Tireless work of Vale couple to make sure Bucks’ fallen heroes are remembered

June and Peter Underwood - founders of Bucks Remembers website, pictured at Weston Turville war memorial. Below, Ray Ghent.
June and Peter Underwood - founders of Bucks Remembers website, pictured at Weston Turville war memorial. Below, Ray Ghent.
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Website Buckinghamshire Remembers, run by retired Weston Turville couple June and Peter Underwood, acts as a search engine and details almost 8,000 servicemen and women who lost their lives in the First World War.

Founded in 2004 and after thousands of hours of work spent researching and travelling across the county the couple admit their work will never truly finish.

Ray Ghent, pictured at Aylesbury war memorial

Ray Ghent, pictured at Aylesbury war memorial

“We have still got some more work to do on it,” said June.

“I don’t know if it will ever be finished. We want to make the project as complete as possible.”

Peter added: “Having looked at memorials we have now been looking at newspaper cuttings for names not mentioned on those memorials.”

To be included on the website a casualty must have either been born, or died, or lived, or been buried in the county.

The couple have benefitted from grants from Bucks County Council but largely they have relied on the generosity of donations to make the website free.

Peter added: “We are doing it for the love it. Children, adults, senior people, anybody can come have a look at it and get out of it what they want.”

The duo said they found it particularly ‘gratifying’ after uncovering the history behind someone’s name and their success in uncovering new names has led to many being added to memorials.

June said: “Working up to the centenary of going to war in 2014 it’s generating a lot of interest from our generation and from younger people too.”

The original idea for the website came from former Aylesbury mayor Ray Ghent but he stood down at an early stage with the Underwoods taking it on.

He said: “I started it as a hobby as something I could do when I had the time. But what they have achieved is tremendous.”

Compliments for the couple’s tireless work are widespread and Aylesbury MP David Lidington was quick to pay tribute.

He said: “It’s an incredibly valuable resource. There are few people left who have any memory of World War One and that makes it particularly important that we continue to remember the sacrifice of the Armed Forces.

“What’s so striking about this website is it makes the history of the First World War personal and local. It looks beyond the numbers who fought to individual stories

“When you have two or three brothers in a single village who have lost their lives that brings it home more sharply than the just the thousands of numbers of people who died.”

Such tales are well documented on the site with photos accompanying many of them.

There is private Herbert Leonard Kempster who died from tuberculosis in 1918 without seeing action but only had a headstone built made a few years ago in Weston Turville Churchyard.

And in contrast there is 2nd Lieutenant Frederick Youens VC, a former pupil of the Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe.

Youens died in 1917 while receiving medication in the trenches. A bomb was thrown in which Youens saved his men from by throwing it out. He was unsuccessful a second time though when a bomb landed and exploded in his hands.

There is also the plaque commemorating Aylesbury United footballers who gave their lives.

June added: “There are a terrific number of stories we have just not got room for.

“World War One research is looking back but if you can let these things be known to the children that’s even better.”

Visit the site at www.buckinghamshireremembers.org.uk.