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They sacrificed their lives for their country, so their children and grandchildren could live to see a better world.
And now a poignant tribute of 500 photos of Ipswich servicemen killed in action during the First and Second World Wars has been created to honour those who died so others could enjoy their freedom.
Ipswich Borough Council worker Andrew Beale began collecting images for the moving tribute during the centenary of the start of the Great War in 2014.
Working with Helen Ely – whose great uncle William Trusler lost his life aged just 16 – and other military history specialists, they have compiled a fascinating collection which has now gone on display in Ipswich’s Sailmakers Shopping Centre.
Mr Beale, aged 49, of Trimley, near Ipswich, said: “We’ve had many pictures from families and also from newspaper obituaries but we have also reunited families with pictures of their relatives because in one case they had lost all their own photos in a fire in the 1950s.
“Another family lost four sons in the war and we have pictures of three of them and we are commemorating them on Facebook as the anniversary of their deaths comes round.
“You can actually trace the course of events by who the casualties were – it would be frontline troops at first and then perhaps a few days later artillerymen because they were moving the guns.”
The exhibition is a tribute to the 1,500 who died in the two conflicts and is timed to coincide with the centenary of the end of the First World War in November 1918.
The pictures and lists have also been stored digitally and can be seen on the Ipswich War Memorial & Cenotaph Facebook page.
Mr Beale said: “Most of the pictures there are from the First World War and they range from all sectors of society and including one poor man who saw active service but was shot at dawn.
“We have found many of the stories of these people, mainly from families and also from census records.
“It’s a real insight into their lives because they were often only soldiers for a year – one man didn’t make it out of training camp after falling on a bayonet.
“When you get clusters of dead you realise something was happening, an attack or a ship going down.
“Many children were orphaned and ended up with Barnardo’s but many were looked after by their families who tended to stick together with children brought up by their grandparents or put into service so the mother could go to work.
“I just became fascinated with it and kept asking questions about who these people were and where they came from and what happened to their families. Four years later, we’re still at it.
“In one case it was a newspaper obituary from 1917 and the granddaughter of the deceased went out to the Somme with her school and found the grave.
“You have to remember that over 10,000 were involved and only 1,500 didn’t return and for many of those called up it was the first time, they had ever worn new boots and new clothes – so it changed a lot of their lives.”
After the Sailmakers exhibition, there will be a tribute to the Ipswich war dead on November 10 and 11 at the at the Reg Driver Centre, in Christchurch Park, Ipswich, with the chance to learn more about the men and women who lost their lives during conflict.
For more information, visit www.ipswichwarmemorial.co.uk
Mike Sorhaindo, manager of Sailmakers Shopping Centre, said: “The exhibition is very touching because they gave their lives for their country and their descendants are still here.
“It’s proving very popular with our shoppers and we’re pleased to be able to help Andrew and his fellow researchers share their pictures and their stories with the community of Ipswich.”
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