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

 

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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

Clarence Cox – Sherwood Forester Immortalised in Gloucestershire Glass

Cox

 

On a slope overlooking the city of Gloucester stands the village of Maisemore.

Outside the parish church of St. Giles stands a Celtic Cross war memorial and inside the church there is a lovingly produced roll of honour which features the Belgian flag in the centre alongside the Union Flag and Royal Standard with the flags of France, Russia, Japan and Serbia in the corners.  In a way, this demonstrates the centrality of the notion of Britain coming to the aid of `little Belgium’ as a reason for war.

IMG_0133

However my eye was drawn to a lovely east window, at the bottom of which is the inscription:IMG_0121

To the memory of Lieutenant C.F.S. Cox and his gallant comrades of Maisemore who fell in the Great War 1914-1918

Clarence Cox himself is shown as St. George, with his face clearly visible in the window.

IMG_0126

The reredos screen with two striking carvings was also installed in his memory.

IMG_0124

Fortunately the kind gentleman who entered the church to ask if we had any questions directed me towards a comprehensive booklet, Maisemore Men: Lest We Forget, written by Robin Stayt in 2003 from which some of the information below is taken.

Clarence Frederick Stuart Cox was born in Nottingham in 1896, the son of Arthur Cox and Abeth Julia Cave, the former already a widower.   In 1910 Arthur died and Abeth remarried John Joseph Cridlan, the owner of the Maisemore Park estate in Gloucestershire.  He was a famous agriculturalist, specialising in the breeding of Aberdeen Angus Cattle.

Clarence attended Trent College in Nottingham and spent holidays at Maisemore.  In 1914 he was accepted by the University of Sheffield to study a non-degree course.  However the war interrupted his studies and he volunteered to join the Sherwoord Foresters in Febraury 1915.  He spent some time with reserve and training units before transferring to the 10th Battalion and arrived at the Somme in 1916, shortly after the initial British attack of 1st July.  The Battalion was on front line duty at Delville Wood but spent some time at Canroy Camp away from the front line.

Clarence and a fellow officer, Captain Normal Knight, took the opportunity of a break between duties to teach the French children at a nearby school.  Knight wrote home that Clarence was hilarious and the children, `grew quite fond of us and were sorry we had to return to the Line.’ (1)  However this was a brief respite and the battalion was soon in action at the Battle of Arras in April 1917.

In September 1917 a party of 38 men, including Clarence, comprised a raiding party on enemy lines.  They crossed no-man’s land and inflicted many casualties on the enemy, with one prisoner being taken.  He happened to be the enemy’s military postman and his postbag contained valuable intelligence information.  For this action Clarence, along with two others, was awarded the Military Cross.  The Gloucestershire Chronicle ran a detailed report on 19 January 1918: (2)

Gloucestershire Chronicle pic.pdf

In late October the battalion moved to support lines in the Wijdendrift sector, where `C’ company used a disused pill-box for its HQ.  However on 29 October it was heavily shelled, and a direct hit killed three men instantly, including Clarence.

Two of the privates who served with Clarence wrote to Abeth about her son:

He was always so good to us al were ever (sic) we was in the trenches or out and that is the sort of man for us out here. (2)

Another young man of talent and character cut down before he had a chance to blossom into adulthood.

The theme of Christianity in the First World War is explored in more depth in my book  Fight the Good Fight: Voices of Faith from the First World War

Fight the Good Fight

 

(1) Robin Stayt, Maisemore Men: Lest We Forget (2003), p.22
(2) Gloucestershire Chronicle, 19 January 1918
(2) Stayt, p.23