As the centenary of the outbreak of World War One approaches, one Lewisham police officer is on a quest to remember fallen local heroes.
A brass plaque to police officers who served in the ‘Great War’ is currently gathering dust in Catford Police Station, which is only open part-time and is closed at weekends.
But PC Eric Sharples, who joined Lewisham’s licensing office last September, aims to polish the plaque and bring it to central Lewisham Police Station where it can "shine out" and officers can remember those who gave their lives.
The 53-year-old hopes to find surviving relatives of officers who served in ‘P District’, which at the time stretched across Lewisham, Bromley, Dulwich, Peckham and beyond, and hold a rededication ceremony at the plaque’s new home.
PC Sharples, who has served in the Met for 29 years with previous roles including armed protection in central London, told News Shopper: "This plaque seems in the wrong place.
"They shouldn’t be sat in an office that isn’t used very much, but out there where everyone can see and remember.
"These boys were already doing a fantastic job and they signed up to do an even better job - giving their lives.
"What is left of them now is a headstone and we can’t let them be forgotten. They did something for us."
He is appealing to anyone who recognises the names of the officers to get in touch ahead of a "small, poignant" ceremony to be held in August.
PC Sharples said: "I am asking for the people of Lewisham and Bromley’s help.
"It may well be that they don’t want to do anything, but I am sure if it was my great grandfather, I would love to be there."
He is currently researching the histories of the officers, who are buried across France, Belgium and England, and will door-knock families where he has addresses.
Speaking of the importance of the plaque being placed in Lewisham, he said: "It will be great for the borough, for the relatives and for the station.
"Younger officers can walk past it and understand what it is.
"Let’s face it, for the younger generation, it’s not at the top of what to remember because people sometimes try and forget it.
"By highlighting the plaque it will mean more to them afterwards, to realise these men were doing the same job they are doing but at a time of war.
"I hope I can open their eyes. I will polish it up and it will shine out."
Below is a list of officers on the memorial plaque who died during World War One. If you are a relative or have any information, please get in touch with PC Sharples at Eric.S.Sharples@met.pnn.police.uk
- Brockley PC Robert Thomas Haspinall
- Sydenham PC Thomas Knight
- Sydenham PC Ernest Philip Bowell, lived in Forest Hill with wife Winifred Daisy Hall.
- Lewisham PC Ernest Walter Major
- Lewisham PC John Arthur Barrow
- Lewisham PC John William Ivey
- Penge PC Richard Naves, lived in Forest Hill with wife Lily May Naves.
- Camberwell PC Thomas J Wilson. Lived in Catford with wife Ruth Wilson.
- Bromley PC E.G. Lawrence
- Bromley PC G Matthews
- Peckham PC James Woodland
- Gipsy Hill PC Fred Stubley
- Peckham PC Frank Allan Bartlett
- Camberwell PC A. Alexander
- West Dulwich PC E. Hughes
- Peckham PC J. Hayes
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