We are always delighted to be contacted by family members of men on our war memorial. Sometimes this brings treasures of information and occassional photos. Imagine how pleased we were to be contacted in the last two weeks by two families sharing their photos and memories of Arthur Haxell and Walter Perfitt.
Arthur Haxell was a stoker in the Royal Navy when he died at 19 years old, not at sea, but within 20 miles or so from home. He was on shore duty at Chatham and his family must have thought he was safe from the war at that time. On the night of 3rd September 1917, Gotha airplanes dropped bombs over Chatham. One directly hit the Drill Hall, shattering the glass roof over Arthur and 900 men sleeping below. 98 men died during the raid and a further 38 later. Many more were left with devastating injuries.
Walter Perfitt, known as Wally to his friends, was a railway worker before the war. He was married to Eliza and they had a young daughter, Mary. His family today have shared the anecdote that he was at one point, a top, bare-knuckle street fighter. He fought another contender for the “title” of top fighter at Welling Corner, where the Russian cannon is now situated. The fight lasted three-quarters of an hour with neither man able to defeat the other, so they shook hands and went to the pub! Sadly, his fighting prowess did not protect him in the war. Wally was hit by a machine gun bullet, uttered “I’ve got it,” lost consciousness and died.
You can read the full stories by following the links above.
Our thanks to the families for giving us permission to publish this material.