Remembrance Day: Upminster exhibition reveals emotive stories of First World War soldiers

David Samuel Jillings, who was in the Royal Flying Corps

David Samuel Jillings, who was in the Royal Flying Corps - Credit: Archant

The human faces of the First World War have been brought to life in a poignant new exhibition.

David Samuel Jillings, who was in the Royal Flying Corps

David Samuel Jillings, who was in the Royal Flying Corps - Credit: Archant

The Old Chapel is marking the centenary of the conflict through the display, which has been put together by dedicated volunteers.

It features the personal stories of soldiers who lived in the borough.

Betty Shillingford, 85, researched four of them.

She said: “I thoroughly enjoyed it. You get defensive of them – you want to protect their memories.

David Samuel Jillings, who was in the Royal Flying Corps

David Samuel Jillings, who was in the Royal Flying Corps - Credit: Archant


You may also want to watch:


“It’s been emotional.”

The free exhibition, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, features display panels and kit bags containing extra information on the individual soldiers.

Most Read

A link between two of them was discovered by Joy Harris, 68.

She contacted the relatives of Harry Warren and realised he had a connection to William Pike – who Val Burch was researching.

David Samuel Jillings, who was in the Royal Flying Corps

David Samuel Jillings, who was in the Royal Flying Corps - Credit: Archant

Joy said: “I really struck lucky. I made contact with his great-niece in Australia and she told me the family tree.

“I built on the information she gave me and found William was married to Harry’s sister.

“Now we have got the two families in contact.”

Keith Finch, 66, looked at Alfred Culyer’s story, which is thought to have come to a brutal end.

He said: “Culyer was fascinating to me because his death is dated 1919, outside of the First World War.

“He was in Egypt with a group of soldiers and they were massacred on a train.

“They weren’t armed.”

The incident happened during the Egyptian revolution against British occupation.

Gemma Smith is the heritage officer at the Old Chapel, based in the grounds of the Sacred Heart of Mary Girls’ School, in St Mary’s Lane, Upminster.

She said: “The volunteers have done a huge amount of work, so I give them my heartfelt thanks.”

The attraction is open from 2-5pm on various dates until November 30.

To find out more, call 01708 222660 or email gsmith@mary.havering.sch.uk.

To book, visit theoldchapelupminster.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter