Restoring the memory of Private George Wallace Jackson, Sherwood Foresters

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.

George Jackson

 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?

George Jackson effects

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:-

  1. 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.
  2. To find any further examples of gravestone / memorials like this one to get as an authentic reproduction as possible.
  3. 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 johnbroom@aol.com.

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

Many thanks

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.

Charlotte Jackson Padley.jpg

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.

Charlotte Jackson's son (2).jpg

 

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.

George Wallace Jackson

 

John Broom is the author of Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the First World War, published by Pen and Sword.

http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Fight-the-Good-Fight-Hardback/p/11370

Fight the Good Fight

 

Advertisements

Walkeringham’s Sunday School Prayer List

John Broom is the author of Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the First World War, published by Pen and Sword in 2015.

http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Fight-the-Good-Fight-Hardback/p/11370

Fight the Good Fight

 

Whilst revisiting the secluded but welcoming St. Mary Magdalene Church at Walkeringham, North Nottinghamshire on a crisp winter day in February 2016, I came across a new addition to the war commemoration memorabilia in the church.

St Mary Magdalene, Walkeringham.jpg

St Mary Magdalene, Walkeringham (c) John Broom

Whilst restoring the First World War Roll of Honour for display during the years of centenary commemorations, a beautiful hand made prayer board had been discovered lodged behind the frame. On it, each member of the Sunday School had been asked to nominate a male relative on active service, and to state which service that relative was in.

Walkeringham Roll of Honour.jpg

Walkeringham’s Roll of Honour

The churchwarden had asked for comments as to whether the prayer board should be placed back where it was found, behind the Roll of Honour, or to be separately mounted for display. For me the answer is not in question. This prayer board provides a further connection to the people of a hundred years ago, and demonstrates the bonds between children and men on active service being strengthened by the Christian faith. However perhaps you may have a view you may wish to put forward? The contact details can be found here:-

http://www.achurchnearyou.com/walkeringham-st-mary-magdalene1/#

Walkeringham Sunday School Prayer Board.jpg

Children’s Corner Prayer Board (c) John Broom

Bonds between children and those in uniform in an educational context have been explored in an excellent new book by Dr Barry Blades, Roll of Honour: Schooling and the Great War (Pen and Sword, 2015). However this is the first example I have seen in the hundreds of churches I have visited of such a prayer board for Sunday School Scholars.

Sadly four of the men being prayed for did not return home safely from the war. The small Nottinghamshire village sustained a death list of 26 men, with 4 more being found by subsequent research on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

Addendum:

I thought it appropriate to transcribe the names on the board

Margaret Parkrin Sapper G. Valentine Royal Engineers
Thomas Hill Pte. John H. Hill King’s Liverpool Rgt.
Roland Dawson L/C W. Dawson Sherwood Rangers
Alice Spray Pte. F.H. Parke Leicester Rgt
Gladys Greaves Corp. G.S. Garrard Royal Engineers
Albert Willerton Pte. J.W. Willerton East Surrey Rgt
John Spencer Lockwood Pte. J. Lockwood A.S.C.
Vera Willerton Corp. J.T. Mackfall Royal Engineers
Charles Spencer Pte. H. Spencer Lincolns
Edith Daniels Pte. H. Lobley Sherwood Foresters
Ethel West Pte. F. West Lancashire Fusiliers
Eric Taylor Pte. W.T. Adams R.A.M.C.
Alice Horberry Pte. T. Horberry Derbyshire Yeomanry
May Walker Pte. George Walker Fourth Leicester
Myrintha Cave Sgt. Arthur Shaw Sherwood Foresters
Sarah & Nellie Spencer Driver A. Anderson King’s Liverpool Reg
Leslie Pikett Pte. Charles Otter Royal Field Auxiliary
Hilda Spencer Pte. W. Davison & Pte. W, Clark Notts & Derby & 8th Lincoln Reg
Philip Robinson Pte. Edward Stamp
Albert E., Charlotte & Mabel Lockwood Pte. J. Lockwood Mechanical Transport
Geoffrey Farnsworth Robert Pinck & George Playford Training Reserve & Royal Flying Corp.
Tom Lancaster Corp. J.G. Lancaster Army Vet Corp.

Thomas Horberry, Henry Lobley, Charles Otter and Harry Spencer were the men who did not return.

Perhaps you, the reader, know of further examples? If so I would love to know.

(Dr. Stephen Parker, author of Faith on the Home Front: Aspects of Church Life and Popular Religion in Birmingham, 1939-1945 (Peter Lang, 2005), has responded by saying he has come across many examples of prayers for Sunday School scholars in Birmingham parish magazines during his research. There was a regular special service in one city centre church for this purpose.)

 

As a further point of interest in the church, there are two separate war memorials containing exactly the same names; one made of wood and one of bronze. Again, this is very rare in my experience. I wonder why two such memorials are there? Perhaps a benefactor provided the funds for the bronze one as they thought it would be more robust than the wooden one?

Walkeringham Wooden War Memorial

Wooden War Memorial, St. Mary Magdalene, Walkeringham (c) John Broom

Walkeringham Bronze War Memorial

Bronze War Memorial, (c) John Broom

Southwell Minster (2) The Handford brothers of the Sherwood Foresters

As well as the very special Second World War pieces mentioned in the previous blog post about our visit to Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire, there was a First World War window with a twist to it. It was dedicated to two brothers killed during the war. I have come across other examples of windows to brothers, notably at Mattersey in the same county (see here: https://faithinwartime.wordpress.com/2015/01/13/huntriss-memorial-window-mattersey-nottinghamshire/ ).

However the two young men commemorated here were both killed on the same day; October 14th 1915 at the Hohenzollern Redoubt during the Battle of Loos.

Southwell Minster 1

The inscription in the bottom right hand corner reads:

For a Remembrance before God of Henry Basil Strutt Handford, Capt. VIIIth Battn Sherwood Foresters, and of Everard Francis Sale Handford, Lieut. VIIIth Battn Sherwood Foresters who were killed in action in France on Oct 14th 1915.
`Lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided.’

This moving final sentence was taken from the first book of Samuel, 1:23, referring to the lives of King Saul and his son Jonathan, killed in battle fighting the Philistines. This is yet another example of how the memorialisation of death took on a distinctly Christian flavour in the Britain of 100 years ago.

The window depicts St Michael and St George, and I am sure that the blue dragon being slaughtered sports a large moustache and the features of the German Kaiser!

Henry and Everard were the only sons of Major Henry Handford, the medical officer of health for Nottinghamshire, and Hon Mary Handford. Both had attended Rugby School, with Henry being described as a `fine athlete’ and Everard a `prominent Rugby football player’ in the Nottingham Evening Post of 20th October 1915. Both had won places at Trinity College, Cambridge.

Henry took a 2nd Class in the first part of the law tripos in 1914. He had joined the 8th Sherwood Foresters as Second Lieutenant 13th July 1912, was promoted Lieutenant 2nd September 1914 and Captain 26th April 1915. He volunteered for foreign service in August 1914, leaving his law course unfinished, went to France 25th February 1915 and was killed in action at the Hohenzollern Redoubt 15th October 1915, aged 21.

Southwell Minster 12

Henry Handford

Everard had been born in Nottingham 3rd May 1895. He was due to have taken up residence in Cambridge in October 1914 but volunteered for foreign service in August and obtained a commission as Second Lieutenant in the 8th Sherwood Foresters 3rd October 1914, being promoted Lieutenant 1st October 1915. He went to France in 12th July 1915 and was killed in action at the Hohenzollern Redoubt 15th October 1915, aged 20.

Southwell Minster 11

Everard Handford

Like Rudyard Kipling’s son John, featured in the film `My Boy Jack’, and Percy Paris Pope of the Dorchester brewing family, Henry and Everard’s bodies were never recovered, and they are commemorated on a panel of the Loos Memorial in France.

Today their faces stare at us as a distance of 100 years, faces full of hope for the future and the promise of a life to fulfil. However those lives, which had shared their schooling and university careers, were cut so short like those of hundreds of thousands of others in the conflict.

John Broom is the author of Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the First World War, a series of twenty-three case studies of individuals who experienced the war from a variety of faith perspectives. It features a foreword by respected MP Dan Jarvis, Labour’s spokesman on war commemoration.

Fight the Good Fight

A companion volume, Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the Second World War, featuring many original interviews with people who lived through the conflict.

Fight the Good Fight2

Southwell Minster (1) The RAF, Katyn Forest Massacre and the Battle of Britain

The main reason for a visit to Southwell Minster today was that Russell Barry had served as Bishop of the diocese between 1941 and 1963. He had been an Army Chaplain in the First World War, and his experiences there are featured in my first book, Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the First World War. Russell Barry will be the subject of a further post.

However Southwell Minster turned out to be a real gem of a place. It boasts many superb architectural features, including a complete Romanesque Norman nave and a beautifully decorated octagonal Chapter House. The more recent art instillations, especially the Stations of the Cross, are moving and blend well with the overall ambience of the building, and the stained glass windows reflect both Victorian style and more recent work which is modern without being overtly modernist.

There is also much to appreciate in terms of reference to twentieth century warfare. Firstly, there is a carved wooden memorial containing the names of those men from Southwell who were killed in the two wars, flanked by paintings of St Nicholas and St Mary. The centrepiece shows the crucifixion of Christ, positioning his sacrifice with that of the servicemen. It is a living piece of work, as the names of eighteen men were added in 2011, following research by the local Royal British Legion.

Southwell Minster 9

To the north-east corner of the minster there is an Airmen’s Chapel. In there hang the flags of the RAF and the Polish nation.

Southwell Minster 8

The altar in the chapel was made in 1919 by apprentices at RAF Norton using wood recovered from broken propeller blades found on Western Front battlefields. The communion rail was made at RAF Newton in 1984.

Southwell Minster 5

Airmen’s Chapel Altar Table, made from propeller blades brought back from the Western Front

In the chapel there is also a memorial to the Katyn Forest Massacre of 1941, an event I first became aware of during an undergraduate lecture given in 1990 by Professor Colin Holmes as part of the Eastern Europe 1939-1968 module he taught at the University of Sheffield. Around 14,500 Polish prisoners of war were systematically killed by Soviet forces on the orders of Stalin following the invasion of Poland in 1939-40. Many of the bodies were buried in Katyn Forest, and were discovered in 1943 by Nazi forces.  For five decades the Soviet Union denied responsibility for the massacre, blaming the Nazis, until finally admitting guilt in 1990. Half the Polish officer class was wiped out, ensuring that any independent post-war reconstruction of Poland would be rendered more difficult, thus paving the way for the country’s incorporation into the Eastern Bloc until the fall of communism in the early 1990s. This extermination was backed up by the execution of many professionals who would also have helped to build an independent Poland, including 20 university professors, 300 physicians; several hundred lawyers, engineers, and teachers, and more than 100 writers and journalists.

Southwell Minster 4

Katyn Massacre Memorial

The link between the Katyn Massacre and this small Nottinghamshire town came with the arrival of many Polish refugees in the area, some of whom served in the RAF and others who served in the Nottinghamshire coalfields. Behind the memorial tablet there is an urn containing soil from the Katyn Forest.

Nearby hangs a large lace panel commemorating the Battle of Britain. The lace industry has been associated with Nottinghamshire for many centuries, and the piece is one of thirty-eight made by the Nottingham firm of Dobsons and M. Browne and Co between 1942 and 1946. They mainly made mosquito and camouflage netting during the war. However their designers and draughtsmen found their skills underused, so the company came up with the idea of employing them to design the panels.

Southwell Minster 10

The detail of the Battle of Britain lace panel, this one held by the Australian War Memorial

The panel depicts scenes of the bombing of London, and the types of aircraft used in the battle, as well as the badges of the Allied air forces involved and the floral emblems of Great Britain and the Commonwealth. Also included are the names of the firm and the craftsmen from Dobsons and Browne. At the bottom on a scroll are Winston Churchill’s famous words: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” Buckingham Palace and St Paul’s Cathedral are depicted, as well as some of the London churches destroyed in the blitz. The edging of the curtain is composed of ripening ears of corn representing the season during which the Battle of Britain took place. Interwoven with these are Tudor roses, thistles, shamrocks, and oak leaves.

Thirty-eight panels were woven before the jacquards were destroyed. King George VI and  Winston Churchill were each presented with one, and others were distributed to various RAF units, and to Westminster Abbey, the City of Nottingham (where the panels were woven), the City of London, and personnel from Dobsons and Browne. As airmen from New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and Australia had been attached to various RAF units, these countries also received a panel.

Today the whereabouts of thirty of those panels are known, therefore Southwell Minster contains yet another very special piece of war related memorabilia.

Huntriss Memorial Window, Mattersey, Nottinghamshire

One memorial window which takes the breath away is situated on the south wall of the parish church in Mattersey, Nottinghamshire. The church is one of the majority which thankfully is open during daylight hours, for people to appreciate the serenity and spirituality of the space.

The window commemorates the deaths of three brothers who spent some of their youth in the quiet village. They were the sons of William and Charlotte Huntriss. William had married Charlotte in 1883 and was a successful farmer who by 1911 was living at Mattersey Hall. He died in 1912 before the war broke out. Charlotte was thirteen years younger than her husband and would live until 1939.

The quote above the figures is from Revelation 2:10 and reads:
BE THOU FAITHFUL UNTO DEATH AND I WILL GIVE THEE A CROWN OF LIFE
Underneath the tableau is the inscription:
IN EVER LOVING MEMORY OF LIEUT WILLIAM HUNTRISS, 3RD DUKE OF WELLINGTON’S WEST RIDING REGIMENT (ATTACHED TO GOLD COAST REGIMENT) BORN DECEMBER 16TH 1886; DIED OCTOBER 23RD 1918 AT COOMASSIE, AFRICA.
CAPT. HAROLD EDWARDS HUNTRISS, 1ST BATTALION BEDFORDSHIRE REGIMENT, BORN MAY 23RD 1890; DIED OF WOUNDS AT FESTUBERT, FRANCE MAY 17TH 1915.
CAPT. CYRIL JOHN HUNTRISS, 1ST BATTALION EAST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT. BORN JANUARY 23RD 1893, KILLED AT FRICOURT, FRANCE JULY 1ST 1916.

Cyril was born in Scarborough and educated at Uppingham School. He had served in France since January 1915. Cyril had won the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry on 9th August 1915. At Hooge, Belgium, he had, `led four bombing parties up to the assault on the enemy’s position with the greatest coolness and daring.’ He had also been mentioned in despatches by Field Marshal Sir John French in January 1916. He was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, along with nearly 20,000 other British troops. His body was never found and he is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial.

Harold was born in East Markham, Nottinghamshire. The following information comes from the website http://www.bedfordregiment.org.uk :

Captain Harold Edward HUNTRISS
Killed in action 17th May 1915, aged 24
Harold was born 23rd May 1890 in East Markham, Nottinghamshire, the son of William Huntriss, J.P. and Charlotte Elizabeth Huntriss. He was educated at Uppingham between 1904 and 1908, after which Harold applied to the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy on 29 September 1908, giving his address as Mattersey Hall, Bawtry, Yorkshire.
He was promoted to Lieutenant on 3rd May 1911 and arrived with the 2nd Battalion in France 6th October 1914. Lieutenant Huntriss was hit by shrapnel in the left thigh on the 29th or 30th October, during intense fighting east of Ypres and returned to England to recover after an operation.
Harold returned to the 2nd Battalion in April or May 1915 but was killed at the head of his Company as they advanced to the second German trench line, Major MacKenzie and Lieutenant Hutton-Williams being killed close by. All three were buried together despite the difficulties their men had recovering their bodies after the battle.
At the time of his death, he lived at Harlsen House, Belvedere Road in Scarborough, his widowed mother being his next of kin (resident at 116 Wheelwright Road, Gravelly Hill in Birmingham). There also seems to be a link to Huntriss and Huntriss Solicitors in Halifax who handled his mother’s affairs, his brother William seemingly being a partner within the firm.
Lieutenant Huntriss is buried in the Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, 7km east of Bethune..

William was born in Scarborough and died on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) and died in 1918, a few weeks before the end of the war.

Their names also appear along with the others from the village who made the ultimate sacrifice on the marble tablet next to the window.
One final twist to the tale was that when I came to sign the church visitors’ book, the last entry was for a Brian Huntriss from Leicestershire. I wonder if he is a relation.
John Broom is the author of two critically acclaimed books; Fight the Good Fight, Voices of Faith from the First World War , and Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the Second World War published by Pen and Sword. For a personally signed copy please email johnbroom@aol.com. The cost is £16 plus £4 p+p
Fight the Good FightFight the Good Fight2