North Newton war heroes honoured in research by history teacher

This is The West Country: Russ Foster by the war memorial in North Newton church. Russ Foster by the war memorial in North Newton church.

A HISTORY teacher originally from North Newton rekindled his connection to the village by tracking down its war heroes.

Russ Foster, a teacher from Salisbury, has been researching the names on the First World War memorial in St Peter's Church in the village.

Russ said: “The memorial at North Newton Church just lists the name, the battalion and the year they died. I wanted to track down what happened to them.”

The 15 names on the memorial were all men from North Newton who died during the First World War.

Russ' grandfather fought in the war and was one of the lucky ones who survived.

Russ said: “I wanted to find the names and what happened to the people in the village who didn't come back.

“Professional interest linked into personal interest. It became a labour of love. I was born there and I went to the village school in North Newton. It will always be home to me.”

Researching the names on the memorial ended up being an emotional journey for Russ.

He said: “When I was a little boy in the 60s, my mum used to get me and my sister to sing 'Two Little Boys' at the church. An old man called Walter Parsons from the village made me sing it again for him.

“One of the boys on the memorial was Oliver Parsons, his brother. He was poisoned by the German gas attacks. “There was a little bit in the Mercury about the funeral.”

Thanks to some help from the Mercury archives, Russ managed to track down what happened to each of the names on the war memorial.

His plan now is to self-publish the 16,000 pamphlet about everyone on the memorial and sell it at the church sometime later this year.

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