Sidmouth’s forgotten war hero finally honoured with dedication service in parish church on Friday

This picture of Garnett was part of an album with pictures of Sid Valley residents killed in the Fir

This picture of Garnett was part of an album with pictures of Sid Valley residents killed in the First World War. It was donated by the War Memorial club to Sidmouth Museum, although it is not known who put the album together. - Credit: Archant

‘It will be a proud day for our family’ - Ian Collins, great nephew of Garnett Oldrey

Sidmouth’s forgotten war hero will be honoured with a dedication ceremony in the parish church on Friday - exactly 100 years after his death.

Garnett Oldrey died in action on February 3, 1917, at the age of 19 – but, due to an administrative error, his name was not included alongside 60 others from the town who lost their lives in World War One.

His great nephew, Ian Collins launched an appeal two years ago – with the help of the Herald – for his relative to be remembered by the town he loved.

Mr Collins said he and his family are ‘delighted’ that Garnett - who is described as a ‘brave soldier who died a hero’s death’ – is now properly honoured with a memorial plaque in Sidmouth Parish Church.

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They will be attending a special service in the church at 10am on Friday (February 3), where the Reverend Dr Philip Bourne will carry out a dedication to Garnett.

Anyone is welcome to attend and pay their respects.

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Speaking in November last year, Mr Collins said: “I got in touch with Sidmouth Parish Church and through the tireless work of Malcolm Steward [a member of the Parochial Church Council] - who I can’t praise highly enough - we finally have a new memorial plaque to be installed.

“My mother Eileen Collins (nee Oldrey), who is Garnett’s niece, is delighted and can’t believe her uncle will finally take his place among other heroes of Sidmouth who have paid the ultimate price for their country.

“We cannot wait to see in person the new plaque when we travel to Sidmouth for the blessing. It will be a proud day for our family.”

Born in Sidmouth, Garnett lived with his parents in Mill Street before signing up for military service with his elder brother – Ian’s grandfather, William Oldrey.

Both men served in the 1st/4th Battalion Devonshire Regiment, and were deployed to Mesopotamia – now Iraq – to fight the Ottoman army.

Garnett died fighting in the trenches and is buried alongside nearly 5,000 British and Indian allies at the Amara War Cemetery in southern Iraq.

It is believed William was injured and invalided home during the same battle.

The parish church received a grant front the War Memorials Trust to help towards the cost of the new plaque.

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