The commemoration of the First World War has reignited interest in Flora Sandes, the only British woman to officially fight on the front line and has prompted renewed calls for a tribute to remember her locally.
Aside from the Flora Sandes pub which closed, Flora is little remember in this country but in Serbia where she fought in the Royal Serbian Army she is remembered as a heroine and a street in Belgrade is named after her.
Flora, who lived in Thornton Heath opposite St Paul’s
Church, had a life packed with action and adventure long before going in to combat.
When JD Wetherspoon closed the Flora Sandes it pledged £1,000 towards a war chest to create a mural or statute to honour Flora. The council are also considering a plaque on the house where she lived.
Louise Miller who wrote book A Fine Brother: The Life Of Captain Flora Sandes is also keen to get involved in a memorial or an event to honour this amazing woman. Sunday November 11 will mark exactly hundred years since the signing of The Armistice at the end of World War One.
In Thornton Heath St. Paul’s Church, has an impressive War Memorial which contains a beautifully illustrated book listing the names of members of the armed forces from Thornton Heath who were killed during WW1 and WW2.
During the Service of Remembrance on November 11 the names in the Book of Remembrance will all be read, and poppies placed on the Memorial remembering all those who have died in conflicts, both from Thornton Heath and further afield.
This year the service is being supported by the Armistice and Armed Forces Community Programme who are providing silhouettes from ‘There but not There’. These silhouettes, that are appearing in public places all up and down the country, are a very powerful reminder of those who never came home. The presence of these silhouettes in St. Paul’s will create a visual demonstration of the gaps that were left in the Thornton Heath community at the end of the war.
Gill Borthwick, the Licensed Reader at St. Paul’s and a history enthusiast, has been doing research into the people who are named in the Book of Remembrance. A booklet containing the details she has found will be available to those attending the Service of Remembrance.
The St. Paul’s service will start at 10.30am and will be followed by refreshments in the church hall. The church is especially interested in hearing from anyone who has served, or is serving, in the Armed Forces who may wish to attend and participate in the service.
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