Author Ralph Davidson, from Milnrow, unveiled a poignant new book during a special launch event and book signing at Rochdale Town Hall this week.
‘Not Forgotten: Milnrow and District Fallen Heroes of the First World War’ is the first book released by the author. It tells the tale of the men from across the area who were drafted to fight during World War One but which sadly did not return.
The beginnings of the book can be traced back to 2001 when Ralph, husband of the then mayor Irene Davidson, attended a ball held by the Lancashire Fusiliers.
Ralph recalls: “I heard of the Fusiliers annual trips to France and Belgium and was very kindly invited along. Shortly after the trip I was looking at the Milnrow War Memorial and it struck me that, while we had heard tales of the Accrington Pals and Burnley Pals, nobody had ever written about our local heroes. I want these soldiers to be remembered and not just a list of names on a board.”
His search for information started in Milnrow Library, before quickly moving to the Local Studies Centre in Touchstones. Ploughing through old copies of the Rochdale Observer, Ralph quickly found around 80 names which weren’t on the memorial.
Ralph continued “I took a pad of paper with me to jot down anything I found and before I knew it, the pad was full. It was a very rewarding thing to do and I was able to meet families of these soldiers and tell them things that they didn’t know and they were able to tell me things I didn’t know so that was nice. It has been a pleasurable journey over the years, even if I didn’t expect it to take quite so long.”
The book has been meticulously researched and developed over the past 11-and-a-half years with numerous trips to both France and Belgium allowing Ralph to visit the graves of these fallen soldiers to gather information and take photographs.
Ralph has been assisted in his research by Julian Jefferson, Head of Arts and Heritage, who manages the Touchstones Museum, Gallery and Local Studies Centre.
Julian said, “I was really pleased to be able to support Ralph in his research for this fantastic and intriguing book. Ralph has been a real pleasure to work with and I was honoured to accept a signed copy of his book on behalf of Local Studies which will be stored in the borough’s collections. We’re always happy to help people’s research – pop in and ask us a question”
Around 40 people attended the launch event, including the Mayor Carol Wardle and many of those who helped Ralph with the book. Anybody interested in purchasing the book should visit George Kelsall’s book shop in Littleborough, contact the publishing company Jade Publishing or contact Ralph directly on 01706 650311.
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