1914 - 2023

The Marston Lads

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In the Cheshire village of Marston, it's Sunday 28th June 1914 and the weather is warm. Many have attended Saint Paul's Church and now making their way back to spend the rest of the day with family and friends.

Reading the newspaper after Sunday lunch, people chat about the issues of the day. Still, just local news is of interest, national and international news was for the Government and businesses to worry about. That is the advantage of being cocooned within a close village community, everyone knows everyone.

It's a tough life, but we don't know any different. The average house back then would cost you £192, but with an average weekly wage of just 26 shillings and 4d, owning your own home was for the wealthy – reading the newspaper 'look at this' said Father! One of those mechanical contraptions called a motor car; being sold for £220! You can buy a house for that', I can't see those things catching on' father laughed.

Most men in the area work for the local salt mine, often with a company house. The average number of rooms for a house, which included the kitchen, was four, and with an average household of eight people, things are pretty cramped.

But life will always get better if you work hard, that's what father and mother always said....

On this same Sunday, and hundreds of miles away in Serbia, events were unfolding which the Marston community were oblivious too. Today would be the start of a struggle that would cost the lives of 28 Marston Lads and devastate the village. Over the next four years every single house in the area would be either directly or indirectly affected.

Life from this point would never be the same again.

On this same day, 28th June 1914, the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, together with their driver, were all assassinated by Bosnian revolutionary, Gavrilo Princip.

This single act was not solely responsible for the outbreak of the first World War; but it was the catalyst and the trigger that would set in motion a conflict which would lead to approx 20 million deaths and over 22 million wounded, leaving local communities grieving as they lost their golden generation.

Six years later, on the 13th November 1920, a Saturday, the crowds gathered around a brand new monument, the Marston Memorial. Funded by local business as well as the community; and for many who had lost sons, husbands, brothers, fathers and friends, it was their sole point of remembrance. For those fortunate enough to have been identified, they lie in a foreign land including France, Belgium, Germany, Egypt and Iraq, one sailor remains within his ship, sunk by a German u-boat in 1915. Marston lost two sets of brothers during the First World War.

300,000 soldiers killed in WW1 are still missing. They have no known grave.

In France, there are 1620 Commonweath War Grave Cemeteries, in Belgium, there are 372. If you visited a different cemetery every day, it would take you five years and 167 days to visit them all.

A simple name on the Marston Memorial is all families have left of their loved ones. On the 13th November 1920, the day is an emotional one.


' Remembering The Marston Lads '

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning.
We will remember them.

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'Over The Hills & Far Away'

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