pass war memorials everyday.

Most have stood for more than a century honouring those who gave their lives for their country.

For Paul Goodwin they hold a very special interest.

The military historian said: “From the First World War the soldiers went off to battle and the bodies were not allowed to come back, at least after the first couple of months.

"Because they were not brought back there was no grave and no place to go and mourn the dead. At that time it was not about all of the names on the memorial. It was where families would come to remember their one or two names.

"In this memorial the McCheyne family came to visit four brothers. It was just their personal thing then it came to be about remembrance and in the Second World War their names were added.

Many of us pass war memorials everyday. Credit: ITV

"It is also a point of education and is a source for family history research. Unfortunately a lot of records for servicemen from the First World War were destroyed in the Blitz in the Second World War. Well over half of them don’t exist anymore. Very often a war memorial is the only way to see if someone ever served.

Paul is a founding member of the Scottish military research group. They’re a band of volunteers trying to make sure war memorials are about much more than just a list of names, regiments and dates.

Paul added: “I claimed Dumfries and Galloway as my patch. I went round recording them all. At the time I became interested in 2006 in this area there were 193 war memorials on record. Since I started I have discovered there are over 550.

“I am really interested in inspiring other people. I want to keep it in the public eye and I think it is an important part of children’s education. If we don’t teach them why these things are here and what the importance is they won’t learn about the effects of war.

"It is satisfying that you are bringing their truth of who these people were back to sometimes family and sometimes complete strangers. I find that there is a genuine interest from all ages. They are not that interested in a list of names it is who they were as people."

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