Many war dead name researchers focus singularly on the names found on their local war memorials be they town, school, church, employment or leisure organisations. I have approached this subject from a different angle, in that I have attempted to list EVERY possible name of ANYONE who may have some connection, however tenuous, with the Borough of Trafford, Greater Manchester, UK.
I started this project in 1997 - which in my naivety, I expected to take about a year to complete. My objective was to create an authoritative list of names to either concur with or to dispute requests for names to be added to Trafford's constituent town memorials. It started off as a simple list of names, but progressed to adding background information and then taking photographs of their graves, where known. It has now grown to a list of some 7,000 names.
For whatever reason, many names never found their way onto any memorial, other than the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's records, but even their records are not 100% complete. Some memorials distinctly appertain to WW1 and arguably WW2 names should not be added piecemeal. Unfortunately there was less enthusiasm for memorials after WW2, than there was after WW1 when just about every family in the Country suffered one or more losses of their loved ones. In consequence, there are less WW2 memorials available as a local public recognition of their ultimate sacrifice.
It is fair to assume that 10% of the people who qualify to have their names etched onto such memorials are not listed. Had I simply homed in on memorial names alone, many people from Urmston for example, would not have had any mention as for whatever reason, Urmston's c1920 War Memorial Committee decided not to list any names on their town's war memorial. The Urmston town war memorial is one of the few war memorials in the Country that is guaranteed to be 100% accurate!!!
Most of us would automatically expect that our town's war memorials are not only accurate, but complete - not the case. I became quite angry when I first started this project as I found that so many names were missing from their respective town's war memorials, but eventually became philosophical about these omissions, as the reasons, that I had not previously considered, are numerous:-
1. It has to be remembered that the names were collated, often by a well meaning local official or a retired member of the armed forces, or even by a local newsagent after local newspaper appeals for names to be submitted.
2. Men started dying in 1914 and it was to be another 6+ years before the appeals for the submission of their names.
3. Parents died young in those days and this meant that there was no-one left to submit their son's name for inclusion on the memorial. Surviving parents sometimes retired and moved away.
4. Some parents and widows point blank refused to "give-up" on their loved ones and would not accept that they were in fact dead. Some clung desperately to their belief that their missing son or husband was a POW somewhere or was trapped in a hospital suffering from loss of memory.
5. Widows had died or remarried in the intervening years, perhaps moving away from the area and again were not there to submit the names of their former husbands. Their new husbands were perhaps not sympathetic to their new wife's loyalty to their first husband's name, so kept quiet.
6. I know of at least one case where a family did not want to be reminded of the loss of their loved one each time they passed the town memorial on the way to the shops, etc, so deliberately failed to submit their son's name, or were adamant that they did not want the persons name added. One family in Bowdon refused to have the person's name added to the family gravestone.
7. The time allowance from the appeal to the submission of the names was often very limited, so did not give everyone the opportunity to submit a name in time before the list closed. Assuming that a person's name did get listed, it was often not correct. It is quite amazing the number of incorrect names that have been carved in stone or cast in bronze! Again, there are several explanations for this.
8. As in (2) above, old pre-war friends submitted their late chums name and/or the regiment that they served in incorrectly, perhaps giving the regiment into which their pal enlisted way back in 1914. But, during the course of the war, many men were drafted into different regiments to replenish battalions that had earlier been virtually wiped out.
9. People used their middle name or a nick-name and often shortened their forenames.
10. The nuances of people's forenames - Harold and Harry - and surnames, Davis and Davies, etc.
11. Finally, there is just simple human error and bad handwriting. I have found to my cost when transcribing such lists, just how easy it is to miss out or to duplicate a name or even to mix a forename up with someone else's surname - it's easily done.
Almost EVERY source of information contains errors, even highly respected sources. The sheer size of the task then facing well meaning officials, sometimes volunteers, was immense - it is small wonder that there are not even more errors.
Sadly, almost nothing is known about some of the people listed in these databases, either because they have common names, or because of incorrect information, as explained above. For example, over 900 - W. Jones' died during WW1 - one of those was from Sale, but I have no idea which one of those 900 he is! If anyone has information that can identify individuals listed here or provide more information than listed, I would be most grateful to receive it. If anyone has any other query relating to these databases, then I will do my best to answer your query. However, I cannot undertake queries that are not related to Trafford and will not respond to any such query.
This has been (still is) a mammoth task recording the details of over 7,000 people lost in conflict, it is by no means complete - it never will be, but what is included on these pages must surely be better than nothing and gives others so inclined to extend sections of the databases, a base to work from. Please feel free to use this site as a stepping off point and if I can help you, I will.