HISTORIAN Chas Townley has been meticulously documenting the lives of the 14 servicemen from World War One who are buried in Stroud cemetery.

Chas, who is also a Labour district councillor for Uplands, hopes to compile a book to commemorate their lives.

The detailed research has produce a compassionate and moving insight into their lives.

“I had assumed, perhaps somewhat naively, that all the servicemen had died from injuries received in battle,” said Chas.

“Sadly half of them died from diseases such as influenza and pneumonia and another four succumbed from the after-effects of tuberculosis.”

The poignant stories include a soldier who was cycling while home on leave and was killed by a careless teenager on a pony and trap.

There is also a haunting suicide of a former sportsman turned soldier wracked by frostbite and mental illness.

George Townsend, who served as part of the 9th (Service) Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, died aged just 27.

His military career began when he was just 14 and he fought in the First Battle of Ypres.

George’s tragic records show that he applied, and was turned down for, a pension in 1919.

The medical board believed that the frostbite was George’s fault, and although he also suffered from rheumatism and arthritis, he received no pension.

Sadly, Chas discovered that Townsend took his life at home in Stroud the following year.

Newspaper reports show that prior to the war George had been a great athlete who played football for Stroud.

One particular story which stood out for Chas concerned the treatment of the children of soldier William Webb.

They lost both parents in a matter of weeks and were left in the care of workhouse guardians.

Chas’ draft publication gives a devastating insight into what life was like for the servicemen of the Stroud Valleys before, during and after the war.

The SNJ will be publishing some of the biographies online on Sunday and in future editions of the paper.

If anyone has information about the estimated 80 WW1 servicemen buried in the 30 cemeteries around the Stroud valleys please email tla@stroudnewsandjournal.co.uk