Poignant archive of local men who fought in the First World War digitised by Manx Museum

By Richard Moss | 01 August 2014

Manx Museum has taken delivery of a poignant archive detailing the effect of the First World War on a local community

a photo of a group of young men
St George's Club Circa 1912© Courtesy Manx National Heritage
During the First World War, the Vicar of St George’s Church, in Douglas on the Isle of Man, kept and updated handwritten notes about individual men from his parish away on active service. 

Meticulously scouring the local papers for updates, Canon R D Kermode noted their current whereabouts, if known, as well as whether they were injured, killed or returned home.

The record came to hold many poignant stories of individual men and families caught up in the conflict, and today the notes reveal how men from one parish were scattered and posted many miles from home in different theatres of war.

Many of the men were known to Canon Kermode personally, having connections to the church. Among the 1,466 entries are notes about his postman and his nephew.

Now, after 15 months of hard work by volunteers at Manx National Heritage, the archive has been transcribed with the full content made available online at www.imuseum.im.

A copy of Canon Kermode’s First World War Biographies (St George’s Douglas) has also been presented to the current Archdeacon of St George’s, Venerable Andrew Brown, for display at the church during the First World War Centenary.

The presentation to the Archdeacon was made last week at Manx Museum by Margaret Rattigan with members of the volunteer team. As well as being a volunteer transcriber, Margaret is a member of St George’s Church and found her grandfather’s biography in Canon Kermode’s files.

Some of the servicemen were old Sunday School boys or members of the St George’s Young Men’s (Barrack St) Club. One hundred and forty of the Club’s members enlisted voluntarily and, by the time of the unveiling of a memorial in the clubroom at the Club’s reopening in October 1919, 32 of them were dead.  

The original notes of Canon Kermode, including a 1912 group portrait of Club members, can be consulted in the Manx National Heritage Library and Archives at the Manx Museum (reference MS 10003).

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