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CWGC to open its treasured archives to the public

27 October 2016

The CWGC will open its archives to the public on Friday, November 25, as part of the national Explore Your Archive campaign.

The project, which starts nationally on November 16, is encouraging people to discover the past stories, facts, places and people who were once at the heart of their communities. Archives across the UK and Ireland are taking part to raise awareness of the value of historical artefacts, often rich in variety.

The CWGC has planned a fascinating afternoon of curios, documents, films, journals and paper cuttings all about their commemoration of the war dead from both world wars.

On the day, there will be archive and historical talks by CWGC staff, original copies of artefacts such as letters from Winston Churchill, Rudyard Kipling and King George V, as well as a film about the Commission and a chance to speak to the CWGC experts.

The free event, which will run from 1.30pm to 4pm, will be held at CWGCs head office on Marlow Road in Maidenhead. Those wishing to attend should register their interest online at Eventbrite, by November 24. Refreshments will be available.

There are many people who fought in both world wars who came from Maidenhead or made the town and its surrounding areas their home.

One such person was Helen Maud Peel of the Voluntary Aid Detachment. Helen was a motor driver in France and was sent home to England after falling seriously ill. She died at the age of 22 on December 13, 1917. Records state she died from ‘overstrain’.

Helen is buried at Sunninghill (Holy Trinity) Churchyard. She was the daughter of William Charles and Augusta Peel, of Fairview, Sunninghill.

Her brother, Major Home Peel, of the London Regiment (Post Office Rifles), died almost three months after on March 24, 1918. He is buried at Guards’ Cemetery, Lesboeufs, France and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Military Cross.

There is also Sapper Charles William Lacey, of the Royal Engineers, who died 100 years ago this month, aged just 24. He is buried in Maidenhead Cemetery.

Charles was born in Maidenhead on May 7, 1892 to Thomas and Annie Frances of 13 New Garden Cottages and had seven siblings. His father was a journeyman bricklayer. Charles became a gardener when he left school and then enlisted in the Corps of Royal Engineers in 1915.