Leeds community’s moving war memorial tribute to the lads who never came home

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One was buried at El Alamein in Egypt, the other at Salerno in Italy – but their memory lives on in Leeds.

John and George Prentis were brothers from the city who died on foreign fields while serving their country during the Second World War.

John was 22 when he was killed on September 11, 1942, while his brother died aged 20 just over a year later.

Now the bravery shown by the Prentis brothers and others like them has been commemorated by a new war memorial in Garforth.

Scores of men from Garforth who lost their lives in the First World War, Second World War or Korean War have their names recorded on the lovingly-crafted memorial.

Officially unveiled today, it stands in Garforth Cemetery and complements an existing roll of honour at St Mary’s Church in the town.

Some of the Prentis family, including John and George’s sisters, Joyce and Helen, still live in the Garforth area.

And today the family told of their pride at the new tribute to the brothers and their valiant comrades in arms.

John and George’s nephew, Ian Prentis, 58, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s especially pleasing for us as the plaque in St Mary’s has an incorrect spelling of the family surname.

“It’s particularly special for my aunties Joyce and Helen.”

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Jane Dowson, laid a wreath on behalf of the people of the city at today’s unveiling ceremony.

A bugler played The Last Post and Reveille while a minute’s silence was also held.

Members of the Royal British Legion were in attendance along with local residents and dignitaries.

Coun Dowson said: “I was honoured to unveil a new war memorial to remember those from Garforth who lost their lives in conflict serving their country.

“This is the first outdoor war memorial in Garforth and it will offer somewhere for the local community to come together at times of remembrance to reflect and pay tribute.

“This was an extremely proud and moving occasion especially for those involved who have worked so hard to bring the memorial project to fruition.”

Supporters of the push to get the funds together for the memorial included Garforth business couple David and Jackie Hobman, who donated £1,000 towards its cost.

Local resident Tony Robinson also played an important part in the research work on the project.

Mr Robinson said today: “I think this will be a focal point for people to come together and remember.”

An engraved inscription on the base of the stone memorial reads: “For the local people of Garforth who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We must not forget them.”

Coun Sarah Field, from the Garforth and Swillington Independents, has been closely involved with the efforts to get the town its new memorial.

She said: “To see this project become a reality after three years’ work is really fantastic and we hope that the memorial is a fitting tribute to the men of Garforth who lost their lives preserving our freedom.”

Coun Field added: “[Coun Mark Dobson] and I are extremely grateful to those members of the community and businesses who’ve worked with us and given their time, expertise and money to make this memorial a reality.”

Sandmoor Drive. Pic: Google.

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