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This is a blog by Project Manager Frances Casey

A beautiful hand-illustrated First World War Roll of Honour from the Lake District village of Levens has been discovered in an attic in the village. The Menin Gate, Menin Road and Arras Road are all illustrated above the inscription to men of the village, and a detailed scene from Railway Wood, Ypres, 1917 can be seen below the names.

Levens Roll of Honour (ukniwm 61491, ©Stephen Read)

When the Roll came to light, the Levens Local History Group set about trying to find out more about it and the men commemorated, but so far the mystery has deepened. Most of the men named were in the Border Regiment and according to the Group’s research it appears that this regiment did not play a prominent part in Ypres in 1917, and the men are not commemorated on the Menin Gate which is a memorial to the missing of Ypres, so why choose these illustrations for the Roll?

The illustration of the Menin Gate does help date the Roll of Honour though, as the Gate was unveiled in 1927, so the Roll must have been created around or after this time. It is signed Jackson Art Studio on the right hand lower corner but, as yet, the Levens researchers have not found any information about this company. If you have any ideas or come across anything in your research to help solve these mysteries let us know and we will pass on your thoughts to the Levens Local History Group, who are continuing with the search and would welcome any leads.

 

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Article by Richard Graham

Harry Patch at the Menin Gate, 2007 (Photo Courtesy of SalientPoints)

Harry Patch at the Menin Gate, 2007 (Photo Courtesy of SalientPoints)

The writer J B Priestley (1894-1984) volunteered for the army in September 1914, joining The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment (West Riding). During his service he was both wounded and gassed and he was finally discharged in March 1919 as a subaltern in The Devonshire Regiment. Of the war he wrote ‘…I believe that in the end it was chiefly won on the ground by a huge crowd of young Britons who never wanted to be soldiers, hooted at all traditions of military glory, but went on and on, when the American forces were still not fully deployed and the French were fading out, with courage and endurance and tenacity we should remember with pride.’ Margin Released (1964)

Such a man was Harry Patch, the last British soldier to have seen action in the trenches of the First World war who died at the weekend. His portrait is currently found on the London Underground advertising the BP Award, and his regiment, the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, is commemorated on a war memorial at Bodmin. Following Harry’s death Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced plans for a memorial service, to take place later this year, to commemorate the generation that fought and died in the Great War.

article by UKNIWM office volunteer Gabrielle Orton

Last weekend, I visited Ypres in Flanders, to see various museums, cemeteries, battlefields and memorials.  One of the most striking features was the Menin Gate, at the Eastern exit of the town, built on the road along which hundreds of thousands of troops passed on their way to the front during 1914-1918.  The triumphal arch designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and opened on 24 July 1927, is one of five memorials to the missing soldiers who died in WWI and whose bodies were never recovered.  There are 54,896 names incised in the memorial’s ‘Hall of Memory’, including British, Canadian, Australian, Indian and South African troops who died before 16 August 1917.  A further 34,984 missing servicemen killed after that date are recorded on the Tyne Cot memorial.

I wanted to make my visit to the Menin Gate and my remembrance of the missing WWI casualties more personal.  So from the vast list of names, I chose to look for information on one soldier, Captain Frank Charlton Jonas of the 1st Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment.  For this I used the CWGC website, UKNIWM search and the Channel 4 website’s name search.

The Menin Gate

Captain F C Jonas is commemorated twice in Duxford, the village where he lived with his wife in the old rectory and where his parents, George and Jane Jonas, owned a farm.  The Duxford village memorial celtic cross was unveiled in 1920 (before the Menin Gate was completed), and can be found on the village green.  The names on this memorial are ordered by rank and as Captain Jonas was the highest ranking casualty from the village, he is listed at the top.  There is also a plaque within Duxford Church, dedicated solely to Captain Jonas, which informs us that he was killed aged 36, on 31st July 1917, near St Julien.  St Julien, just North East of Ypres, was recaptured on 31st July 1917, by the 13th Royal Sussex Regiment, during the third battle of Ypres as part of the Flanders offensive.  During the offensive, heavy rains and shelling destroyed the drainage system in the Ypres Salient, creating a swamp-like terrain.  This meant that over 125,000 casualties, including Captain Jonas, were never found.

Captain Jonas has also been commemorated on several memorials in Ely Cathedral, including on one of the 16 beautifully painted oak panels in the Chapel of St George.  Here his name can be found under his home village.  Within the chapel is a window dedicated to all ranks of the Cambridgeshire Regiment.  The corresponding roll of honour, placed on a bracket just inside the chapel, contains 864 names, one of which should be Captain Jonas.

It was interesting to discover so much detailed information about Captain Jonas from the selection of war memorials commemorating him here in the UK.  Perhaps it is underestimated how much war memorials contribute to keeping memories of the casualties of war alive.