Frodsham Town Council’s WW1 Group, with the help of children from all Frodsham Primary Schools, produced a Poppy Cascade to commemorate the Frodsham soldiers who lost their lives at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 during WW1, and this has been displayed in the Medical Centre. I was asked to cut the ribbon to open the Cascade, as my Uncle Billie (William Jeffs) was killed in action, aged 21, during the battle of Mont St Eloi in May 1916.
Following the opening ceremony, Ken Crouch, from the WW1 Group, read out the following story, written by Mr Percy Dunbavand of Runcorn. “Around 1948, Mr Wilf Cotgrave, who lived at 2 Fountain Lane, Frodsham, was employed as a Bin-man (refuse collector) in the town, and one day, while depositing a bin full of rubbish in the bin wagon, he noticed an object as it fell out. He picked it up and found it to be a Bronze Death Plaque that had been awarded to the next of kin of a young Frodsham soldier who had lost his life during the Great War. It was known as the “Dead Man's Penny” due to the similarity to the smaller penny coin. Wilf took it home,
where it was kept on the mantelpiece. His son, John, remembers seeing it there when he was 6 years of age 68
Percy continued, "In 1964 John Cotgreave married my wife’s niece and came to live in Runcorn. He inherited the Plaque and always maintained that if ever he found a relative of the man who was commemorated on it, he would return it to them. However, John had never discovered any relatives until, in July this year, when I attended the Frodsham Fete in Castle Park and visited the stall that commemorated the Frodsham lads from the Great War. I talked to Sara Wakefield and after telling her of the Plaque she mentioned that there were relatives of the man still living in the town and if John was still willing to return the Plaque she would arrange for the transfer to go ahead. "
I rang John Cotgrave and he agreed, but unfortunately he could not attend the Ceremony, and asked if I would do the honour, which I gladly did. To my surprise, I was then presented with the Plaque, which was inscribed,
'William Jeffs' (my Uncle Billy). It was extremely emotional and my family can only think that when his
Mother, my Granny, died and the house was cleared, it was mistakenly thrown away. Thankfully it was found and we will now treasure it greatly.
Written by the Minister & Members