A group of men dedicated to unearthing the stories behind hundreds of war graves have joined forced to launch an appeal to trace descendants of “ordinary men who did extraordinary things”.

As the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War approaches, the group are keen to shine a spotlight on men from Waltham Forest who answered the call of duty.

Malcolm Doolin of the east London branch of the Western Front Association has teamed up with Cllr Roy Berg, researcher Chris Hunt, historian Mark Carroll and Waltham Forest Cemeteries Manager Tusar SenGupta to kick start the campaign.

They are appealing for anyone who may be related to one of the 782 men who fought in WWI and who are buried in the borough to come forward.

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Mr Doolin said the information gained would provide “a legacy for the young people” in Waltham Forest.

“It is not about being heroes, some of them did get medals, but for the most part these were ordinary men who did extraordinary things,” he said.

“They did what they were asked to do. They were going into a strange place with completely alien conditions.

“It’s not just about white British. There were black British, Indian, the Chinese Labour Corps and soldiers from South Africa, Fiji and Egypt as well.

“There are a lot of people buried in cemeteries across Waltham Forest and it would be great to share their stories and find their families.”

Mark Carroll, secretary of Waltham Forest Family History Society, recently traced the grandson and great-grandson of Private Arthur Grimley by going through records and drawing up a family tree.

Private Grimley, a casualty of the 1917 Battle of Passchendaele, is buried in Queen’s Road Cemetery in Walthamstow.

Mr Carroll said: “John had been going into the graveyard to visit his mother’s grave for years and didn’t realise he was passing his grandfather’s.

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“Part of the pleasure is following the story and passing information on to the family. They are just very grateful that they can remember someone from their family’s history.”

Conservative councillor for Endlebury ward Roy Berg who is an ex-serviceman first became interested in war graves after being elected in 2010.

Mr Berg is passionate about educating the younger generation about the lives of the men who fought for their country and works closely with a number of local schools to “enhance the children’s knowledge of what went on”.

Last year he arranged for schoolchildren to place a cross and a poppy on each grave after being upset by the sight of neglected gravestones.

He said: “I love bringing the kids down here. Last November there were 186 children and we brought them around in groups of 15 telling them the stories behind the graves.

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“We are trying to put a little bit more meat on the gravestones, like saying, this person had a wife and two children and he went to war and didn’t come back.

“A 16-year-old girl started crying when she realised the man who died was the same age as her brother.”

Cemeteries Manager at Waltham Forest Council Tusar SenGupta is in the process of designing a 10-point trail and a map to take walkers on a tour of the graves.

“We are in a world that is full of war and yet there are children who do not know what war is about,” he said.

“Bringing them to the events and telling them the stories opens their eyes to the history in the borough. You can see this seven-year-old who is just in awe."

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Chris Hunt who is looking after the research side of things said the aim of the appeal is to ensure all Waltham Forest’s soldiers who fought in WWI are remembered, not just those who died in battle.

He said: “They were citizen armies and it is worth bearing in mind that for every 10 men that went, nine came home.

“Some died but a lot of people came back and carried on with their lives.”

The team have been working closely with volunteer researchers to find out more about the 322 WWWI soldiers who are buried in Chingford Mount Cemetery and are keen to learn more about the war graves in St Patrick’s Cemetery in Leytonstone.

Anyone with information should email Malcolm Doolin at malcolm@astraeducation.com.