This summer I have embarked on a project to research the men whose names are remembered on the war memorial in North Nibley. I was drawn to this memorial in particular as it is where my great great grandfather, Percy Parsons, is commemorated and as the village lies between the towns of Wotton-Under-Edge and Dursley where extensive research projects have already been done. For North Nibley by contrast, there is surprisingly little.

On the memorial itself there are the names of twenty men who died in the Great War; a considerable number for a small, predominantly farming village. Nineteen of these names are accompanied by a regiment, so it was with this small amount of information that I initially set about identifying them through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database and the local census records. As expected, some were much easier to identify than others. M Leonard (Gloucs), for instance, was identified quickly as Maurice of Tabernacle Road, as he was the only one listed on CWGC.

However, for a time some were seeming near enough impossible to place. T Harris (RN) was a common name and was tricky to place, but none were harder than G and P Capener. Assumed brothers, they appear together on the 1901 census in North Nibley as Gilbert and Percy, but had disappeared ten years later. Found again in Dursley, sadly living at the workhouse but were lost again in the military records. With the surname not throwing any potential matches on either the medal index card register or on CWGC I was starting to wonder whether they had served at all and how they came to end up on the memorial.

For help I had to turn to the super sleuths on the Great War Forum. Who were these men and where were their records? To add to the conundrum, P Capener was the only one on the memorial not to have a regiment beside his name. As ever, the forum came up trumps. Gilbert James Capener was remembered in the Cheltenham Chronicle, having drowned on a Royal Navy ship. The first name matched the census, the newspaper the location and the article his regiment. Bingo! But what of his middle name 'James'? Looking back at the 1901 census, James was the surname of the family housekeeper, Jane, who was living with the widowed family since Percy had been a baby. From here, things began to line up.

A search back through the military records, and eventually, following even more headscratching after Percy turned up Staffordshire, of all places, with his sister Fanny, I managed to identify a first name, regimental number and pre-war location to all twenty North Nibley men.

This certainly was a big step forward, but names and numbers on their own make for dull reading. To be able to remember who these men were and the sacrifices they made I needed to know more. Very few of the men had surviving military records; below the national average of 40% of surviving records and so to understand their wars I had to step away from the Internet and piece together information from other sources. It was to the local archives that I headed next.

A full list of the names on the memorial can be found here.