IT WAS a simple and poignant gesture but it meant so much.
On Monday night, Mick Smith was among a group of people who placed floral tributes in memory of Basingstoke and Deane people who lost their lives in the First World War.
Mick, who is 73, and other members of the congregation placed the tributes next to a war memorial in St Michael’s Church, in Basingstoke town centre.
Mick – who lost five members of his family during the 1914-18 conflict – was also among those who gave a reading at a special civic service which marked the centenary of the start of the First World War.
Grandfather-of-two Mick, who lives in Knight Street, Brookvale, also read an extract from the Bible entitled “Jesus weeps over the city of Jerusalem” to the congregation who gathered in St Michael’s Church, in Basingstoke, for the special service of commemoration.
The 73-year-old said that five of his relatives – two grandfathers, his great uncle and his grand- mother’s two cousins – lost their lives in the 1914-18 conflict.
His grandfather George Smith, who was 33 when he was killed during battle in Cambrai, France, on October 9, 1918, was a member of the Coldstream Guards after signing up to fight in 1916.
Mick’s other grandfather Sidney Phillips was a member of the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry after joining the army in August 1915. He also died in Cambrai, aged 29, in 1917.
Mick’s great uncle James Harrison died in Gallipoli, Turkey, in August 1915. The 24-year-old had joined the Royal Hampshire Regiment in September, 1914.
Mick’s grandmother’s two cousins died in the same place, on the same day. George Tigwell, who was born in 1892, and brother William, who was two years younger, both signed up to the Hampshire Regiment in 1913. The pair were drafted to fight in Mesopotamia, which is in modern-day Iraq, in October that year. They were sadly killed in Basra on January 21, 1916.
Mick told The Gazette that he was glad he decided to find out more about the fate of his relatives, adding: “It is quite sad. I knew about my grand-fathers and my great uncle, but my son-in-law’s dad has done some research and found out about my grandmother’s two cousins, who were killed on the same day.
“It is very interesting for my family and for my grandchildren, and I am glad that I have found more information.
“All of their names are on the Basingstoke war memorial, which is nice. I feel honoured that I was asked to read the extract, and it was a lovely service.”