Historian of Brookwood Cemetery
Norwood and the Great War
Reflections on Miliary and Social History
By Peter Hodgkinson and John Clarke
Published by the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery, 2022
Paperback, with 400 pages, and 15 illustrations (mostly in colour)
Price: £15.00 (plus postage)
The result of much painstaking research, this 400-
Commemoration of those who died in the First World War changed significantly. Service personnel who died as a result of injuries received during combat or sickness were usually buried close to where they died. This left bereaved families back home in need of a focus for their mourning. Those who could afford to do so added inscriptions to existing memorials, reflecting the loss of a son or daughter who had died on active service. This book stands as a tribute to the sacrifices of service personnel and their families from South London in general and from Norwood in particular.
Regrettably, Lambeth Council carried out extensive, indiscriminate, illegal clearance operations in West Norwood Cemetery that continued until 1991, when they were stopped by order of the Southwark Consistory Court. The clearances swept away unrecorded many thousands of gravestones including some that marked the locations of ‘war graves’. Fortunately, and perceptively, the late Eric Smith FSA recorded the inscriptions of many, but by no means all, of these now lost monuments.
Detailed study of these and other records has enabled the authors to compile as detailed a picture as is now possible of the sacrifices made by the individuals and families of Norwood and South London as recorded originally in the cemetery. Not only were there burials (and some cremations) of those who died on active service, but also many hundreds of those who gave their lives overseas and who were recorded on family memorials. 38% of these have no known grave.
Such is the scope of this project that the book cannot illustrate all those commemorated within its 400 pages. Therefore a special webpage devoted to Great War Connections has been added to the Friends of West Norwood Cemetery website at www.fownc.org/gwc/ Here you can find a spreadsheet giving key information concerning the 595 servicemen or women who died either during, or after the war of service-
A comprehensive review of this book may be found on the Western Front Association’s website.