Private James “Henry” Jennings, the WW1 soldier from St Agnes who is the subject of our new short film ‘Cornish Tommies’, is to be commemorated with a headstone on his unmarked grave.
To celebrate and commemorate the Centenary of Armistice Day, C Fylm commissioned a young undergraduate team and school and college pupils to get involved in telling and learning about Cornwall’s First World War stories. The Cornish Tommies project is bringing together local people throughout Cornwall to preserve the memories and heritage of Cornish families who lived through the Great War.
The film has already had several successful showings and will be shown again at St Agnes Miners and Mechanics Institute on Monday 12th November at 7.30pm.
After a chance discovery in Redruth Library of a memoire written by his nephew Martin Sawle (now 86), the Cornish Tommies film tells the true story of Henry, a young Cornish miner called up to serve in the trenches in the last year of the First World War. With help from archivists, curators, experts and student volunteers, Cornish Tommies presents the story of a Cornish mining family caught up in the war.
Henry was wounded and fought valiantly at his post, even after twice being hit by rifle fire, until his Lewis gun was damaged so badly it was rendered useless. He was evacuated to England and was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Assisted by researcher Clare Murton, Curator at St Agnes Museum, the Cornish Tommies team realised that there is no memorial to Jennings in the Chapel graveyard. He is buried there in an unmarked grave, along with his mother and sisters. St Agnes Parish Council, whose burial clerk Annette Tippett had assisted with the research, heard the story and agreed they would like to fund the installation of a headstone. They felt this would not only honour Jennings 36 years after his death, but would also be a symbol of the Council’s recognition of all those from their Parish who served who may not have a marked burial place.
On Saturday 10th November at noon, Cornish Tommies film Director Gemma Wearing, researcher Clare Murton and local councillors will join Private Jennings’ nephews and their family at a visit to the memorial stone in the Chapel of Rest cemetery in St Agnes.
To discover more about St Agnes Parish Great War memories visit St Agnes Museum and to find out more about the Cornish Tommies film, including information about screenings all over Cornwall, visit www.cfylm.co.uk.