A village’s campaign to remember its war dead

Plan for Bradfield Combust's war memorial
Plan for Bradfield Combust's war memorial

An antiques shop find has led to Bradfield Combust getting a war memorial in time for the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War One.

There are two plaques in the village’s All Saints Church recording the village’s eight dead of the two world wars, but they will unveil a granite plaque next to the village sign on the first weekend of August.

The project began when retired RAF wing commander Andy Tucker, who saw action as a Tornado navigator in the first Gulf War, bought a World War One soldier’s death plaque in an Essex shop.

He recalls: “I decided to research the individual, Private Charles Nunn, and it turned out he was born in Dickleburgh in Norfolk.

“Having researched Private Nunn’s story I then decided to research the four from Bradfield Combust lost in WW1.”

He found that Pte James Ernest Culling, of 9th Battallion, Suffolk Regiment, was born in 1894 and the 1901 census recordedhis family living in Bradfield. He died on October 20, 1915, when the 9th were in the Battle of Loos, and is buried at Ypres, Belgium.

Pte Harry William Gault, was born in Bradfield Combust in 1890. He died on September 25, 1917, when his unit, 8th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, was in the Battle of the Menin Road Bridge. Pte Gault is also buried at Ypres.

Pte A J Smith was born in Hayton, Lancashire but enlisted in Bury St Edmunds, serving first with the Norfolk Regiment, then the Machinegun Corps, which was formed in October 1915. Andy is trying to find out how old he was when he died on June 6, 1918. He is buried at Muille-Villette, Somme, France.

Second Lt Joseph Makin was serving with the 1st Battalion of the New Zealand Wellington Regiment, but he was the son of Leonard and Priscilla Makin of Bradfield. He died, aged 30, on September 30, 1918, when the 1st was at the Battle of Canal du Nord. His grave is at Cambrai, France.

Andy suggested a war memorial to Bradfield Combust and Staningfield Parsh Council two years ago and has become a parish councillor. He welcomes the way the community has backed the plan.

They already have about £1,800 of the £2,200 needed, from donations and Suffolk County Council cash. The Manger in Bradfield and Red House pub in Staningfield, are raffling a picture of the Suffolk Regiment at Nueve, aand it is a Bury Waitrose ‘green token’ charity this month.

But Andy has not managed to find relatives of the men, including the WW2 four, Sgt D W Savoy, RAF; Sgt G H Savoy, RAF; Pte W Middleditch, Suffolk Regt and Tpr B F Talbott, Royal Armoured Corps.

“It would be nice to invite them to the unveiling,” he said. If you are related, contact Andy at andrewtucker7@btinternet.com