Each year on Remembrance Sunday there is a moving ceremony at the Village War Memorial when those from Rayne who died in the First and Second World Wars are remembered. Part of this ceremony is the reading out of the names. Stand and listen, and hear for example "Edward Hance, George Hance, Samuel Hance". What must it have been like for a family from one small village to lose three members.
So, I decided to try to find out more about the men who are named on our War Memorial and others who were killed in the two wars but are not named on the Memorial. Modem technology, especially the Internet, gave access to records which would in previous times have taken years of research. Now, it is possible to access the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records from home. Other sources of information have been invaluable - information from the Essex Record Office is particularly useful - and I have had help from many people.
Principal of those is Barry Mouser who has given a great deal of assistance in checking records and has supplied the 'theatre of war" section. Fred and Dave Woods provided some vital clues which helped uncover more data. David Lancaster, Ron Gage and Sam Marriage have all helped in filling in some background to many of the long established village families. But there are two people who really deserve credit. The first was the one who got me started, Roger Hasler, who came into possession of some documents from a relative killed in the First World War. Roger prompted a visit to Flanders fields, Ypres, the Mennin Gate, and St Georges Church in Ypres, and it was this which really set me to work. The second is my wife Beryl, whose enthusiasm for the project took off and resulted in her spending many hours in the Essex Record Office looking through old records, and gradually piecing together a picture of the families from which these brave men came.
It was never my intention to write a book about Rayne's heroes, only to try to provide some better picture of the thirty nine men listed on the War Memorial. That I hope I have been able to achieve. If anyone wished to take this research further, then I am more than happy to share with them all the information which I have collected.
Since this project started, more information has been received. In some cases, it is confirming what has already been found, in others clarifying some loose ends. There have also been some welcome additions to the photo aspect with pictures of the men who fell in the War.
Most recently, Alan Birch and Richard Bale have added some names to the Roll of Honour – men from Rayne who for whatever reason, are not commemorated on the Memorial.
And back to the Hance family. They were three brothers, sons of George and Julia Hance who lived in The Gore. In July 1915, George was killed in Belgium aged 27; in July 1916 Edward was killed in the Somme aged 26; in May 1917 Samuel was killed near Arras aged 30. Three sons, all dead within three years.
"At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them"