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Villager's garden salute to Great War dead

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 16, 2014

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A patriotic villager has turned his own front garden into a war memorial in his own moving commemoration of the outbreak of World War One.

Patrick White, 68, handmade 19 white wooden crosses to mark each of the local men who lost their lives in the conflict.

He inscribed each with the names of the fallen soldiers and added a single red poppy and arranged them in neat rows at the foot of his garden in Bleadon, Somerset.

An artist neighbour added a slate plaque, which read: "Dedicated to the men of the parish who gave their lives in the Great War".

Patrick said: "I'm interested in World War One and I think it was such a waste of life, so I did it as a personal tribute to the guys from the village.

"I made the crosses with a friend. It took us about 16 hours and then it took another week to paint them all.

"I put them up to commemorate the start of the First World War and I'll leave them up for a little while longer, I think."

Patrick copied the names from the only existing memorial to the war dead – a wall plaque installed in the village church.

Like countless other communities, the village was decimated by the conflict, with the 19 dead amounting to almost a fifth of its population at the time.

Patrick, a retired construction site manager, added: "I don't think the military are treated very well nowadays and I wanted to say thank you.

"When making the crosses, it did get a bit depressing, really. When I stuck the names on you suddenly realise they are a real person who gave up their life.

"You just think, 'What am I moaning about?' It's nothing compared to them – they gave their lives.

"The village was only about 100 people when World War One started, so to lose 19 people is almost a fifth of the population."

Patrick has also printed a copy of the famous In Flanders Fields poem in front of the memorial and installed a charity box for donations to Help for Heroes.

Locals have thanked him for his tribute on a village website.

Ian Findlay wrote: "Thank you Pat for the thoughts and work that you have put into this – a fitting tribute."

And Brian Noble said: "Really nice thought by Patrick and I hope he does well for his 'Help for Heroes' collection, which is a very worthy cause."

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