A Richmond man who has spent years piecing together the careers of 45 servicemen who perished during the Second World War is calling on readers to help him unearth more information.

Fred Abbott, 62, of St Mary's Grove, was on holiday in Tunisia four years ago when his thoughts turned to a memorial plaque which had hung in his old school, Gainsborough Road Grammar School.

He explained: "I have always been interested in the 1939-45 war and there are eight war graves in Tunisia.

"I was walking round one of them with my wife, Gill, and that got me wondering what happened to the plaque after the school was demolished and replaced with flats in 1977."

The names engraved in gold leaf immortalise old boys of Richmond Central School which was the original name of Gainsborough Road before the war.

"The plaque had been made in our metal workshop and erected in the assembly hall in 1948. I was at Gainsborough from around 1956 to 1960 and I remember we paraded every Remembrance Day and listened to the names of the boys being read out.

"A lad in my class named Frank Chapple told me that his uncle was on it. I didn't take any notice of course, but four years ago, standing in the graveyard in Tunisia, I felt that with the school went the memorial of those boys, so I wanted to restore it for the next generation."

Fred, who is a caretaker for Richmond Housing Partnership, along with his sister Jean, 68, who also attended Gainsborough, tracked the plaque down to Shene School, where their history teacher Norman Radley, who had taught at the school for 22 years until it closed, had taken it when he went on to teach there.

The pair then visited Richmond Local Studies in Whittaker Avenue to go through old school records to find out more about those named on the plaque.

They also consulted the armed forces, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, newspaper records - including the memorial pages of the Richmond and Twickenham Times - and the National Archives Centre at Kew.

Fred describes his mission for information as "exhilarating". He said: "Even writing off to people is exciting. You go down a lot of blind alleys then you hit a right one and you get so much out of it."

The result of his research is acres of impressively detailed records neatly filed into separate folders for each man from which Fred can quote at the drop of a hat. However progress is now grinding to a crawl so he is asking for readers' help.

If anyone has any information about any of those named on the plaque please contact us here at the Times by emailing rtt@london.newsquest.co.uk or calling 0208 744 4261.