Gomersal’s heroes remembered in First World War exhibition

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An insightful display of stories, photographs and memorabilia from the First World War will open on the eve of the conflict’s centenary.

Gomersal and the Great War features tales of the village’s efforts between 1914 and 1918, which included housing Belgian refugees that came to the area.

Twelve researchers have worked since January to create an exhibition from material in archives, parish records and diaries using £1,900 from Liversedge and Gomersal Community Fund.

It opens on Sunday August 3 at the Gomersal Moravian Church in Quarry Road, 2pm-4pm.

The free exhibition will stay at the church until October before touring schools and churches during the four years of the centenary.

Project co-ordinator Joanne Catlow, 54, of Lower Lane, Little Gomersal, said: “The First World War had an impact on the lives of everyone across the globe and more than 70 Gomersal men lost their lives fighting in the armed forces.

“The local stories that have been uncovered by the volunteer researchers have been both fascinating and often very moving, and have shown how even the small village of Gomersal was greatly affected by the war.

“It’s about the personal stories – how Gomersal coped and how they helped.”

Belongings from the war years have been donated by residents, including Pam Jones, who had postcards and other objects from which villagers used to get news about the conflict.

The exhibition will also feature a mock war recruitment office, where people can be measured for uniforms, as well as music, a quiz and refreshments.

Joanne, who is part of the Little Gomersal Community Association, hopes people will come forward with more stories of the war’s later stages and called the exhibition a “work in progress.”

Other commemorative exhibitions are also due to open around the district.

The Spenborough branch of the Royal British Legion officially opens a display at Cleckheaton Library on Tuesday, which will be open to the public from the following day.

Compiled mainly by Charlie Turpin and Alan Cardwell, it was funded with a £3,400 area committee grant.

It will be opened by the now retired Major General Jonathan Shaw CBE. He is the grandson of Colonel Mowat, the officer commanding the Cleckheaton Territorials throughout the war who unveiled the town’s memorial in 1922.

Elsewhere, Spen Valley Historical Society is opening a display at Heckmondkwike Library on Saturday, 10am-4pm. It was partly researched using archive copies of the Spenborough Guardian and Heckmondwike Herald.

The exhibition includes the story of gunner Raymond Hirst, who died in London after suffering wounds in France and whose funeral at Heckmondwike United Reformed Church was attended by thousands of mourners lining the streets.