Harry’s name is a symbol of why we must not forget

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Jean Louth was in her mid-50s when she discovered there was not a Second World War memorial in Portsmouth listing the names of all those who died between 1939 and 1945.

If there had been, it would have included that of her father Harry Short. He died at Dunkirk during the mass evacuation of the British expeditionary force in May 1940.

That was in 1989 and Jean launched a campaign to right what she and The News believed was an injustice.

Now 80, Jean has finally seen her dream realised, albeit 25 years on.

As we report on page 7 today, Bombardier Short’s name has now been engraved into immortality on the striking war memorial in the corner of Guildhall Square.

We take our collective hats off to Jean for she has been unswerving in her dedication and sheer bloody-mindedness to have her father’s name and that of many, many others remembered for posterity.

Some may wonder why it is important.

It is not only because a name on a memorial gives a family a focal point at which to remember, but also, for the generations of that family to come, a reference point for their family’s history.

Harry has no grave. There is no pristine white headstone bearing his name in a French field tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. His body was never found. For those family members to come, Harry would simply have vanished.

How many of you tracing your family history have studied war memorials containing, perhaps, just two or three names in a small village? Suddenly, the setting, that village, puts flesh on the body of an ancestor giving some meaning to a life cut short by war or conflict.

That’s why Jean Louth’s lengthy campaign was so worthwhile. And it’s not just for the servicemen and women of the Second World War. Still to come is the long list of the city’s civilians who died at the hands of Hitler’s Luftwaffe, not in a foreign land, but in their home city, often in their own homes.

We just hope that important addition comes soon, not in another 25 years.