The War Memorial in Keevil sits outside of St Leonard’s Church in the area now used as a turning area and church car park.
War Memorial refurbishment
The Parish Council has received a quotation of £850 plus VAT to refurbish the War Memorial. The War Memorial Reserve stood at £1,400 so it was decided not to apply for an Area Board grant. Flower planting has just taken place on the War Memorial surround so it was decided to delay any works until the Autumn so as not to damage the plants.
The following report was prepared by the Clerk when the Parish Council assumed ownership and responsibility for the maintenance of the War Memorial:
“Keevil War memorial was built after the First World War and the construction costs were raised by public subscription. It was dedicated on 26th June 1920 by the Rt. Hon. Walter Long. 65,000 War Memorials were built after World War 1, mostly by public subscription. They were erected on donated land but no funds were raised for maintenance and nobody actually “owned” a large number of them.
As a result, many memorials were demolished when they became too dangerous to be left standing. To prevent further loss of War Memorials, the government passed several Acts giving local authorities powers to maintain, repair and ultimately to assume ownership of War Memorials where no responsible person or body could be identified.
In 2006, the late Alan Thomsett assisted by the Parish Clerk, George Goodwin, researched Keevil’s War Memorial and was unable to discover any evidence of ownership by anybody. Therefore, Keevil Parish Council passed a resolution assuming ownership of the War Memorial.
After some minor maintenance and replanting, the Parish Council decided that the War memorial should be cleaned and restored. Specialist contractors were identified with the assistance of the War Memorial Trust and a report was produced on the memorial’s condition and recommended maintenance. It was estimated that the works would cost about £1,800 plus VAT. The Parish Council had set aside some funds for the work and applied to the Melksham Area Board for a 50/50 grant to complete the funding required. The grant was approved in July and the work was carried out in mid-September.
The War memorial stone work was cleaned using an environmentally friendly non-abrasive process, some mortar was replaced and the cleaned stone was then coated in a protective wax. The coating will need replacing every 3 to 5 years to protect the stone work from the weather. The name plates were cleaned with hot linseed oil and are now free of mould etc and are again clearly readable.
Keevil residents now have a restored War memorial that will be the centre of our Armistice commemoration and which is a true memorial to the local people who gave their lives in two World Wars.”
World War I
A Book of Keevil Vol II p 49 describes the parish in World War I and in particular the Roll of Honour listing those who served in the Armed Services during this War. The purpose was to recognise that men from the area were serving in the Army or Navy and to also encourage others to volunteer.
Sadly, when examining the list of names and knowing the massive numbers of casualties, a total of 18 men from the parish lost their lives. Their names are engraved on the lower plinths
George Dixon, 1st Wiltshire Regiment
Albert Wareham, 1st Wiltshire Regiment
Frank Bodman, 2nd Wiltshire Regiment
James Andrews, 4th Wiltshire Regiment
George Hicks, 4th Wiltshire Regiment
Jacob Bodman, Leading Seaman Royal Navy
Herbert Swanborough, Royal Navy
Frederick Clifford, Royal Garrison Artillery
Victor Clifford, Royal Garrison Artillery
Herbert Ludlow, Sergeant 1st Wiltshire Regiment
Edward Jeffries, Machine Gun Corp
Thomas Ludlow, Royal Army Service Corp
Edward Gilbert, Royal Berks Regiment
Stephen O’Leary, Wiltshire Training Reserves
Robert H Lane, Lance Corporal Worcester Regiment
Leonard Griffin, Somerset Light Infantry
Frederick C Wilmutt, 1st Hants Regiment
William C Gumm, Royal West Kent Regiment
World War II
It is well known that RAF Keevil played a major part during the 1939-45 conflict. The airfield still has the remnants of many of the former buildings and in particular the hanger used to build Spitfires, still stands and is in use adjacent to Steeple Ashton.
RAF Keevil was also known for its significant part in the D Day and Arnhem operations. A Book of Keevil Vol II contains many detailed accounts of the use of the airfield, the differing stories of the crewmen and women and many wonderful photographs.
Keevil’s War Memorial is not directly dedicated to the men who lost their lives in these operations who were not from the Parish but sadly there was the need to add names to the additional plinth.
M. Leonard Gingell, Royal Artillery
George E Perrett, Royal Pioneer Corp