Belper War Memorial

World War II Roll of Honour

Just twenty years after the War to end all Wars the people of Belper were once again embroiled in a global conflict and the young men of the town went away to fight and, once again like their fathers before them, many of them were to die in far flung regions of the world.

Tension filled the air of Belper on that sunny, sultry morning of Sunday September 3, 1939 in church halls, pubs and homes people were clustered around radios, waiting for news. Everyone knew that war was a possibility but they were hoping against hope that it wouldn't happen.

Then at 11.15 Neville Chamberlain the British Prime Minister announced:

‘This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by 11.00 a.m. that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us.

I have to tell you that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.’

Everyone was stunned. There was no sense of bravado at all, just glumness. All the adults remembered the Great War with its horrendous loss of life and deprivations.

But the second world war was to be a war of movement not the stalemate of the trenches of the Great War and would cost an estimated 80 million deaths worldwide compared to 17 million in the First War.

Once again, the families of Belper would fear the knock of the postman or telegram boy bringing the news they feared most, and, once again, the Belper War Memorial would have to have names added to it.

These are the stories of those Belper men who went away to war and never returned ...

© Belper in Wartime