IT HAS been a painstaking project but it has shed new light on the local men who died for king and country in the First World War.

Two years ago, David Stewart, of Beaconsfield Road, Cranbourne, Basingstoke, started his research into the names of the 1914-18 fallen who appear on the town’s main war memorial – and he has since found stacks of information through sources such as census records, and birth, deaths and marriage records.

The 47-year-old has also managed to gather information from relatives of Basingstoke’s First World War casualties after he appealed for information, and he has so far spoken to 30 relatives, including people from New Zealand and New York.

In addition, the full-time administrator has been touring churches and tracking down commemorative plaques around the borough to build up a clearer picture of the lives that were lost.

It has been both a costly, sometimes frustrating, but also rewarding experience for David, who has spent nearly £600 buying military records from the National Archives, in London.

He has also received conflicting information during the project. David found that the youngest man listed on the Basingstoke War Memorial was just 15 from his birth records but according to a census, he was 17.

He told The Gazette: “There are 234 names on the war memorial. One family lost four sons, 12 families lost two sons and six families lost three sons, so there were sadly people who lost multiple children.

“I have tried to write an A4 page for each individual from their date of birth, right through to finding their parents names and marriage records and everything I can find until they died, so it is like a mini family tree.

“At the end of the day, it will be good to make an electronic book which I can update with information and will hopefully finish by 2018.

“The main reason I did this was curiosity. I live two minutes from the park and I always walk past the memorial. It is very personal and it can also be so sad.”

David is still looking for information to identify a further seven names on the war memorial – P Dear, F Elliott, J Logan, T Mills, J North, E Roberts and A C Smith.

If you have any information about a relative on the war memorial, contact David on 07411 588 895.