Whilst touring north Nottinghamshire in February 2016 I was shocked and saddened to come across this memorial headstone in the churchyard of St John the Evangelist, Carlton-in-Lindrick.
One of the most poignant sights I have seen in years of research. The memorial to Private George Jackson, Sherwood Foresters.
Of the many hundreds of memorials I have come across, this was the first example of a statue on the grave of an individual, rather than for a community monument.
The inscription read:
“To the glorious memory of Pte George Wallace Jackson, 2/5 Sherwood Foresters, who fell in action in France, March 21st 1918, aged 22 years.
‘Greater Love Hath No Man Than This: That A Man Lay Down His Life For His Friends.’
This memorial was erected by his sorrowing mother.”
A further inscription marked the death of that mother, Charlotte Padley (formerly Jackson) in 1926.
I wondered if how the monument came to be that, hoping it was nature rather than vandalism. George Jackson’s mother had sought to come to terms with her loss through the use of the quotation from John 15:13, seen on so many memorials.
I decided that I could not leave this situation as it was and that further research was in order.
A search of the newspaper archives revealed this moving report from the Worksop Guardian of 1st August 1919:
After many months of suspense, the news has reached Mrs Charlotte W. Padley, Carlton that her son, Pte George Wallace Jackson, 2nd / 5th Bn. Sherwood Foresters, reported missing since March 21st 1918, was killed on that date. Pte Jackson, who was 22 years of age, was a well-conducted youth and respected by all who knew him.
Before enlisting, he was employed by the Worksop Co-operative society, where he went as soon a he left school, his brother and sister also being employed by the same society.
Pte Jackson was a son any mother might be proud of, and he leaves behind a memory which will long be cherished.
The Army Council forward a message of sympathy from the King and Queen, and his mother has also the sympathy of all who knew her gallant son in her bereavement.
George’s body was never recovered and he is one of nearly 35,000 names on the Arrass Memorial.
His mother, Charlotte, would have received the £24 12s 6d owing to George in back pay and war gratuity. I wonder if this money, a sum of around £1200 at 2016 values, was used to pay for the memorial?
The page from the Army’s Register of Soldiers’ Personal Effects relating to George Jackson (c) ancestry.co.uk
So we have managed to find some further details about George Jackson, but what of the distressing state of his memorial? I emailed the vicar of the church who passed my contact on to Maurice Stokes, a parishioner who is investigating the possibility of restoration. To date (27th February 2016) a request has been made for an authentic copy of the complete uniform of the Sherwood Foresters. In addition an appeal is to be launched to trace any living relatives of George Jackson.
Mr Stokes has also gathered an estimate for the cost of the repair of the memorial, valued at £1000 to £1500.
Therefore, using the reach of social media, I am putting out an appeal to trace any relatives of George Jackson.
George had four surviving siblings plus a half brother.
His siblings were:
Evelyn Georgina Jackson (1888-1945)
Bazell Jackson (1891-1914)
Mildred Jackson (1895-?)
George Jackson (1896-1918)
Evelyn married George Betts in 1909 a they had five surviving children. These people were the nieces and nephews of Private George Jackson.
Joseph Norman Betts (1913-1995)
John Charles Betts (1915-1991)
Irene Betts (1917-1998)
Charlotte Betts (1920-2013)
They all seemed to have retained a connection to North Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.
So the appeal at the moment is threefold:-
- To find further information on Private George Jackson, and to see if family members can provide a photograph and any knowledge as to where his campaign medals and `death penny’ might be.
- To find any further examples of gravestone / memorials like this one to get as an authentic reproduction as possible.
- To raise the funds for a proper restoration so that the memory of Private Jackson can be restored and full respect given to the sacrifice he gave, emblematic of that of hundreds of thousands of other young shop assistants, factory workers, clerks, postmen, teachers and people from all walks of life across the land.
Therefore if anyone can help with any of these three objectives, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations towards the restoration can be made by clicking here
Update March 2016 –
ON 1ST JULY 2016, AT 7.30am, I SHALL BE SETTING OFF TO ATTEMPT TO RUN 60,000 YARDS (APPROXIMATELY 35 MILES) IN 6 HOURS, ONE FOR EVERY BRITISH SOLDIER KILLED OR INJURED ON THAT DAY IN 1916, THE FIRST DAY OF THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME. THIS IS PART OF THE BATTLE OF THE SOMME CENTENARY CHALLENGE RUN
I SHALL BE DONATING THE MONEY RAISED THROUGH THIS CHALLENGE TO THE RESTORATION OF PTE. JACKSON’S MEMORIAL.
TO SPONSOR ME IN THIS CHALLENGE, CLICK HERE
Update May 2016
I have received communication from members of George Jackson’s family who were able to provide the following information:
George Wallace Jackson’s father, George Jackson, had been killed in a mining accident in 1898 whilst working at Wath Main Colliery in South Yorkshire. He was 30 years old and was run over by a wagon on an inclined plane.
It has been possible to find a picture of Charlotte, the widow of George Jackson sr and the mother of Private George Wallace Jackson. It was Charlotte who paid to have the vandalised memorial erected.
In addition, a photograph is in existence of a young man in the uniform of the Notts and Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwood Foresters) to which both George Wallace Jackson and his half-brother, Cyril Padley, belonged. At this stage it is not known which of these it is. Cyril died in 1976, aged 77, in Retford, Nottinghamshire. Therefore the next stage is to contact the regional press to see if the photograph can be identified.
In addition I was given details of other family members which I shall be following up to see if they can shed any further light on the mystery.
The search continues…
Update August 2016
Due to enquiries made by family members with whom I have been in contact, a photograph of George Wallace Jackson himself has come to light. It looks as if it was taken in his mid-teens, probably at the time he started work with the Worksop Co-operative Society. My impression on seeing it was of the innocence and hope of youth, and a further example of the promise that was destroyed during the war. I now feel the pieces of the jigsaw are coming together.
John Broom is the author of Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the First World War, published by Pen and Sword.