COOKHAM residents came together at the village’s War Memorial on Monday afternoon to hear stories about the local men who lost their lives in WW1.

The event was organised by the Stanley Spencer Gallery, where Spencer’s painting ‘Unveiling of Cookham War Memorial’ is currently on show.

Spencer, acknowledged as one of the greatest British painters of the 20th century, was one of five brothers who all fought in the war and his brother Sydney, who died in the last weeks of the war, is commemorated there.

Extracts from Sydney’s letters home from the front – which totalled around 40 in five months' service - were read by Jim Rosenthal, who swapped his role as TV sports presenter for one of military historian for the day.

Sydney wrote home to his sister Florence - whose birthday was on August 4th – about the event which led to him being awarded the Military Cross, which remarkably began on August 4, 1918.

Ann Danks, archivist at the Stanley Spencer Gallery, said: "Finding out more about Sydney Spencer has been really fascinating. He is the only soldier named on the Cookham Village War Memorial to have been awarded the Military Cross.

"His letters whilst on active service in France are held at the Berkshire Record Office and give a very personal insight into his character and the nature of the First World War on an everyday level."