Bradford Telegraph and ArgusStories behind the new memorial in Bradford (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)

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Stories behind the new memorial in Bradford

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Wendy Rayner at Saturday’s dedication service to the memorial she pressed for, with Peter’s father, also Peter Wendy Rayner at Saturday’s dedication service to the memorial she pressed for, with Peter’s father, also Peter
  • Sgt Peter Anthony Rayner

It was the widow of Sgt Peter Rayner, Wendy, who pressed for the new memorial in Bradford and pushed the council to commemorate those who had lost their lives since 1947.

On Saturday, she was at the service with Sgt Rayner's parents, Peter and Bernadette.

Mrs Rayner said: “It’ll be somewhere nice in summer to come to and lay flowers and spend a few minutes. It's nice for other people to come to, too, other families.

“It’s long been needed.”

Sgt Rayner, of Odsal, was killed in action in 2010 when he was struck by an improvised explosive device while leading his men on patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

The 34-year-old was serving with the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, when he died. He had previously served in Bosnia and Iraq and was on his second tour of Afghanistan.

  • Private Christopher Kershaw

Pte Kershaw, of Idle, was 19 when he was killed in an explosion in southern Afghanistan while serving with The 3rd Battalion, The Yorkshire Regiment .

He was one of six soldiers killed when their armoured vehicle was blown up in March 2012.

His mother, Monica, said the Memorial Wall said she was a “very proud mother” and that her son would have been proud of Saturday’s turnout.

“It's absolutely amazing. I’m surprised by the number of people here. The British Legion bikers have come from as far as Burnley. I just mentioned it to them and they just turned up.

“I think it’s lovely that everybody's turned out. It’s nice they've done something for all local people. It’s something everybody can share,” she said.

Pte Kershaw's father Brian and his wife Sharon Woods, of Idle, were also at the service.

He said: “It’s been really interesting. A nice day, if you can call it that. They've put on a good show.

“The wall has taken some time to get done, but it's worth the wait. I think it's very important. Every city should have some sort of memorial wall, it’s not just the families that take a lot of pride in them.”

  • Marine David Whitam

Mne Whitam died aged 19 in Nicosia, Cyprus, on July 13, 1958, while serving with the 45 Commando Royal Marines.

The Royal Marine, of Bingley, is buried at the Waynes Keep Military Cemetery.

His body was found by Les Hills, of Nottingham, who was at Saturday's service with members of Mne Whitam's family.

The marines were on a helicopter mission when Mne Whitam was one of several shot down.

“When the shooting had calmed down, they put a search and rescue team together and I was part of that.

“As we approached the area I found two marines alive and asked where David was and they pointed me in the direction and I found him dead.

“It was the biggest shock of my life,” Mr Hills said. “We were all buddies together in a small group of about eight.”

Mne Whitam's sister, June Waite, 84, said she could still picture the Sunday morning a policeman knocked on her door to tell her about the death.

She said the new memorial was “wonderful.”

  • Private Ronald Sugden

Pte Sugden was killed whilst serving with the Royal Leicestershire Regiment in November 1951.

He turned 19 when he was on a ship to Hong Kong and on arrival was sent to Korea.

His wife, Mary Birkett, of Lidget Green said: “We got married and then he went and did his training.”

After he had set sail, Mrs Birkett found out she was pregnant.

“I wrote to tell him, but I never knew if he got the letter because the next thing I got was the telegram saying he had died,” the 81-year-old said.

The circumstances of Pte Sugden’s death remain a mystery and his body was never found, but Mrs Birkett kept her husband's memory alive by naming their son, now 62, Ronald.

The mill-worker later remarried and after her second husband died, she joined The British Korean Veterans Association.

“I wasn't going to, but my daughter said, ‘you're going’, and it’s the best thing I ever did,” she said.

  • Signaller Harry Parkinson

Sig Harry Parkinson was killed the night before Christmas Eve in 1954. The 19-year-old was based in Suez, Egypt, with the Royal Signals.

His sister, Joyce Atkinson, was at the memorial service with her husband, Malcolm. She said: “From what we can make out, he was coming home on leave. He had a girlfriend at the time and they were going to get engaged.”

But Sig Parkinson swapped his leave with a colleague who was returning home to marry. The teenager, of Clayton, was escorting others to a party when the group was in a collision and he was killed.

Mrs Atkinson, 73, said it was important to honour those who had died.

“It's been such a memorable day. It's been lovely,” she said.

  • Gunner Keith Bates

Gnr Bates was the third eldest of seven children and was killed in Northern Ireland in 1974.

His siblings, who were all at Saturday's service, know few details about their brother's death as their heartbroken father did not talk about it.

Alan Bates, 60, said: “He was in a Land Rover when it was in an accident with a police Land Rover, I think.

“He was injured and he was in hospital for a couple of weeks, I think.”

Gnr Bates, of Shipley, was 20 when he died.

“It was a lovely service,” Mr Bates said, adding that he had asked for his brother’s name to be included on the memorial wall after reading an appeal in the Telegraph & Argus.

  • Private Martin Bell

Saturday was as an especially moving day for the family and friends of Pte Martin Bell, as it was the third anniversary of the 24-year-old paratrooper's death.

Pte Bell, of Idle, had been one of the lead men using mine sweepers to check for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on the day he died in Helmand Province. On January 25, 2011 he disobeyed higher orders when he went to rescue a colleague who had stood on an IED and lost his leg.

“The names are there forever, for everybody to see,” his mother, Elaine, said. “Where's three years gone? You get that knock on the door and it's just awful. In three years our lives have been just turned upside down. But we’ve met some wonderful people and there’s been a lot of support.”

She said she was still in contact with Pte Scott Meenagh, whose life Pte Bell saved.

“They’ve been really, really good. There’s a lot of people who keep in touch. It doesn’t bring them back, but it does make it a little easier,” she said.

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