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Thankful Villages

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Millions of families throughout the UK suffered the loss of close family relatives in the Great War of 1914 -18. Losing one family member must have been truly devastating but try to image the grief of William and Julia Souls, of Great Rissington in Gloucestershire who lost five sons.

It appears that barely a family or community across the UK escaped World War I untouched by such terrible loss, except that is for the “Thankful Villages”.

WWI soldier and nurseThe term “Thankful Villages” was first used by the British writer and journalist Arthur Mee in his King's England, a guide to the counties of England in the 1930s. A Thankful Village was said to be one which lost no men in the Great War as all those who had left to serve 'King and Country' came home again. For instance, in Yorkshire East Riding he writes about Catwick, "Thirty men went from Catwick to the Great War and thirty came back, though one left an arm behind." Incredibly, Arkholme in Lancashire saw 59 of their sons go to war and all returned. It was also suggested that such villages had no war memorials, although some had monuments, usually in the church, in gratitude for their good fortune.

Among the 16,000 villages in England, Arthur Mee estimated that there were at most 32 Thankful Villages, although he could only positively identify 24.

More recent and ongoing research by Norman Thorpe and Tom Morgan, has identified 41 parishes throughout England and Wales from which all soldiers returned, these are listed below;

Buckinghamshire

Stoke Hammond, south of Milton Keynes

Cardiganshire, Wales

Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn, southwest of Aberystwyth

Cornwall

Herodsfoot, northwest of Looe

Derbyshire

Bradbourne, north of Ashbourne

Essex

Strethall, west of Saffron Walden

Glamorgan, Wales

Colwinston, south of Bridgend

Gloucestershire

Brierley, south of Ross-on-Wye

 

Coln Rogers, north of Cirencester

 

Little Sodbury east of Chipping Sodbury

 

Upper Slaughter

Herefordshire

Middleton-on-the-Hill, north of Leominster

Hertfordshire

Puttenham, near Tring

Kent

Knowlton, near Canterbury

Lancashire

Arkholme, east of Carnforth

 

Nether Kellett, east of Carnforth

Leicestershire

Saxby, east of Melton Mowbray

Lincolnshire

Bigby, east of Scunthorpe

 

Claxby, north of Market Rasen

 

Flixborough, north of Scunthorpe

 

High Toynton, east of Horncastle

Northamptonshire

East Carlton, west of Corby

 

Woodend, west of Towcester

Northumberland

Meldon, west of Morpeth

Nottinghamshire

Cromwell, north of Southwell

 

Maplebeck, north of Southwell

 

Wigsley, south of Newark

 

Wysall, south of Nottingham

Rutland

Teigh, north of Oakham

Shropshire

Harley, southwest of Telford

Somerset

Aisholt, north of Taunton

 

Chantry, west of Frome

 

Chelwood, west of Bath

 

Rodney Stoke, near Cheddar

 

Stocklinch, near Ilminster

 

Tellisford, south of Bath

 

Woolley, north of Bath

Suffolk

Culpho, north of Ipswich

 

South Elmham St Michael, in the Waveny Valley

Yorkshire

Catwick, north of Beverley

 

Cundall, east of Ripon

 

Norton-le-Clay, near Ripon

 

Scruton, south of Catterick

  

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