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Two Ronnies on European war memorial mission

Ronald Cheape (left) and Ronald Laing are touring war graves in Europe to record where dead soldiers from Larbert are buried. Picture: Michael Gillen (140709I)

Ronald Cheape (left) and Ronald Laing are touring war graves in Europe to record where dead soldiers from Larbert are buried. Picture: Michael Gillen (140709I)

 

Two men are to march in the footsteps of fallen soldiers from World War I to record the stories of their lives for generations to come.

Lifelong friends Ronald Cheape and Ronald Laing – aka the ‘Two Ronnies’ – are visiting war cemeteries in Belgium and France this week to photograph the graves of all 123 soldiers listed on Larbert Old Parish Church’s war memorial.

Mr Cheape, a retired managing director with Ogilvie Construction, has spent six months, along with the help of Mr Laing – a retired confectioner – doing painstaking research to catalogue each life lost from the Larbert area ahead of this year’s 100th year anniversary of the start of the Great War.

While the war memorial lists the names, the dedicated duo want to add the colourful details of their lives such as what streets they lived in, where they worked, family history and anything that can paint a picture of the brave men behind the uniform.

Mr Cheape, a member of the church congregation, said: “There’s been 448 soldiers killed from Britain in Afghanistan so far. There were 123 just from Larbert killed in World War One so it shows what a devastating effect the war had on one of our communities.

“I started this because I had two uncles killed in the war but then I wanted to take it further find out more about all the soldiers from our area to give people an idea of who they really were. We’ve got a lot of the details from the old copies of The Falkirk Herald in the library.

“We’ve had great help from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission too. There are 959 war cemeteries in Europe but we are only visiting about 30-40 of them including the ones for the battles of the Somme and Loos.

“We’ll take pictures of the graves to include in all the information we’re collecting. I’m going to divide the details into four volumes that will be placed in Larbert Parish Church for anyone to read.”

 

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