Soldier reflecting on his fate in Stockton-on-the-Forest church moves visitor to tears

Terry Briggs of Stockton-on-the-Forest with the First World War soldier in the pews at Holy Trinity Church

Terry Briggs of Stockton-on-the-Forest with the First World War soldier in the pews at Holy Trinity Church

First published in News
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A SOLDIER sits pensively before the altar at a village church near York in July 1914, as the First World War approaches.

This poignant scene has been created at Holy Trinity Church in Stockton-on-the-Forest as part of an exhibition to be staged at the weekend by the Stockton-on-the-Forest and Hopgrove local history group.

One of the organisers, Joy Moseley, said a mannequin had been dressed in the 1914 uniform of a British soldier provided by a collector of military memorabilia from the village, Gary Hancock.

"The soldier has been called up and is thinking of the family he will leave behind and what is to come for him," she said.

"It's quite moving really. One lady in her 90s was moved to tears, because it looked like her husband with his uniform on during the Second World War."

She said the soldier had been nicknamed Uncle Percy, as one of the group's members, Terry Briggs, had a great uncle Percy who fought and died in the war and was on a memorial elsewhere.

Joy said the exhibition featured items such as enlistment papers, letters home from the front and photographs, and relied on extensive research by member John Strong into the backgrounds of the 12 soldiers whose names are listed on the village's war memorial in front of the church.

It questioned why three of the men were on the memorial, because they had no known connections with Stockton-on-the-Forest.

It also looked at another five men whose names the group believed should have gone on the memorial, because records showed they came from the village and died in the war, but for some reason didn't, such as Harold Bratley, who was born in the village and baptised in the church.

She appealed for people to come and share their family memories of the war, and unravel some of the mysteries from the memorial.

The exhibition runs from 10am to 4pm on Saturday and from 11.30am to 4pm on Sunday.

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