WHILE Barnsley prepares itself to remember local lives lost at war next weekend there are 98 men in danger of being forgotten – prompting a local historian to call for their names to be honoured.
The memorial paying tribute to Holgate Grammar’s ‘Old Boys’ was, since the Shaw Lane school’s closure in 2012, held within Horizon Community College before being passed on to Barnsley Council in 2017.
It’s understood to have been kept it in storage at the town hall since but historian Jane Ainsworth – who spearheaded the restoration of the 13th (First Barnsley) and 14th York and Lancaster Regiments ‘Barnsley Pals’ colours at St Mary’s Church in the town centre – is on a quest to give them the remembrance they deserve.
The memorial is to be put on public display again at Shaw Lane Sports Club as soon as ‘various issues’ are resolved, according to Jane.
She added: “I was pleased to involve ex-Holgate pupils Melvyn Lunn and Ian Harley in this project before the pandemic started.
“They share my keenness to get the memorial back on display and they carried out research into the 98 men, which will be made available in Shaw Lane Sports Club.
“Melvyn, Ian and I recently held a meeting at the club with David Clayton, manager, Fiona Hall, community engagement officer, and Mick Dewsnap, trustee, to discuss the best location for the large war memorial.
“We now need to liaise with the council about moving it, ascertain how much it will cost and raise the funds.
“We may be able to apply for a grant but would also welcome donations from individuals and groups.
“We also intend to carry on the Holgate tradition of reading out the names on the memorial on Remembrance Sunday.
“This poignant ceremony started with the First World War memorial in 1919 then included the Second World War memorial from 1945.
“We hope that any relations of the men listed on the memorial will get in touch – we would like to add photos and other memorabilia to their stories and create a display.”
The group have been searching the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and Barnsley Archives and found information about the majority of the men listed.
However, despite getting off to a great start, research has slowed and the group is appealing for anyone with any information about the men on the memorial to help the group with their research.
Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley Central, said: “I am delighted that the memorial has finally found a permanent new home.
“I am impressed by the tenacity and dedication of Jane and the Old Boys Association to ensure the memory of the 98 brave men, who gave their lives whilst serving our country, is not lost and this important piece of history is available for current and future generations to see.
“I plan to visit Shaw Lane Sports Club to see the war memorial in its new home and pay my respects to the Old Boys who made the ultimate sacrifice.”