There are ten names on the War Memorial in the churchyard - eight from the First World War and two from the Second.
Of the eight men who died in the First World War, there are two sets of brothers.
Frederick and Alfred Baker were the sons of George and Louisa Baker who, at the time of the 1911 census, resided at Church Farm, Westhorpe. Both boys were agricultural labourers and we know for sure that the younger Alfred joined up right at the beginning of the war in August 1914. As both of them were enlisted in the 2ndBattalion, Suffolk Regiment, I think it is safe to suppose they both joined up together. Frederick died on 1st February, 1917 and is buried in Tincourt Cemetery, Peronne, France.
His younger brother, Alfred, was killed later that year in June aged just 23 years and his name is on the Arras Memorial in France, one of the many soldiers who have no known grave.
Thomas and Robert Moss were the sons of William and Emily Moss of Town Yard and also enlisted in the Suffolk Regiment. Both of these men were agricultural labourers residing in Westhorpe. Robert, the youngest, died of disease on 29th January, 1917 aged 26 years and he is buried on the Somme. Thomas was killed later that year in September and is buried at Loos.
Robert Sykes of Rookery Farm enlisted in the 15th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment. . Robert was killed on 18thJanuary, 1917 aged 25 years and is buried in Belgium.
Charles Fountain was a little older. A married man with one child living, he farmed with his two brothers at West Farm. He probably also responded early to the call to arms and died in November 1915 on the Somme aged 35 years. He is buried in the Albert Communal Cemetery in France.
William Seeley was the son of Elias and Isabella Seeley of Town Yard. He was a member of this church and the register records the calling of his marriage banns in the Spring of 1916. He was employed as a horseman in Westhorpe and he lived with his bride Alice in Walsham-le-Willows. William enlisted in June 1916 soon after his marriage and was killed in April1917 aged just 21 years old. He is buried in France and his name appears also on the Walsham-le-Willows war memorial.
Harry Davey, a married man, whose parents lived in The Street is also commemorated. Harry was in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and on the 4th May, 1917 the transport ship on which he was sailing from Marseille to Alexandria, the Transylvania, was torpedoed and he was reported missing, believed drowned. Harry was aged 30 years and his name is also remembered on the Savona Memorial in Italy.
The men who died in the Second World War are:
Arthur Williams who held the rank of gunner in the Royal Artillery. A married man, he was the son of George and Alice Williams and was 28 when he died. He is buried in the Yokohama War Cemetery in Japan and is likely to have been a prisoner of war.
Gerald Kemp also lies far from home and was a casualty of the last few days of the war in Italy. He is commemorated at Udine War Cemetery, north-east of Venice. Gerald was the son of Ernest and Alice Kemp of Westhorpe and was just 22 years old when he died in June 1945.
It is all too apparent from this research that Westhorpe in 1917 particularly must have been a very sad place. Of our eight young men lost in WWI, six of them died during that year and in two families, they lost two sons. When we listen to the list of names read out in November, we can get a clearer understanding of their great sacrifice.
The accounts above were compiled by Clive and Rosemary Mees who in the summer of 2010 on a glorious June afternoon visited the grave of Frederick Baker. They recall a peaceful scene with swallows swooping and darting over the fields of ripening wheat; skylarks singing above in the clear blue sky. Frederick may have been a long way from Westhorpe but this landscape would not have been unfamiliar to him.
They also visited the Albert Communal Cemetery and found the grave of Charles Fountain in a row of men from the Suffolks; several from the local area, one of whom came from Kiln Farm, Great Ashfield. It is good to think of him lying alongside friends.
Because of their visits we can stand on Remembrance Sunday and truly say:-
“We Will Remember Them”