MYSELF" by Marilyn Stephenson-Knight
My favourite subject at school was French.
Thatís proving very useful while Iím researching for the Dover
War Memorial Project. But as founder and leader of the Project I perhaps
shouldnít admit that the subject I liked least was history!
Fate has a strange way of thumbing its nose though - because
throughout my adult life Iíve worked constantly with the past.
But Iíve never taken the main road Ė itís the byways and lanes
of our cultural history that fascinate me, and Iíve researched
areas from the modern remnants of industrial traditions right
back to social interpretations of archaeological remains.
Whether itís being female that makes me see
different perspectives, or whether itís because Iím just plain
contrary, Iíve always bucked against authorised versions too,
aiming constantly to give expression to the muted voice. Perhaps
thatís one of the reasons why I donít believe the Romans did
much for us! Currently in exile in Milton Keynes, Iím a Dovorian
born and bred, and my ancestors are traceable in the town back
to the 1600s. But I havenít always looked backwards.
Occasionally I extended the family tree in the other direction
too, and so I have three daughters. They survived my maternal
ministrations and have grown up to be fulfilled individuals, of
whom Iím disgracefully proud. .
This article first appeared in the
Grammar School for Girls Newsletter for
Member of The Kent Family History Society, 8336
Member of The Dover Society, 995
Member of The Western Heights Preservation Society, 522
Friend of The Few - Shoreham Aircraft Museum, 371
Member of The Catweazle Fan Club, 515 (Salmay, Dalmay, Adonay!)
pictures: above right, Marilyn and Mum at Dover
left, Maggie, by daughter Helena
right: Kirkweazle, at the Catweazle Weekend 2007, Brickendonbury
Further notes: I began the Dover War Memorial Project on
Remembrance Sunday, 11th November 2006. Standing in the still
November air, during the silence, I thought about my two great
great uncles named on the memorial. I knew who they were, what had happened
to them, and what they had left behind. But what of all the
others? It was then that I understood that, with the passing of
the years, those who had been loved, lost, and deeply mourned,
would become no more than a list of names on a stone or in a
book. I determined that this should not happen, and that in
honour, in loving memory and respect, I would create memorials
for them so that they could be remembered as the people they
It has been a long, long trail, and there are many leagues yet
to go. From the first discovery of the minutest details to the
staggering experience of standing for the first time at a war
cemetery, where a foreign field grows a crop of white
gravestones into the very horizon; from seeing, hunched in a
quiet archive remote from the world, the first pictures of our
casualties, staring back at me from dulling paper, to learning
how Dover reverberated with the distress of those, sometimes
tens at a time, who were suddenly bereaved; from reading letters from
the Front, brave letters speaking little of the troubles but
sending love to all at home, to seeing the sad black-edged
mourning cards for those who no longer could send their love,
yet were loved still, I have sat quietly with tears, stood
astounded at bravery and devotion, and wondered always what it
all meant, and why, and how.
These are questions still I cannot answer. Perhaps it doesn't
matter. But what I can answer is why I, and all the lovely
people who help on our Dover War Memorial Project, do what we
do. It is through remembrance, gratitude, and a determination
that the promise made on our behalf, by generations before, will
be kept. We shall not forget. It is my hope that those
people we lost, those who no longer have a voice, may yet speak
to us all, through this Virtual Memorial and through all the
events we hold in their honour and remembrance, and will remind us of
who they were, and what we will forever owe, when they became no
illustration: Post-War: What We Will Forever
Owe. A new life, a new generation, a family together
enjoying a peaceful day trip to the miniature Romney, Hythe and
Dymchurch Railway. Here are Alfie Webb, formerly Atlantic
convoys, and his wife Vera, formerly munitions worker, with
their son Michael, born ten months after VE Day.
The railway saw war service too, carrying troops to and from
their billets, and suffering severe war wounds during the
construction of Pluto, the fuel pipeline under the ocean. There
was even a miniature armoured train, ready to help repel any
invasion, drawn by Hercules, the locomotive that in 1927 pulled
the first train ever to run on the line at its opening in 1927.
From its early days the railway was involved in war work; in
1929 was constructed a dedicated line to aircraft-detection
mirrors, carrying staff daily, and terminating at War Department
The engine in the picture is "Christopher Syn". It's named after
the fictional Reverend Doctor Syn, also known as the Scarecrow,
leader of smugglers on the 18th century Marsh.
Maggie S-K's Casualties
Maggie knows of two great great uncles lost in the Great War.
Coulson Crascall (known as Harry) and
Edward Crascall, his
brother (Eddie) are both named on the Dover Town War Memorial.
They were the brothers of Maggie's great-grandmother, Mrs
Elizabeth Easton (left).
Mrs Easton's aunt's husband,
Wellard, is also commemorated on the Town War Memorial.
The third great uncle was the brother of Maggie's grandfather,
Alexander Webb. His name was Alfred Horace Webb, and after him
Maggie's father, Alfred Harold Webb, was named. Alfred
Horace Webb is remembered
Maggie also has a first cousin twice removed on the Town
Memorial. This was
Gatehouse, son of her great-grandfather's sister. Another
first cousin twice removed (daughter of her great-grandmother's
brother) lost her husband,
Willis Collier, who is commemorated in the WWII Book of
connections were discovered during research for the Dover War
Memorial Project; Maggie suspects that further casualties from
also prove to be relations. In the meantime, Maggie has
discovered another ten men who Fell in both wars connected with
her family, including six cousins of her paternal grandmother,
some of whom are commemorated on the War Memorial at Dartford
Maggie is putting online
her family tree
(when work on the Dover War Memorial Project permits!)