A blog by Islington Council’s Armed Forces Champion, Cllr Gary Poole (St Mary’s ward) –
The beginning of November marks a poignant period in the civic year for our borough. This year, as we mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, the remembrance events of the past week have an added significance.
The crowds that have flocked to the Tower of London to see the magnificent and powerful poppies demonstrate the importance to people of remembering those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for us.
Here in Islington, 9,400 army personnel and residents lost their lives between 1914-1918. That’s almost equivalent to the entire population of one whole ward of our borough.
The fields of France and Belgium, the sands of Egypt and the beaches of Gallipoli, all saw ordinary people from Islington fall in service of their country.
To emphasise and remember that it was ordinary people from Islington that went to fight in the First World War, but never returned home, Islington Council has established the ‘The Streets They Left Behind’ project.
Today, we have launched the next part of the project – an interactive map which shows where each of the people who died during the First World War lived. Each soldiers’ former home is marked by a poppy on the map, and when clicked displays details about their military action during the war, and their last resting places.
The locations have been compiled from the Islington Book of Remembrance, which commemorates the 13,000 men, women and children of Islington who died as a result of war from the beginning of the Boer War (1899), to the 1950s.
You may have already seen some of the plaques that have been placed on streets across our borough, which commemorate the men who lived in those streets and lost their lives in the First World War.
Here's a piece BBC London did about the plaques -
This project aims to highlight the impact on the communities back home of the loss of so many Islingtonians, and to remember the soldiers’ great sacrifice. Communities, families and workplaces were torn apart by the loss of so many and we hope that It will be an invaluable resource for schools and other groups wishing to study the impact of the First World War on their communities.
There are many events and exhibitions taking place as we mark the centenary of the First World War and you can find details of these here, including information about the ‘Islington during the First World War’ exhibition at Islington Central Library.
I am proud that the people of our borough won’t forget the sacrifice of those that fell in the Great War, and the sacrifice of so many others in conflicts that came after.
We will remember them.
Pictured: Islington Labour councillors at Spa Green Memorial on Sunday 9th November 2014.