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News article

Remembering the First World War

Published: 04 August 2014

York St John University is marking 100 years since the start of the First World War with an online roll of honour to commemorate alumni who lost their lives in the conflict.

Eighty-four former students of St John’s College, York (the institution would later become York St John University), died between 1914 and 1919. All had trained to be teachers and many were working in schools across Yorkshire and some further afield.

On 4 August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany and this date, 100 years later, has been chosen by many organisations to officially remember those who lost their lives.

York St John’s roll of honour features details of the former ‘Johnsmen’ including their hometown and where they were working. The roll also notes their burial locations whether these be in England, France, Belgium or other cemeteries, along with other memorials to them closer to home.

Dates of their attendance at St John’s College as well as achievements from that time, such as positions held and sports colours are also mentioned.

There are many poignant details in the roll including one man, Frank Hunsley, who was one of three brothers to die as a result of the war and another, Albert Harris, whose son was born just three days before his death.

Two Johnsmen, Edward Fairless and Matthew Fullerton, who fought alongside each other, are buried in adjoining graves at St. Vaast Post Military Cemetery in France.

Charles A Slack died 12 November 1918, one day after Armistice Day and John Joseph Moore was the most elderly Johnsman to lose his life. Mr Moore was headmaster of a school in County Durham for 37 years before joining up in 1915.

A number of Johnsmen were awarded medals during the conflict: John Harrison was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross; Rhodes Lister was given a Distinguished Conduct Medal and Frederick William Arthur Stubbs MC received the Military Cross.

The project was envisaged and researched by alumni volunteer Pat Neal, himself a St John’s College graduate (he studied BA Hons History and American Studies, 1981 - 1985).

Pat started his investigation with the war memorial, which was opened in 1921, in the University chapel. From there he used the College Registers in the University archives, gravestones and burial records to discover more details about the men which then allowed him to explore other historical records which he used to create the roll of honour.

Amy Lynch, Alumni Officer, said: “With the commemoration coming up, Pat had the idea for the project. He has put so much time and effort into this and the results, in terms of how much detail he has uncovered, is amazing.

“We hope many people use this project as a resource, maybe to help with family or local history. Or as part of the First World War commemorations, to remember the sacrifice so many men, and women, made.”

Pat is now working with the Royal British Legion website, Every Man Remembered, to update their database of those who died in the First World War.

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