Memorial rediscovered after 80 years

Blog by volunteer fieldworker Gordon Amand

memorial from the Great War has been found while clearing out a cellar in Ross-on Wye. It commemorates the life of Wilfrid John Massey Lynch, Lieutenant in the 3rd Dragoon Guards who was killed in action on 4th April 1918 at the battle of the Avre, the Somme, France. He was 25 years old.

Rediscovered Plaque to Wilfrid Massey Lynch (©Gordon Amand)

The existence of this memorial has been known for many years, as it was originally in an old church in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire and probably erected there in the 1920s. It disappeared sometime after the new church of St. Frances of Rome was built in 1931.

There are several other memorials to Wilfrid. One is coupled with his brother-in-law, Lieutenant F. T. Harris in All Saints Church in the Trees at Bishopswood, which is a few miles from Ross-on-Wye. Another exists in St Joseph’s Church, Blundellsands, Liverpool. He is also remembered on the Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France. The recently discovered memorial is a brass plaque measuring 24 inches x 12 inches (610 x 305 mm) and has been recorded by UKNIWM. I hope to get the plaque refurbished and installed in St Frances of Rome Church, and also have it rededicated and blessed at a ceremony this year.  

Wilfrid was born on 28 September 1893 in Seaforth, Liverpool. He went to Stonyhurst School near Clitheroe in Lancashire. His father expected him to work in banking which he did for two years with the Bank of Liverpool. Commercial life however did not suit him, and he decided to move south and took up a job as a trainee farmer at Great Howle, near Ross-on-Wye where he met the farmer’s daughter Gwendoline Harris. They got married in July 1914, and soon after they sailed for south east Australia where Wilfrid set up a fruit farm. Their only child, Lisle was born here. In 1916 he decided to return to Liverpool and enlisted in the army. He got a commission with the 3rd Dragoon Guards, as a Lieutenant to serve King and Country.  He was wounded with shell shock in 10th January 1918, and later rejoined his regiment on the 29th January 1918. He was killed on 4th April 1918. 

I knew his daughter Lisle, and her two cousins, who gave me a lot of information about Wilfrid.  Other information has been obtained from The Stonyhurst Association and the National Archives. Lisle never married and her two married cousins did not have any male children, so the family name of Massey-Lynch will be lost after this generation.

  1. B. Smith said:

    Wilfred had at least three brothers so hopefully the name will not be lost. There is a memorial to his uncle Patrick Sarsfield Lynch in Our Lady Star of the Sea R C Church in Seaforth, Nr Liverpool. He was buried at sea in 1883.

    • James Turner said:

      Many thanks for adding this information. Wilfred is my first cousin twice removed. I have recently been researching the family tree and am so pleased I came across this article.

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