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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.

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By Project Assistant, Annette Gaykema.

We have had two emails recently from an employee at the Tower of London, informing us that two memorials we had listed as missing were in fact located in the Tower of London. The 38th Jewish Battalion, Royal Fusiliers memorial was believed to have been lost when the Great Synagogue, where it was originally housed, was destroyed with a direct hit in the Second World War.  

Similarly, the Royal Fusiliers Roll of Honour was believed to have been destroyed when the Guild Hall was bombed in the Second World War.

Both of these memorials have now been found at the Tower of London, but what remains a mystery is whether they were salvaged from bomb wreckage and eventually given to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum which opened at the Tower of London in 1962, or whether they were moved to the Tower for safe keeping prior to the London Blitz.

Broomfield Garden of Remembrance before the theft

Broomfield Garden of Remembrance before the theft

16 bronze plaques with the names of over 1,000 casualties from the First and Second World War, including 139 civilians were stolen from the memorial temple in Broomfield Park Garden of Remembrance, Palmers Green last weekend. The plaques, commemorating the wartime losses to the Enfield community, were most probably taken solely for the scrap value of the bronze. This is the second theft to have taken place at the Broomfield Garden of Remembrance: the memorial gates stolen in 2000 were subsequently replaced by Enfield Borough Council. Frances Moreton, Trust Manager of the War Memorials Trust described this latest incident as one in an increasing trend of war memorial thefts nationally, the causes of which the Trust are investigating.  

One of the stolen plaques with the names of civilians

One of the stolen plaques with the names of civilians

 

Given the high community and material value of these plaques, investing in security measures to protect war memorials, such as cctv, would certainly appear to be well worthwhile. Thieves may be dissuaded or, in any case, cctv can assist with tracing stolen features from war memorials and proceeding with prosecutions for this particular crime. 

 

Enfield Police have launched an appeal for anyone with information relating to the theft of the Broomfield plaques or information about their current whereabouts to contact them on 020 8345 3349.

Sir William Reynolds-Stephens (1862-1943), knighted in 1931, President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors 1921-33, and an exhibitor at the Royal Academy for over fifty years, is perhaps rather forgotten today. Our interest was sparked by a Life by his great-niece, Caroline Sherlock, for he was responsible for a number of war memorials both at home and abroad (‘The Scout in War’, an equestrian statue at East London in South Africa, 1908).

Since the book was published, we have identified the previously unknown locations of some of the memorials but the whereabouts of a couple still elude us, both being busts of officers who fell in the First World War:

  • A bronze dating from 1916 of 2nd Lieutenant Vere Herbert Smith, The Rifle Brigade, who died 21 March 1915.
  • A bust dating from 1917 of 2nd Lieutenant Walter Richard Mortimer Woolf, The Border Regiment, who died 26 September 1915. His family were neighbours of the sculptor in Kilburn in north west London.

Please let us know if you have come across either of these memorials.

A new grants scheme is being launched today by Historic Scotland and War Memorials Trust.  Funding will be available to ensure that freestanding memorials across Scotland are preserved in recognition of the contribution service men and women have made for their country.

Historic Scotland will provide £30,000 annually to War Memorials Trust who will provide additional funds and be responsible for distributing the grants.  War memorials eligible for conservation grants are freestanding monuments such as obelisks, crosses and statues. 

The scheme can grant aid up to 75% of the total eligible cost of the works to a maximum of £7,500 per project.  See the press release for further information about the launch of the scheme.

Anyone interested in applying for a grant in Scotland (or elsewhere in the UK) is advised to visit the WMT Small Grants Scheme information page to learn more about the available funding or to contact the Conservation Officer on 020 7881 0862 or conservation@warmemorials.org or the Trust Manager or Administrator on 020 7259 0403 or info@warmemorials.org.

Sometimes we have very little, or out of date information with which to record a war memorial.  Recently we recorded a memorial from a copy of a souvenir booklet produced in 1922. 

The memorial commemorated 26 men of the Essex villages of Downham, Ramsden and Ramsden Bellhouse and was to consist of 27 oak trees, planted by next of kin, each to commemorate one person who had died in the First World War. 

A tablet was attached to each tree, inscribed with the name, regiment, and place of death of the soldier.  The tablets were fixed with a length of telephone cable cut from a reel used in the war and brought back from France.  The first tree planted had a memorial tablet opposite with the names of all the villagers who had lost their lives. 

19 trees were planted on the 21 October 1922 and it was planned to plant the remaining 8 trees when their next of kin were available, although we do not know if these were ever planted.

Mr William Leslie, the man responsible for the planting of the trees had the following aspirations for them;

“The relatives, having their own tree consecrated to their own dead hero would take a great interest in its growth, and would point it out to their children as an inspiration to do nothing mean or unworthy of their ancestor whose memory it enshrines.”

There was a great deal of interest in the national press at the time, as the oaks was regarded as an unusual and admirable war memorial.  Although, an article in The Times recognised the difficulties;

“A tree, however, or a row of trees, is not easy to plant successfully; it is not enough to suppose that when once trees begin to take root they will grow without further care; and the villagers therefore, like others who plant trees, must see to it that their young oaks are tided over the perils of infancy.”  The Times, 26 October 1922.

Click to see full memorial record

Do you know what happened to these oak trees?  Were the other eight trees ever planted?  Did they survive the last 80 years?  Do local people still know that they were planted as memorials to those killed in the First World War? Do any of their relatives still live in the village?

Please tell us if you know anything about these trees!

One enquiry we receive from time to time is the request for help identifying where a memorial originally came from.  This is not always as easy as it sounds.  Last year we reported about a memorial found dumped on a beach in Christchurch, Dorset.  The rather cryptic inscription, “To the men of this Parish…” does not not exactly aid identification of which Parish!

Recently we received a letter from a curator at Grantham Museum in Lincolnshire.  She was trying to research a memorial with the following inscription.

“1914-1918 Memory of Brothers who fell in the Great War Loyal Mystery of Providence Lodge M U” 

The curator’s first thought was that this was a memorial to a Freemasons group, but she had been in touch with the local branch and they had no record of a ‘Providence Lodge’.  One of our volunteers then suggested that it was a memorial to the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows.  The Oddfellows is an organisation that began in the late 17th Century, founded out of Medieval London trade guilds.  The Manchester section was formed in 1810 as a social group and Friendly Society.

Today we received the good news that the memorial did indeed commemorate members of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows and that the memorial is now going to be cleaned and put on display at their headquarters building in Manchester.