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Have you any names of local lost war heroes to put forward for commemoration on Leek's monument?

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: May 06, 2014

By Abbey Buxton

Driver Vernon Talks, whose name will be added to the Nicholson War Memorial.

Driver Vernon Talks, whose name will be added to the Nicholson War Memorial.

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A NEW name is being added to Leek's war memorial following an appeal to families whose loved ones died in one of two worldwide conflicts.

Driver Vernon Talks, of the Royal Corps of Signals, was born in Moorhouse Street, Leek.

He was captured in Hong Kong by Japanese forces in 1941, but died along with many other prisoners of war while being transported for forced labour in the Far East when the unmarked ship which held them was sunk by an American submarine.

His name will be added to the more than 500 war dead already commemorated on the Nicholson War Memorial, at the end of Derby Street.

It is believed that another casualty of the Second World War has also been put forward, although their name has yet to be confirmed.

It comes after The Post & Times featured an appeal on February 5 by Councillor Pam Wood, chairman of the Friends of the Nicholson War Memorial, for suggestions of any outstanding additional names to be added to the memorial later this year.

It is felt the centenary of the start of the First World War in 1914 is an appropriate time to make sure that Leek has identified and correctly commemorated all its war dead from both the First World War and Second World War. It is also thought that this will be the last opportunity to add names in this way.

Leek military historian Chris Sheldon, author of two books telling the story of the war dead commemorated on the memorial, has researched the background Driver Talks.

He said: "Vernon, who was 26, still has family in the Leek area.

"They are quite rightly keen to see his name commemorated for the first time in our town after more than 70 years."

Leek town councillors have already agreed that Driver Talk's name, and the so-far unidentified casualty, will be added to a new plaque to be erected on the front of the memorial.

Mr Sheldon is now urging anyone with any suggestions for any other possible names to contact the town council.

He said: "If it turns out that the suggested names do not 'qualify' for inclusion because the set criteria has not been met, then nothing has been lost.

"At least the circumstances will have been looked at properly. "People must remember though that there are only a few months for suggestions to be researched, and after that it will be too late.

"The new plaque will have to be designed and ordered no later than September this year, and it will not be the type that 'late' names can be added to.

"In practical terms, the end of July should be treated as the deadline for new names to be put forward so that the matter is all carried out properly and in time."

Leek town councillor Pam Wood added: "Applications will include some evidence of a casualty's connection to Leek and that he or she died between August 4, 1914, and November 11, 1918, or between September 3, 1939, and August 15, 1945.

"In the case of anyone dying after either war, the circumstances will still be considered, but a cut-off point will be applied of August 20, 1925, for First World War casualties, and November 6, 1949, for those who died in the Second World War.

"In these cases, it will also be necessary to show that death was due in some way to previous war service.

"In addition, applications are unlikely to succeed if the casualty's name is already commemorated on another free-standing war memorial.

"We don't expect people suggesting new names to have all these details to hand, and that is not a problem as they would be researched by ourselves anyway.

For more information contact the Friends of the Nicholson War Memorial via the Town Clerk, Julie Taylor, 15 Stockwell Street, Leek, ST13 6DH, call 01538 381271 or email julie.taylor@leektowncouncil.co.uk

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