Church searches for the relatives of four Second World War servicemen after their memorial is saved

A church is searching for the relatives of four Second World War servicemen who grew up on the same estate after saving their memorial from another church threatened with demolition.

The memorial plaque commemorated Gerald Rodgers, Percy Brown, Lawrence Frost and Derrick Wood, who lived on the St Helier estate in Morden, and died in the Second World War.

The war memorial, made from wood and brass and salvaged from a battlefield, was originally displayed in Farm Road Church, but was nearly destroyed when the church closed in 2014.

Warden Trevor Taylor outside St George’s Church (Picture: St George’s Church)

The building in Morden was threatened with demolition and the management committee feared that the memory of the men would be lost. 

They approached St George’s Church, which agreed to help save the memorial and install the plaque in its building in time for this year’s Remembrance Sunday.

The church wanted to find out about the men and invite their relatives to the reopening of the memorial, and turned to social media for help.  

With three photographs and some basic biographical information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the appeal for information resulted in an early success – and a surprise.

Farm Road Church in Morden closed in 2014 (Picture: St George’s Church)

The surprise came from a contact who showed from several archives that the surname of one serviceman had been misspelled on the memorial. 

Gerald’s surname had been engraved as ‘Rogers’ on the plaque, but was actually spelled ‘Rodgers’ – spelling errors are not uncommon on war memorials. 

Lawrence Frost’s 95-year-old sister was found (Picture: St George’s Church)

Private Rodgers was 19 years old when he died.

Contact was then established with a relative of Lawrence Frost.  

The relative said that Lawrence’s sister, Rosetta, aged 95, is still alive. “Laurie” was killed two weeks after receiving news that his daughter had been born on Christmas Day in 1944. 

The Wellington bomber that he was co-piloting was shot down by a U-boat, killing all of the crew except the pilot.

Trevor Taylor, warden of St George’s Church, said: “I was particularly pleased that we were able to help save the memorial, as we had always enjoyed a close relationship with the congregation at Farm Road Church. 

“Fortunately, our appeal for information met with an early success in that contact with Lawrence Frost’s family. I would appeal again for any information regarding the other men or their relatives.”

The church is still hoping members of the public can provide further detail on the men on the plaque.

The memorial will be unveiled at the St George’s Church Remembrance Sunday service in Morden on November 13 at 10.30am. 

Pictured top: Left to right, Gerald Rodgers, Lawrence Frost and Percy Brown (Picture: St George’s Church)

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