New Arlesford Photograph by Rosemary Oakeshott

St. John’s, New Alresford ringers doing their bit to REMEMBER.

At St. John’s, New Alresford, the ringers have an ongoing project to ring a quarter peal in the months one hundred years on from the death of any Alresford man named on the war memorial in the church. So far we have rung 23 quarter peals for forty of those named.

This project started with the publication of a book, ‘Not Just A Name’, researched and written by Glenn Gilbertson. This book is a fantastic resource document of the personal, family and service records of all those who served in the armed services and were killed in the 20th century who lived or had links with the Alresford SO24 postal area. There are details in the book of battles, photos of men and places, locations of cemeteries where the men were buried or for those with no known grave, the specific memorial where the name is recorded.

Glenn Gilbertson, a personal friend, printed out the list of names and dates of deaths for all those men who died in WWI whose names appear on the war memorial in St. John’s Church. Thus, when planning quarter peals, all I need do is reference the names each month and write out a piece for our parish magazine, taking the details of each man from the book. Next is to assemble a band of 8 ringers for a quarter peal. Luckily there are two evening services each month at St. John’s. The choral evensong is the most appropriate service and the quarter peal is publicised in the notice sheet for that week with brief details of the men to be commemorated. A quarter scored, the details are then sent for publication in the Ringing World. Alresford residents are very appreciative of the bells. We quite often receive kind comments for our efforts.

Currently, we have two young recruits who have just started to ring at St. John’s and have been signed up for the ‘Ringing Remembers’ project. By a strange coincidence, on a recent tower tidy-up morning, we came across a piece of board that was unearthed in 2013 in the clock case. Written in pencil, on a rough piece of board was the following:
“C.B. Eddoll and W.H. Jackson organised a peal of eight young ringers in order to fill up the gaps left by those who joined the colours in the great war against Germany in 1914.
First peal rung by the young ringers was on 8 February 1916. The bells, rung by the young ringers are marked on the bells on the board on the wall near the treble bell”

Unfortunately, we were not able to locate the names. Guild reports for the relevant years throw no light on them either. There was only one ringer from Alresford who we know to have been killed and that was William James Curtis, DCM. He died on 18 April 1918. He and his father, Walter were both guild members in 1909.
Sgt. Curtis’ name is on the memorial in Winchester Cathedral’s ringing chamber as well as in St. John’s Church. He was buried in Cambrin Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais.

We hope that our two new ringers will be worthy successors: St. John’s, New Alresford ringers doing their bit to REMEMBER.

Elizabeth Johnson, tower secretary
St. John the Baptist, New Alresford

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