Fundraising walk to honour First World War tunnellers from Ashfield and Mansfield

A group of people dedicated to the upkeep of war memorials are going on a sponsored fundraising walk to honour the tunnellers of the First World War from Nottinghamshire.

Around 20 group members of the War Memorial Maintenance Association (WMMW) will take part in a six mile walk around churches in Ashfield.

Gail Turner of the War Memorial Maintenance Association (WMMW) said: A lot of the tunnellers were from Nottinghamshire, predominantly miners, they went from here to the trenches and tunnelle under no-mans land .

“It must have been dreadful job and a lot of them died.

The starting point for the walk on Friday (June 7) is at the RAF memorial on the A608, Annesley and will take in various churches, including St Johns at Kirkby Wood House at Kirkby and St Wilfreds Church before returning to Ashfield District Council’s offices in Kirkby for a reception.

Two of the walkers Lisa Cripps and Jeanette Stafford are descendants of John Thomas Cutts, a Nottinghamshire tunneller.

Gail Turner added: “The reason why we have chosen to honour the tunnellers on 7th June is. At 3.30 am on 7/6/1917 990,000 pounds of explosives went off under German positions, demolishing a large part of Hill 60. Hill 60 lies between Ypres and Ploegsteert in Belgium.

“The Australians detonated the explosives but this was the end result of months of work by different tunnelling companies, and these companies included Nottinghamshire miners.”

“There is no authority who is actually obliged by law to maintain war memorials which is outrageous . We are trying to raise money to make sure they are kept in good condition.”

The War Memorials Maintenance Association (WMMA) was formed in 2018 by a group of Ashfield residents, whose aim is to raise money to help in the upkeep of existing memorials and to recover orphan memorials.

Money raised will be spent on the work, as there are none of the overheads associated with so many charitable organisations.

The Association works closely with every other charity and organisation concerned with the solemn and binding duty of remembrance, whether they be a cash-strapped local authority, a military support charity, or bodies such as the War Memorial Trust. Funds will be raised by any and every means.

There is a War Memorials Maintenance Association page on Facebook, and on the charitable donation website ‘Just Giving’ or email: wmma1918@yahoo.com