Hunt for relatives of First World War soldiers commemorated on plaque in church, now to be sold

Southend Methodist Church, Bedford.
Southend Methodist Church, Bedford.

A church in Bedford is appealing for help in tracing the relatives of six soldiers who died in the First World War who are commemorated on a brass plaque.

The Southend Methodist Church, which closed in January after occupying a prominent place on Ampthill Road since opening in 1873, is now being sold which has prompted the search. Richard Ward, property officer for the North Bedfordshire Methodist Circuit said: “I am arranging for the brass plaque to be relocated at Kempston East Methodist Church. As it’s 2014 - 100 years since the start of the First World War I am looking to have it rededicated in time for Remembrance Day in November, which is fitting. If you look at the date of death of Herbert Chillery who fell on October 1, 1918 - just over a month from the end of the war - it’s very sad and very poignant.”

The six men are listed on the dedicaton as Thomas W Billingham, Royal Engineers; Herbert K Chillery, Suffolk Regiment; Richard F Chillery, Bedfordshire Regiment; William Freeman, Bedfordshire Regiment; Edmund Lilley, Royal Engineers; and Frank R Notley, Royal Fusiliers.

Richard added: “I have already traced a grand-daughter of Herbert Chillery who was the son of Frederick and Hilda Chillery, of Bedford. He left a wife, Lizzie Jane Chillery of Eastville Road, Bedford. But I can’t yet prove whether the Chillerys listed were brothers and I’m appealing to your readers for any information they may have so I can invite the realatives to the re-dedication.” Contact Arshad ‘Ash’ Mir on 01234 271 599.