Memorial 66 Holy Trinity Church Wetheral

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Holy Trinity Church, Wetheral

The Lychgate and War Memorial


When the people of the parish of Wetheral gathered to ponder the form which their tribute to the Fallen of The Great War might take they considered all the various designs available to them.

They eventually settled on a very English form of memorial, a traditional Lychgate.   This would bear the names of their lost sons and daughters for all to see as they entered and left the Churchyard.

A Lychgate, common to many churchyards of the British Isles since the 15th Century, is historically the point at which the relatives and friends of the deceased would hand over the remains to the keeping of the Church and subsequent interment in the consecrated ground therein. 

The Lychgate generally consisted of a porch-like structure over a gate, built of wood on a stone foundation and roofed with thatch, shingle, or slate.   It would often have seats.   In earliest times the corpse might rest in the lych-gate for a short time at the commencement of the service.  "Lych", is an old word for corpse.

The Lychgate of Holy Trinity Church, Wetheral bears the names of the Lost of The Great War, the Second World War, and subsequent conflicts.   With no disrespect to the latter two groups we list the Fallen of the Great War here.   There are fourteen, three of which also appear on the Memorial plaque in the nearby village of Great Corby.

LCpl John Leonard Caton died on 7th Sept 1915 at the age of 27.   He was serving with C Company of 7th Bn Border Regiment.  A Special Memorial in Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, east of Ypres, records his burial near there.   John was the son of Henry and Isabella Caton, of 8 Latrigg Street, Silloth.   He was born at Isel in Cumbria and, following training at Chester College, became Assistant Master at a Council School in Hendon, in Sunderland.

(A Special Memorial is a CWGC headstone which looks the same as the more usual type but which does not sit over an actual grave. These commemorate soldiers who are known to be buried in that cemetery or nearby but whose exact location is unknown or was lost in subsequent artillery battles over the  area. The inscriptions vary.).

Company Sergeant Major Thomas Wood was the husband of Mary Eleanor Wood, of Pleasant View, Wetheral.   He was a native of Hendon, Sunderland.   Thomas was 32 years old on his death on 4th Sept 1916 while serving with C Coy 2nd Bn Border Regiment.   He is interred in grave ii.D.17. , in Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension.

Pte Stanley Steel was 22 years old when he died on 14th October 1916 while serving with 9th Bn Royal Fusiliers.   He is interred in grave iii.E.24, in Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt.   Stanley was the son of John and Annie Steel, of Heads Nook.

Pte Thomas Bell, of the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry, died on 26th April 1917 at the age of 21.  He is interred in Sailly-Labourse Communal Cemetery, in grave R.3.  Thomas was the son of Robert and Jane Bell, of The Green, Wetheral.

Lieut Percy Langhorn Thompson, whose name also appears on the Memorial Plaque at Great Corby, died at the age of 30 on 12th June 1917 while serving with 14th Bn Durham Light Infantry.  He is interred in Grave I.R.19, Philosophe British Cemetery, Pas De Calais.  Percy was the son of Robert Thompson of Fernbank, Great Corby, and his wife Jane.  Robert Thompson was a solicitor of the Supreme Court.

Rifleman Arthur Hill, who was thirty when he died on 31st July 1917, was serving with 1/5th Kings Liverpool Regiment.   He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 4/6 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.   Arthur was the son of Samuel and Elizabeth Hill, and husband of Mary Elizabeth Hill, of Springhill House, Wetheral.

Pte Gilbert Steel Clarke died on 28th Oct 1917.   He had enlisted as a cavalryman in the Westmorland & Cumberland Yeomanry but was serving as an infantryman with 7th Bn Border Regiment when he died.   He has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel 85/86 of Tyne Cot Memorial.  His age, and his links with Wetheral, are unknown.

Pte J. W. Bedwell Slater, whose age is not known, died on 26th December 1917 (although another record gives the year as 1916).  He served with 2/6th West Yorkshire (Prince of Wales’ Own) Regiment.   He died of wounds following repatriation and is interred in the churchyard of St Paul’s, in Silloth, Cumbria.  Burial records state that he “enlisted in 1914”.

Pte Robert Watson, of 1/4th East Yorkshire Regiment, died on 27th May 1918.  He is interred in Crayonelle French National Cemetery along with 17 unidentified comrades, and six named who died on the same day.   This cemetery also holds 3811 French casualties.   The cemetery is in the Dept of the Aisne, near Soissons.

Private T. Taylor M.M. named on the Great Corby memorial, was 27 years of age when he died of wounds on 8th Oct 1918.  He had served with 2nd Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regt).   However he may have been with a Royal Engineer Company at the time of his death – hence the rank of Sapper on the Memorial.   He was the son of John and Sarah Taylor, of Great Corby.    He is interred in grave V.H.5. Tincourt New British Cemetery, Peronne, Somme Region.   Private Taylor may have been awarded the Military Medal for rescuing a wounded comrade.

Sapper G. Bowman, also named on the Great Corby memorial, was serving with 108 Field Company Royal Engineers, British Salonika Force, when he was killed on 18th Oct 1918 at the age of 23.   He is interred in Dorian Military Cemetery, Thessaloniki, Greece, in Grave V.H.17.    He was the son of Robert and Mary Bowman, of Spring Cottage, Great Corby.

Pte William George Barnfather served with 7th Bn Border Regiment, having enlisted originally in the Westmorland and Cumberland Yeomanry.   He died on 4th November 1918 at the age of twenty-four.  He is interred in grave D.17. Englefontaine British Cemetery, France Nord region.   This is a small cemetery of around 170 burials, situated on the edge of the Foret de Mormal.   William was the son of George and Margaret Barnfather, of Haw Moor, Wetheral.

Gunner James Park, 26 years old on his death from Pneumonia on 12th November 1918, was serving with 149 Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery.  He is interred in Douai British Cemetery, Cuincy, in grave B.11.   James was the son of James and Sarah Park, of Cote House, Wetheral.

Staff Nurse Margaret Ellison Duckers, died on 16th May 1918.  She was 25 years old and serving with the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.  She is interred in Mikra British Cemetery, Kalamaria, in grave reference 254.  Margaret was the daughter of James Samuel and Jane Ducker, of “Edencroft”, Wetheral.

The Obituary of Staff Nurse Duckers.

‘Staff Nurse Margaret Ellison Duckers, Q.A.I.M.N.S. ( R ) , elder daughter of Mr and Mrs J.S. Duckers, Edencroft, Wetheral, died in Salonica on 16th May, aged 25 years. She was trained at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary by Miss Cummins, late Matron of Cumberland Infirmary, and took a first in medicine and also in surgery. She joined Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service (Reserve) and was at the hospital at 71 Vincent Square, London.  When volunteers were requested for foreign service she offered and was sent to Salonica last July. At first she was in a camp nursing our own men. Then the hospital went to Italy and became attached to a hospital for Serbians, originally a French Red Cross, but now taken over by the British, in Macedonia. Her strength gave way under the strain of tent life in winter and the effect of earlier malaria, and she was sent to a convalescent camp and transferred to hospital. She was found unconscious on the floor of the bathroom, and passed away in about two hours. Her death caused much grief. She had a military funeral, many Matrons and Sisters coming long distances to be present. Many wreaths were received from British, Australian and other friends. Among those present at the funeral was Sister Annie Ladbrook of No 43 General Hospital, Salonica, a Wetheral friend, who was awarded a Croix de Guerre for her bravery for rescuing soldiers from a burning train’.

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