During Evensong on Sunday 4 September before Nunney Church closes for several months, four Nunney men who died during World War I will be remembered.
The service will take place at 6pm and commemorates the 100th anniversaries of the deaths of the four local men.
Private, of Nunney and Frome, 6th Battalion Prince Albert’s (Somerset Light Infantry) who died on 29 August 1916.
Private John Veasey was born in Nunney and lived in Frome. Before he joined up he was secretary of the Frome Brotherhood Band, of which he was one of the founder members. He was also a member of the Frome Town Band for some time.
John joined the National Reserves at Frome soon after the outbreak of the war and volunteered with the first-class for active service. He went to Plymouth for his training.
He was here until July 1915, when he crossed over to France. He had therefore been at the front fro some 13 months when he died.
Private John Veasey was killed in action early on the morning of 29 August while “performing very useful but dangerous work”.
He left behind a widow and a young child.
Henry Tom Preece
Lance Corporal, of Nunney, 20th Battalion of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps, who died on 3 September 1916.
Born in Nunney as the second son to Tom and Sarah Preece, of the Market Place, Nunney, and husband of Mrs H.T. Preece of Nunney.
Henry joined the Royal Rifle Corps in January 1916, landing at Le Havre. He was wounded on 25 July 1916, as a member of a wiring party, erecting barbed wire obstacles. He received a gunshot wound in the abdomen, which also injured his spinal cord and back.
At the time Henry Preece was wounded, Sergt J.H. Stevens of the same platoon wrote to Henry’s wife: “Dear Madam, I regret to say your husband, Lance-Corpl. Preece, was slightly wounded this morning (25th). I understand it is only slight. He sent back word for me to write to you, on the way to the dressing station, so you need not worry as he is now in hospital.”
“I was not with him when it happened. I must tell you, not because he is your husband, but he was a good and fearless soldier. I should be glad to hear from you at any time to hear how your husband is going on. Accept my deep sympathy.”
He was admitted to the South African hospital at the base. After several days he was transferred to Netley Hospital in the UK, where he died.
He was buried in the churchyard at All Saints Church in Nunney. A firing party from Sutton Veny, Wiltshire, of the 2nd/7th London’s, fired three volleys over his grave.
He had a brother, Walter Preece, in the Wiltshire Regiment. Walter was killed in action a month earlier.
Henry left behind a widow and four young children, the youngest of which he never saw.
Sidney Isaac West
Private, of Nunney, 6th Battalion Prince Albert’s of the Somerset Light Infantry, who died on 16 September 1916.
Sydney West was born in Coleford, Somerset, as the son of Albert and Elizabeth West (née Moon). Albert was a coal miner. They had seven children, of which Sydney was the eldest of two boys.
Sydney too worked as a coal miner. He maried Mary Herrington in 1897 and lived at Frome Road in Nunney. They had five children.
Sydney West enlisted at Frome and went to France on 8 September 1915 with the 6th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry.
He was killed during an attack on Gird Trench, northeast of Fliers, on 16 September 1916, aged 42. He is commemorated on the Nunney and Frome War Memorials.
Percy George Gifford
Private, of Nunney, 7th Battalion Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, who died on 2 October 1916.
Percy was born in Sparkford, Somerset, and was the second son to George and Emma Gifford, of Woodbine Villa, Trudoxhill.
Formerly 17155, Somerset Light Infantry, serving for seven years in the army in India, Ceylon and south Africa. On leaving the army joined the Frome troop of the North Somerset Yeomanry. Percy has been back in civilian life for ten years when was broke out, so rejoined soon after the war started, going to the Western Front in the early stages.
Wounded in the hand, he was hospitalised for several months on the Isle of Wight and returned to the Western Front in June 1916.
Percy had a good tenor voice and was a member of the Marston Church Choir and Frome Male Voice Choir. He was a bell ringer at Marston Church.
Percy Gifford as killed in action on 2 October 1916 at the age of 38. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.
Evensong / Nunney Remembers starts at 6pm on Sunday 4 September in All Saints Church Nunney. This is the final service before the church closes to install a new nave roof and four dormer windows. The church is expected to reopen around Easter 2017.
Source: David L. Adams, Frome’s Fallen Heroes and Steve Thomas