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Lives of fallen First World War soldiers go on display at Coulsdon College

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HISTORIES detailing the lives of all the Coulsdon and Old Coulsdon men who died in the First World War have gone on display this week as part of the town's planned commemorations for the centenary of the war. Primary school children from the area have also been taken to the exhibition, at Coulsdon College, this week to learn about their forbears. Pupils from Keston Primary School visited on Tuesday and as well as making a remembrance poppy with tools borrowed from the Poppy Factory they met a soldier in full First World War kit. Carole Skinner helped to research the history of the men alongside Malcolm Mackenzie and has been manning the exhibition. She said the idea to do the research came when her grandson asked her about Old Coulsdon's war memorial last Remembrance Sunday. "He asked me, 'are all those names from Old Coulsdon?' So I said we should investigate." Carole and Malcolm spent months going through records and getting in touch with the families of the men, who were all over the world. "We even contacted people in Australia to ask permission to use photos of their ancestors," she said. "Not one person said no, the reaction was amazing. "So many people have their family stories to tell, it's been remarkable, people popping in from the street have been sharing their tales. "One lady even burst into tears after reading a few. "With so many stories about these young men, it's been really emotional." Carole added it had been similarly emotional researching the stories of the men who went off to fight and were taken from their families far too young. "Many of them had probably never been further away than Croydon, and they found themselves in Gallipoli, and too many found themselves killed." Mapping out the places where the men had come from was also revealing, she said. "It was also interesting how all the officers lived in the big posh Edwardian houses, while the soldiers mostly came from little cottages, and tended to be much younger." As well as the histories of the men, a silent film from the Somme is also on display during the exhibition which runs until July 25. A commemoration service is to be held at St John's church in Old Coulsdon on August 3. Councillor Chris Wright, chairman of the organising committee of the commemorations, explained that 41 school children would each bear a placard with the image of a man from the area who had been killed in the war at the service. "The whole point is commemoration, not celebration," he said.

Lives of fallen First World War soldiers go on display at Coulsdon College


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