TOCKHOLES may be only a small, scattered village on the moors above Blackburn and Darwen, but it has a surprising number of memorials to the WWI fallen.

There are more than 40 family graves in the cemetery attached to St Stephen’s Church, which record the deaths of young men from the area in the years of the Great War.

Judith Jacklin, who has just published a book entitled Lest We Forget, about the memorials, believes many of them had no direct connection with Tockholes.

From the mid-1800s, most churches in the country did not have their own burial grounds after local authorities had been ordered to create cemeteries to ease pressure on the limited land around old churches. St Stephen’s would have been very popular.

Most young soldiers were buried where they fell, but 11 are buried in the churchyard.

The lack of a local connection in many cases has made it difficult for Judith to research all the men mentioned in memorials at St Stephen’s and recorded on the plaque on the altar table and on the chapel’s lych gate.

She said: “Many of the local lads who were killed or badly wounded would today probably have been still at school or college at that age.”

It had been difficult to trace some details with certainty but she is pleased with how the book has turned out.

Two brothers are recorded on the altar table plaque – James and John Turner. And their stories show just how harrowing the war was for family members back home.

Their parents, John Thomas and Sarah, and younger siblings lived on a farm at the top of Bog Height Road near the Black Bull.

James was listed as missing after the initial attack of the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 and in late October his desperate parents wrote to the Darwen News.

They would, said the report, “be very pleased to hear, from any soldier, news of their son.”

On the following February they did receive official notification of the death, from wounds in Mesopotamia, of another son, John who was with the East Lancashire Regiment. He was 21.

The agony of not knowing the fate of James went on. The Darwen News report on John's death concluded: “Another son of Mr and Mrs Turner has not been heard of since last year, crossing the parapet on the now historic first of July.”

Nineteen-year-old Tom Warren, who lived at Ewood, was rejected as ‘under standard’ when he tried to sign up with the Kings Own Scottish Borderers in Blackburn soon after the war started. Hardly surprising as he was barely 5ft 3in and weighed not much over seven stone.

Undaunted, a month later he joined the Royal West Kents and fought bravely until he was fatally wounded in the Somme offensive.

Every grave in this little village has a story to tell and Judith tells them with a great attention to detail in her book Lest We Forget, which has been published by the Friends of St Stephen’s Churchyard to commemorate the centenary year of the outbreak of the Great War.

It costs £3.50 and can be obtained from Darwen Library, St. Stephen’s Church or from Judith.

n This weekend will be a busy one in the village. On Friday in the church at 1.30pm Stephen Irwin from Blackburn Museum will be giving a talk and showing artefacts and on Saturday there will be stalls and an exhibition from 11am to 4pm.

At 1pm in church the Rev Douglas Moore will lead an act of commemoration with a two-minute silence and it will be followed by a poetry recital by Jim Atherton.