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This is an article by Derbyshire Fieldworker Roy Branson

Mention Derbyshire stately homes and most people will instantly think of Chatsworth, but there are many other historic buildings in the county.  One such is Kedleston Hall just outside Derby, home of the Curzon family and now in the care of the National Trust.  When the current house was built Lord Curzon did as many other landowners of the time – he removed the rest of the village to cottages out of his sight.  But one building that he did not move was the parish church which still stands next to the grand house.  Although the church was used by the Curzons, almost as a private family chapel, the church at the adjacent village of Mugginton became the venue for the rest of the village.  Today there is no longer a viable congregation at Kedleston and the church, All Saints’, is now in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust.  

Tablet to Capt the Hon William Curzon (©Roy Branson)

My principal voluntary work for UKNIWM is the survey of war memorials throughout Derbyshire and I recently visited Kedleston Hall and All Saints’ Church with Frances Casey, UKNIWM Project Manager, where we recorded several memorials new to the Inventory.  One of the memorials in the church is to 23 year old William Curzon who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.  It comprises a white marble tablet with a black border painted onto the surrounding wall and an incised inscription which the guidebook describes as a ‘touching epitaph’.  Here, the inscription is reproduced verbatim: 

Sacred to the memory of WILLIAM CURZON,

4th. Son of Lord Scarsdale, late Capt. in the 69th. Ft. & D.A.A.G.

A Youth of fairest promise!

Whose professional merit, amiable qualities, & private worth,

Had distinguish’d Him as a Soldier, endear’d Him to his Family, Friends, & Comrades.

He enter’d the Army at the age of 16,

Appointed to an Ensigney in the 9th. from the R. M. College,

And having honorably served throughout the War in the Peninsular,

And already bled in the cause of Nations,

Fell alas! fighting with devoted gallantry,

On that day of triumph & tears, which seal’d their Deliverance;

Being slain in the Battle of Waterloo June 18th. 1815, in his 24th. year.

His Country will record His Name in the list of the Brave.

To preserve It on the Spot where its Remembrance will be most precious,

This tablet is raised by his affectionate Parents,

Who deploring His loss, with their surviving Children,

Bow to the Divine Will & repose in the blessed belief,

That He has exchang’d His Laurels, for a Crown of Glory,

The Meed of His Virtues.

The seventh line from the bottom is of particular interest: “His Country will record His Name in the list of the Brave”. By recording his memorial in the Inventory I think I have fulfilled his parents’ wishes after 196 years. This is why I record war memorials.

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.

Further to my blog of 15 July, Tynwald, the Isle of Man’s parliament, has approved the establishment of the Isle of Man Government Preservation of War Memorials Committee to encourage the appropriate preservation and the safekeeping of all HM Forces, Merchant Navy and other War Memorials, and War Graves, within the individual areas across the Island and to keep a public register.   

 

This is great news. Whilst many of the memorials located on the Isle of Man are in good condition, this new committee will provide protection for the few which are in out of the way places or not as well known as well as ensure the long term preservation of all the war memorials on the Isle of Man.
 

The committee, consisting of up to seven members from the parliament and the public, will be responsible for: 

  • ensuring a proper registration of War Memorials throughout the Isle of Man; 
  • encouraging the proper maintenance and upkeep of such Memorials; and
  • avoiding the destruction of, or overseeing the removal of, such Memorials by encouraging the owners or custodians to advise the Committee that such is likely prior to such actions being taken so as to enable the Committee to ascertain any actions that may be appropriate for them to safeguard the Memorial. 

I wonder if any more government bodies or local councils will follow suit?

What, you may ask, do children’s building bricks have to do with war memorials? Well, read on….

Richter’s Anchor Blocks were invented in Germany in 1882 and were popular throughout the Europe, the UK and America for many years. But the advent of WW1 and the resulting restriction on German imports provided an opportunity for a British manufacturer to break into the market. Ernest Lott leased premises in Bushey, Hertfordshire to make a British version known as Lott’s Bricks.

A series of boxes designed for specific projects were produced e.g. Tudor Blocks to enable kids (and maybe Dads!) to reproduce the fashionable mock-Tudor house that was springing up all over suburbia. But of particular interest to us is Box 3. Amongst the ideas of what to build there is a plan for a War Memorial.

The nature of the bricks meant that it was of a modernist design, albeit topped with a cross, and its monumentality is perhaps reminiscent of the larger Commonwealth War Graves Commission crosses rather than a community one. However, one piece of publicity shows a smaller design, more proportional to the surrounding houses. To find out more, there is still time to see an interesting exhibition at Bushey Museum and Art Gallery, Hertfordshire in which the memorial features. It closes on November 2nd 2008 so you had better be quick!

I wonder how many other war memorial toys have been produced?

In this Olympic year I have been asked if there are war memorials to Olympic performers. This is rather difficult to answer as their careers at the top level, Sir Steve Redgrave apart, tend to be quite short by comparison say with cricketers, and they disappear from the layman’s consciousness. We do know that many sportsmen of all levels of ability were recruited into the British forces in the First World War, one notable one being Siegfried Sassoon. We have many records of memorials in golf and other sports clubs, while among the individual memorials are two in Northampton, to the black footballer Walter Tull  and to Edgar Mobbs the rugby international.

I have been able to identify some British Olympians who fell in the First World War:

•2nd Lt G.R.L. ‘Twiggy’ Anderson, The Cheshire Regt, died 9 Nov.1914 aged 25. He was a hurdles finalist at the Stockholm Olympics in 1912.
Captain H.S.O. Ashington, East Yorkshire Regt, died 31 Jan.1917 also aged 25. He was educated at Harrow and Cambridge, and was in the English team at Stockholm.(See 11163)
•2nd Lt A.E. Flaxman, South Staffordshire Regt, died aged 36 on the first day of the Somme.
Captain Wyndham Halswell, (25256)  Highland Light Infantry, died 31 March 1915. A professional soldier who had served in the Boer War, he won a gold medal at the 1908 London Olympics in controversial circumstances. In the final of the 400 metres he was blocked by one, or two, American opponents and the race declared void. The Americans refused to take part in the re-run and Halswell won by a walkover.
•Serjeant G.W. Hutson, Royal Sussex Regt, died aged 25 on 14 Sep. 1914. A regular soldier, he came 3rd in the 5000 metres at Stockholm.
•Private Kenneth Powell, Honourable Artillery Company, died 18 Feb. 1915, aged 29. A celebrated hurdler, he was an unplaced finalist at Stockholm and represented Cambridge both at hurdles and lawn tennis.
•I have also found a reference to another hurdler called Cubitt, but have not yet identified him among the 36 of that name on the CWGC Debt of Honour Register.

Research is continuing into other Olympic casualties for the First World War and later conflicts, so if you know anything, please let us know.

Douglas War Memorial, Isle of Man (Somersetman)

Douglas War Memorial, Isle of Man (Somersetman)

The Isle of Man is proposing to establish a new government body to oversee the care and preservation of its war memorials. The body will keep a record of all the war memorials located on the Isle and ensure that they are kept in good repair. It will not have any legal powers but the fact that it would have the support of the Council of Ministers will give it some influence.

Throughout the UK some local councils have recognised the importance of their war memorials but this is the first time a government body has been proposed. Will it or should it be the last?