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Message from a Somme Casualty’s Great Nephew Leads to Special Memorial Service

Gunner White

Gunner Alfred White of the Royal Field Artillery

A message from a great nephew of a local soldier, killed in the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago, has led to a special memorial service held on Thursday (June 30) at the small St Francis Church in Littleton.

The service conducted by Father Andrew Norman of St Nicolas Church, Guildford was attended by around 40 people including Ralph Hodd, great-nephew of Gunner Alfred White.

Ralph had contacted Artington Parish Council clerk, Phil Gorton, in May to enquire whether his great-uncle’s name appeared on the war memorial in the chapel.

When Phil was able to confirm that it did, and Ralph advised that, by chance, he and his wife would be visiting Guildford from the Isle of Wight on June 30, it was decided to hold a service of remembrance at St Francis for Alfred White and his eight comrades.

St Francis Great Wat Memorial

St Francis Great War Memorial

Roger Musson, a member of the Artington Parish Council said: “As the framed war memorial hangs inside the chapel, and services are now only held there once or twice a year, the nine men of the parish who gave their lives in the First World War are sadly less well remembered than those named on other war memorials.

“The opportunity was therefore been taken to address this omission in some small way on the occasion of 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme and in the presence of relatives of one of those named on the St Francis war memorial.

The service in St Francis Church, Littleton was attended by around 30 people.

The service in St Francis Church, Littleton was attended by around 40 people.

“We are grateful to Ralph Hodd and his mother, who was unable to travel from the Isle of Wight, for  providing the information about Alfred White, and to all those who have generously spared their time and helped in many ways that enabled this service to take place.”

Gunner White's home on the Old Portsmouth Road in Artington.

Gunner White’s home on the Old Portsmouth Road in Artington.

The service was attended by relatives of Gunner Alfred White, local residents, Michael More-Molyneux (Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey) and representatives of the Royal British Legion and SSAFA Forces Help.

St Francis, Littleton

St Francis Chapel, Littleton.

During the service Ralph Hodd spoke about his great-uncle, a regular soldier who had joined up several years before the outbreak of the First World War, and recited the poem Western Front by Alfred Noyes.

Michael More-Molyneux then spoke of his emotional experience when he visited war graves on The Somme earlier this year with guides who recounted the part played by the local Queen’s Regiment, in which members of his family had served.

Martin Dibb-Fuller, a student at the Royal Grammar School and a member of the Surrey County Youth Wind Orchestra, played Last Post and Reveille to mark the beginning and end of a one minute silence.

The Lord Lieutenant for Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux, Cadet Isobel ... and

The Lord-Lieutenant for Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux, Cadet Isobel Duveen Conway, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the great-nephew of Gnr White, Ralph Hodd.

After the service members of the congregation were invited to join Ralph Hodd and his wife for refreshments at Ye Olde Ship Inn, St Catherine’s.

See also: Service To Commemorate Battle Of The Somme

 

 

 

 

 

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