Wotton-under-Edge remembers those that fell

Gazette Series: Wotton historian Bill Griffiths, right, with a copy of his book First World War Heroes of Wotton-under-Edge and editor Stuart Braidford, remembers the sacrifice made by those from the town in the First World War (8094908) Wotton historian Bill Griffiths, right, with a copy of his book First World War Heroes of Wotton-under-Edge and editor Stuart Braidford, remembers the sacrifice made by those from the town in the First World War (8094908)

A HISTORIAN from Wotton-under-Edge has recounted the loss the town suffered during the First World War as the centenary of the great conflict approaches.

Retired Katharine Lady Berkeley’s School teacher and author of First World War Heroes of Wotton-under-Edge, Bill Griffiths, spoke the gazette about The great War had on the town.

At the time, there was around 4,000 people living in Wotton and 710 went overseas to help with the war effort.

Unfortunately, 114 did not return.

One of the tragedies was to befall the Jotcham family, after three of five sons to Frederick and Elizabeth died in France

One of them was Herbert, a 29-year-old private in the North Midlands Field Ambulance whose job it was to carry the dead and wounded from the battlefield.

He died of his wounds in 1917 in France.

Later his brother Fred, a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Engineers would die aged 25 in 1918.

Lance Corporal William Jotcham of the East Surrey regiment would also die in 1918, aged just 27.

The father to four-year-old Olive was killed in action in France and his name is on the Arras Memorial in France.

For Mr Griffiths, 75, who lived in Wotton for 22 years before moving to Chipping Sodbury, the effect that events he researched in his book must have had on the family is hard to contemplate.

“I can’t imagine the effect on the family it must have been horrendous,” he said.

“No other families in Wotton who had three boys killed in the same war. It was very tragic, three boys all gone.

“The problem was the families wouldn’t find out definitely if their sons died for months because sometimes the body would be not be found on the battlefield for a long time.”

Because it was such a small community, Mr Griffiths said the grief when each man died was wide-spread.

“Wotton’s population was 4,000 people so all the lads would have been known by the town because half a dozen could be from the same street,” he said.

“The effect would have been wide-ranging.”

The names of the 710 men who served in the First World War from Wotton-under-Edge are available to see in the town hall on Market Street.

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