Kenilworth’s forgotten victims of the Great War

Alice and Kate Hopkins, who died in 1915
Alice and Kate Hopkins, who died in 1915

Kenilworth’s forgotten victims of the First World War who died in 1915 are set to be remembered at the town’s Remembrance Sunday service on Sunday November 8 after historian Susan Tall’s research.

Currently, there are 18 people on the town’s war memorial in Abbey Fields, but Susan, who specialises in the history of this time period, is researching all individuals who may have a claim to having their names added to it.

An example of Susan’s findings include two Kenilworth sisters who died on the ‘Lusitania’ transatlantic passenger ship in May 1915.

Alice and Kate Hopkins, who lived in Henry Street, had emigrated from the UK to work in America and were returning to attend their sister’s wedding when the ship, one of the largest of its kind, was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the southern coast of Ireland, killing them both.

Their brother, Ernest Hopkins, lost his life in 1918 and his name is already on the memorial.

The sinking of the ‘Lusitania’ was a controversial event of the Great War, with some historians claiming that Britain knowingly placed the ship in danger to bait an attack from a U-boat, hoping to use the sinking to get the USA to join the war effort, which it did two years later.

Another man who will be remembered is Private Thomas Dilworth, who lived and worked in the town before enlisting in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

He is buried in St Omer Cemetery, France, but his name is not recorded on any local memorial, although his cousin, Albert Edward Dilworth, is named on the Kenilworth memorial.

Pvt Dilworth fought in France in February 1915 and died of wounds sustained in battle four months later.

Finally, the First Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers are set to be remembered at the service.

Although not from the town itself, soldiers from the regiment were billeted in Kenilworth in March 1915 before being sent to fight in the unsuccessful Gallipoli campaign in Turkey, where very many lost their lives.

The names of all these new victims will be read out at the service alongside the names of those already known to have been killed in action or died in 1915 by Cllr George Illingworth, the Chairman of Kenilworth British Legion, following on from last year where the victims who died in 1914 were announced.

The town mayor, Cllr Michael Coker, will also be present at the ceremony.

Susan hopes to complete her research by 2018, the centenary of the end of the First World War.