A young couple from Doncaster are setting off on a poignant summer holiday next month – visiting the graves of soldiers lying in foreign fields.
Sarah Smith and her partner, Craig Jackson, want to commemorate the centenary of the First world War by embarking on a journey to lay tributes and honour 100 soldiers from their home town of Conisbrough who were killed in action and whose remains are buried overseas.
Their noble endeavour is even more impressive because they plan to travel around Belgium by bicycle.
Great War enthusiasts Sarah, aged 32, a systems analyst, and Craig, 33, a software developer, have been challenged to visit each grave and lay a simple tribute to acknowledge each soldier’s sacrifice.
Jim Beachill, of the Conisbrough and Denaby Local History Group, said: “We researched the stories and burial sites of 100 fallen heroes from the Conisbrough and Denaby area.
“Of these we discovered only four are buried in England. The rest are scattered in 73 different cemeteries, through nine different countries in Europe and the Middle East.
“We thought that visiting their graves and honouring each soldier individually would be an appropriate way to commemorate the centenary of the Great War.
“Sarah and Craig, supporters of the history group, have agreed to visit the graves of each of the soldiers and place a tribute at their burial site.”
The project will probably take four years, the duration of the war.
Sarah admitted the couple are ‘WW1 buffs’ and said they believed very passionately that the men who fought for the liberty of others should be remembered.
“We know that many of the men who are buried overseas receive no visitors either because there’s no-one left to mourn them or there’s no one able to go. So, we decided that as they were men from our own village, we would honour them.
“My own late great-grandfather, James Ewart Davies, also fought in the Great War and thankfully returned home safe and well. He was one of the lucky ones and we felt strongly that our fallen heroes should be remembered and honoured, so accepted Jim’s challenge willingly.”
History group’s unique project to honour the fallen
The history group will be officially launching the ‘Conisbrough 100’ project at Conisbrough Library on Saturday, July 19 from 10am where the grave tributes will be on display and visitors will be given an opportunity to find out more and perhaps share their own stories, make a donation towards funding the project or become otherwise involved.
Mr Beachill added: “We plan to maintain duplicate copies of the tributes in the local area which will be marked off once each honour is laid. We are trying to find an appropriate location.”
Progress of the venture can be followed on their Facebook page Conisbrough 100