On 5 August 1914 notices were posted on all public buildings noticeboards ordering the mobilisation of all territorial units. The Middlewich detachment assembled on Victoria Square at 7.30 a.m. the next day and with L Hadden at their head, marched to the drill hall at Winsford to collect their kit.
By Christmas 1916 there were 350 men serving in the armed forces. Each mid-Cheshire town had its own column in the local newspaper and by 1917 complete pages were taken up with publishing lists of men killed, wounded or missing. There were by then 450 men from Middlewich serving in the forces.
In November 1918, St Michael’s Parish Church and M.U.D.C. decided to erect memorials to the 144 Middlewich men who died in the war. The decision was taken by the Parish Council and the Memorial Scheme involved restoration of the Lady Chapel, including strengthening of the floor and placing a memorial tablet therein. It also included moving the organ and rebuilding a temporary vestry.
The builders and architects chosen were Oakley and Suaville and the quotation received at the meeting stated that the approximate cost would be £2,000 or maybe more. The estimate of £2,000 consisted of alterations to the Lady Chapel floor and a memorial tablet made of wood with gilt inscription, moving and rebuilding the organ and building a new choir vestry. This was later revised to exclude the choir vestry and the total cost reduced. The actual cost of the tablet was £235.
At a meeting of the Church Council, it was proposed that the vicar, Rev. Child, the Warden, Mrs Roylance Court and Mrs Kay, be asked to draw up the inscription which would go at the top of the tablet above the names. It was decided that the names of the fallen should be listed in alphabetical order with Christian names first and rank to be shown, by 15 May 1923.
752 Sergeant Arthur Sheppard DCM
Arthur lived in Southwell, Nottingham, before joining 8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. Whilst serving with the Sherwood Foresters, Arthur was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. He was awarded this medal for leading his men on a bombing party under heavy bomb and rifle fire from the enemy. Having used all their grenades, Arthur went back and got fresh supplies and, having lost five men, he brought reinforcements. Arthur was, sadly, killed on 19 November 1915 aged 26, whilst in battle in Richebourg. Arthur’s grave can now be found in Southwell.
Arthur’s temporary grave marker was repatriated at the end of the war and “returned to his family”. Local knowledge has it that his family had all passed away but he had an uncle who lived in Wheelock Street and he received the cross as the last living relative. Some time after the war had ended he arranged for the cross to be sited in St Michael’s alongside the newly erected war memorial. It has stood in the Lady Chapel since 1923.