AS THE crowds gathered once again around Southampton’s war memorial today, there were 44 more servicemen they will be paying their respects to.
For most people the addition of the names on the glass walls – including three that were misspelled on the cenotaph – that commemorate the city’s war dead will go unnoticed.
But for the families of those men it signals the rightful marking of their place in history.
Nine of those men lost their lives in the First World War but for more than 90 years they went unnamed on the city’s cenotaph.
Likewise some 30 men who lost their lives in the Second World War and a serviceman who died in the Malayan conflict have never had their names formally acknowledged in the city. The question, of course, is why.
Simply calling it an administration error would seem inadequate, but essentially that is what it was.
According to Southampton historian Dr Andy Russel, there was never an official register compiled of where the servicemen who died had lived.
It made it virtually impossible to get a comprehensive list of all those men and women who had died in battle, as it was often the families themselves who informed the local authorities in charge of erecting the memorials of their tragic news.
It has only been in recent years, with the growing interest in family history, that descendants of those servicemen who died have discovered their ancestor’s name was one of those missing.
The unveiling of the glass walls in Southampton last year was intended to enshrine the servicemen and women’s names after the crumbling stone of the cenotaph made most of the engravings unreadable.
“By bringing the list of names to eye level and in alphabetical order it made it easier for families to see whether their relatives’ names were on there.
As a result 40 families have come forward,” said Dr Russel.
It is not the first time room has been found to accommodate names that had been missed off. In 1918 Southampton War Memorial Committee was established with the aim of erecting a memorial to the servicemen who had died in the First World War.
At that time the borough was smaller it is now and did not include the districts of Bassett, Bitterne, Bitterne Manor, Bitterne Park, Itchen, Midanbury, Millbrook, Peartree Green, Redbridge, Sholing, Swaythling, Thornhill, Weston and Woolston.
The war committee had to add the names on those parishes’ memorials to the 1,793 fallen soldiers from the city centre.
In the months that followed the dedication in 1920, many families came forward with a request for their relatives to be added – a request that was initially denied.
Despite being turned down by the town clerk, the undeterred mother of Arthur Ernest Hayball – who had died when the Merchant Navy vessel SS Antonio was torpedoed – wrote to Norton Catchpole, secretary of the Hampshire division of the “Comrades of the Great War”, who took up the case.
He advertised in the Southern Evening Echo for more families to come forward and by April 1921 he had amassed a list of 148 names, which he sent to Alderman Kimber, who headed the War Memorial Committee.
Their names were duly added in November of that year.
Owing to the sheer number, the names overflowed from the recessed panels of the Cenotaph onto the shoulder of the pylon, where the stone was much coarser.
Stonemasons Garret and Haysom, of East Street, were hired once again a year later to add the 1,997th and final name, William Henry Thomas Deem.
Since then no more names of those who died in the 1914-18 conflict have been added, until the glass memorial walls were unveiled with names that now total 2, 368 – 371 more than in 1922.
The total number of Second World War names on the Memorial Wall is 927.
Earlier this week, a 90-year-old wrong was righted as specialist workers sandblasted the additional names onto one of the six glass panes in time for today’s commemorations.
Dr Russel, of Southampton City Council’s archaeology team, said: “Like the memorial says, Their Name Liveth for Evermore.
"It is hugely important that we recognise all those who gave their lives during the conflicts.
"Behind every one of these names is a fascinating story to tell.”
- For a full list of the names click here
- Missing name was a Lancaster bomber hero - read his story here
- If you know of other service personnel who you think should be included email andy.russel@ southampton.gov.uk.