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Remembered Today:

Whitchurch - Cardiff, War Memorial - One Man to Find


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In 2018, myself and Gwyn Prescott, both keen local historians, decided to compile a book that remembered the men from the Whitchurch Parish of northern Cardiff who fell during the First World War or died of wounds or disease in the immediate post-war period. The parish also included the neighbouring villages and areas of Llandaff North, Birchgrove, Rhiwbina and Tongwynlais. Gwyn had had many years of research behind him on Cardiff First World War casualties in general, so we were able to complete the book in time for the centenary commemorations in November 2018. The book is entitled 'In Proud & Honoured Memory'. 

 

In addition to the 125 First World War names on the memorial, we found almost another 100 who could have laid claim to being included, so we added them into the book also. Of the actual 125 named, we were unable to positively identify four of the men during our research. This was mainly due to them having fairly common names. Now, with the additional resource of the Western Front Association's remarkable work with War Pensions cards, three of those four men have been identified.

 

So, that just left one man to be 'found', and wouldn't you just know, it had to be the first man on the memorial: James H Aldridge. After more than five years or research, he is still eluding us. There is no-one on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site with the initials that fits and I have lost count of all the other avenues that we have pursued and come up with a blank. Variations on the spelling of his surname have been tried, local newspapers searched, deaths at home checked (through until 1922 when the cut off date for names was reached), all areas used by Ancestry and Find My Past checked etc, etc. Very frustrating. I should point out also that no regiments or corps etc are included with the casualty's name on the memorial. Mercantile Marine casualties are also included on the memorial.

 

Inevitably there are various discrepancies on the memorial regarding the spelling of names, and often middle names have been used as opposed to the first name of the casualty. In the main, second names are only given as initials. There is an Ernest Albert Aldridge who is one of the additional names that we found who could have been included on the monument, but it is hard to see how he could have been the man that we are looking for. The local records office and library do still have the minute book of the Parish Council War Memorial Committee, which has proven to be a fascinating read, but sadly no list of the men to be included on the memorial is included.

 

Could it be that the parents of James H Aldridge may have moved to Whitchurch from another area and requested that their son be included on the memorial, even though he may have lived elsewhere? Even if that were the case, no obvious candidate has been found in other parts of England and Wales. Could he have been of Scottish or Irish birth, where those records are not to be found quite so straightforwardly?

 

It appears that all avenues are now exhausted, and I am close to completing the second volume of the book that deals with 1939-45.

 

The purpose of this post is just to put the name of James H Aldridge out there in the research community, in the faint chance that he may be known to someone.

 

Thanks for your time.

 

Ceri Stennett

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Edited by CeriS
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To muddy the waters, your point about being named on more than one memorial rings true. One of the fallen of a parish local to me died at sea. He is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, on a plaque in his parents' local church, on that parish's Roll of Honour, and his grandmother, who had moved from the community to a Sussex village in the 1890s, caused him to be remembered on that village's WM as well.

That doesn't help much, so I'll have a look for James later and post anything useful.

Acknown

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