First World War Centenary Project 2018
Ryde Social Heritage Group began research related to the centenary of the First World War in 2013 with its project ‘Ryde on the Brink of War.’ The Group joined the First World War Centenary Partnership, headed by the Imperial War Museum and over the course of the next five years, RSHG volunteers researched, documented, published booklets and leaflets, held events, Open Days and organised activities, conducted talks and guided walks and gave dramatic performances. School and youth groups were involved as well as their own RSHG members and other adult organisations.
By 2018 the Group had added a vast amount of new research to its First World War Archive. Volunteers began work in January of 2018 to locate, with a view to later marking, all the known graves in Ryde Cemetery which record the names of those who had died as a result of the ‘Great War.’ The graves are of three types, those who are actually buried in the cemetery and have Commonwealth War Grave Commission headstones ; those buried in the cemetery within a private family grave; those commemorated on a family grave but buried or commemorated on war graves and memorials across the world, many with no known grave.
The total number kept rising as more names were discovered and it was decided to include the other cemeteries of Ryde – St John’s (also known as Oakfield and Westridge), Ashey and Binstead. Special 2 foot high wooden Centenary Crosses were made by members and friends of RSHG. A written Roll of Honour was produced as well as an audio recording of the 144 names and ages of those who have been marked with the special crosses.
A large exhibition was set up in the Twin Chapels at Ryde Cemetery displaying a wide range of documents, photographs and artefacts, all related to RSHG’s research on the First World War. The exhibition was open 3 days a week over 3 weeks and volunteers were on hand to answer questions, assist people with personal research and guided World War 1 Trails were conducted. The Roll of Honour audio sounded outside the chapels during the open hours and most people commented how poignant this was.
On the evening of 8 November, a Remembrance Service was held at Ryde Cemetery Chapel, led by British Legion chaplain, Rev. Veronica Brown and with a congregation of over 30 people. Colour parties from the British Legion and the Sea Cadets took part and a bugler and her band master were also in attendance. There were representatives from Ryde Fire Brigade, Ryde Council, past and present, an ex-Mayor and an ex-M.P. At the completion of the service refreshments were served. Many people enjoyed viewing the Exhibition and listening to the Roll of Honour audio before and after the proceedings.