IN St John’s Church, Menston, a Roll of Honour commemorates over 380 men and women of the village who served in the First World War.

Over the last four years a series of events has enabled villagers to reflect on family stories of the war, dating back over a century. A steering group comprised of Jan Alexander, Judith Knaggs, Joyce Simpson and Dale Smith led

two trips to France and Flanders to visit graves of the 50 men from Menston who died in the war.

Now a new book, Echoes of War, reflects on the community’s response and remembrance of the 1914-18 conflict, and looks at Menston life in the early 20th century.

The book launch on Friday, June 28, coinciding with Europe’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Versailles Treaty, was attended by guests of honour Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Ed Anderson and Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Doreen Lee. Other guests included Tricia Restorick, president of Bradford World War One Group, who said: “It is truly uplifting to see how much the village appreciates the work done by Jan Alexander, Judith Knaggs, Joyce Simpson and Dale Smith over the last few years. I’m in awe of all they achieved, and felt rather honoured to be invited to contribute a small part, especially on behalf of the women.”

Echoes of War explores the complex realities behind the lists of names engraved on village memorials, read aloud each November in Remembrance services. Biographical details for almost all those whose names are inscribed on the Menston Roll of Honour are included in the book.

David and Pat Machin’s research evokes a purposeful pre-war community - men employed as woolcombers, bleachers, dyers and wool merchants; patients at High Royds Hospital (then the West Riding Asylum); new occupations such as electrical engineers, chauffeurs and mechanics; and those that were part of all communities: stonemasons, house painters, grocers.

Menston’s Roll of Honour also records the names of 18 women who were nurses in the First World War. Tricia Restorick used her historical expertise to research the chapter ‘Nurses from Menston’, recounting the service and later lives of these brave, capable women. Cllr Dale Smith paid tribute to Tricia for "delving into the depths of her prodigious knowledge of events 1914-18 to keep us on the straight and narrow path of fact."

Writes Joyce Simpson in the book: “Those involved in the war were bitterly aware of the gulf between their experiences at the Front and the language of honour and glory used by the Press and politicians at home. The stories in this book probe the silence war frequently imposed and expose more complex, human realities of anger, indignation, fear.

"To read with empathy is to re-discover what those who fought in the trenches learnt...that real heroism is about endurance, loyalty, the daily struggle to act with integrity, courage and humanity even in the midst of unspeakably awful conditions.”

Emma Clayton