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Branch History

Welcome to the Stibbington & District Branch of The Royal British Legion

The Branch was certainly in existence in the 1930s, but a detailed history of the early years of the branch is difficult to produce, as most of the records are lost. With servicemen returning home after the 1939-1945 war membership increased, but by the early 80s the number of members had reached a dangerously low level. A determined campaign to gain more members and stop the branch closing by the present President, David Powell, resulted in a healthy increase in numbers and membership was about 150 in 2008.

The Branch does not have a club, but the Legion owns the Christie Hall which is named after Major and Mrs Christie, who gave the ground and materials for the hall which was built in 1952 by volunteers, mainly members of the Legion. The building is used as a community hall which is now leased to the parish councils of Stibbington, Thornhaugh and Wansford and run by a management committee.

There is no women's section, but women make up about 40% of the membership. The branch has a very open attitude to membership encouraging the community to support the RBL. Ex-Service members are now outnumbered by those who were not in the Services.

No 1: Thornhaugh (St Andrew) Churchyard Cross (TF069006)

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The Churchyard Cross is one of two memorials erected at Thornhaugh in memory of the fallen of the First World War. The other is a tablet in St Andrew's Church, which records those from the parish who lost their life. The Cross is a general memorial thanking God for saving our country and in memory of all that lost their lives in the war. It has two simple inscriptions: To the glory of God who saved our country in her time of peril and In memory of those who gave their lives for their country in the Great War 1914-1918.

The Stamford architect, HF Traylen, designed the Cross and its plinth and the work was executed in local stone by the stonemasons Belton and Goddard of Great Casterton. The Revd JRH Duke, the Rector of Thornhaugh cum Wansford, organised the public appeal and several church collections during 1919 were taken for the appeal.

The Cross was dedicated by the Bishop of Peterborough at Evening Prayer on Sunday, 30th May 1920 before a congregation of over 200 parishioners.

No 2: Thornhaugh (St Andrew) 1939-1945 War Memorial Tablet inside church (TF069006)

 

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On Sunday, 30th September 2001 the branch finalised four years of work, research and planning, when the 1939-1945 memorial for the parish of Thornhaugh with Wansford was dedicated. It records the death of Gunner Edward Sydney Emblow 336 Battery, 135th (Herts Yeomanry) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery, who died of his wounds in Singapore on 29th January 1942.

Before the service a quarter peal was rung by the Peterborough Branch of the Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers in memory of Gunner Emblow. The church was full of branch members, local residents, members of the Emblow family and representatives from the unit of which Gunner Emblow was a member.

Our branch standard was paraded along with the Huntingdonshire County Union Flag and the Standard of the Peterborough branch of the Royal Artillery Association. Lance Corporal Hunter of the East of England Regiment sounded the Last Post and the Reveille.

The Rural Dean, the Revd Philip Clements and our Branch Chaplain, the Revd Leonard Oakley took the service.


The cost of the memorial was shared between the Thornhaugh Parish Council and the Wansford Parish Council.

No 3: Elton. The Wayside Shrine Memorial on the B671 (TL089936)

 

 

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On the gable end of the wall of the Elton Estate Yard, opposite the gates of the parish church, is an unusual memorial with a wooden crucifix that reminds one of a French wayside shrine. This is not so surprising as it seems because Elton, influenced by Father Faber in the mid-nineteenth century, has always had a tradition of Anglo-Catholicism. Whether it is a war memorial is matter of opinion, but as well as being a memorial to Joscelyn, Baroness Lewal it asks 'All ye who pass by, remember before God the men who have gone forth from this place to serve their country in the Great War.'

 

he memorial was erected after mid 1917, by which time some of those who had gone forth would have lost their lives, so the second inscription says = 'Whosoever will save his life shall lose it. Whosoever will lose his life for my sake the same shall find it.'

The Proby Family* are quite certain that it is foremost a memorial to Joscelyn, Baroness Lewal, a member of the family who died on 13th June 1917 aged 29. When her memorial was erected the family decided they would include all those who served and died in the Great War.

The memorial was originally sited at Rectory Farm (TL087938), but when this was sold and turned into houses, the family decided to move the memorial. For some time it was stored at Elton Hall and then finally moved to its present position. There is a village war memorial for the two world wars in the churchyard of All Saints', the parish church.

* Lady Blanche Proby provided much of this information in a letter to the Treasurer of the Stibbington and District Branch of the Royal British Legion dated 23rd November 1999.

 

No 4: Sutton Church Memorial

 

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On the southern wall of Sutton Church above the font there is a war memorial

commemorating those killed in the first world war.

 

THIS MONUMENT TOGETHER WITH THE REREDOS IS ERECTED IN HUMBLE THANKFULNESS TO GOD FOR DELIVERANCE FROM OUR ENEMIES IN THE WAR 1914 - 1918

AND TO THE GLORIOUS MEMORY OF OUR FALLEN MAY THE EXAMPLE OF THEIR SUPREME SACRIFICE INSPIRE FUTURE GENERATIONS TO ANSWER THE CALL OF DUTY

LT COL L.O.GRAEME 1st CAMERON HIGHLANDERS

GNR G CLARK NOTTS AND DERBY REGIMENT

PTE W.P. GLOVER 19th Q.A.O HUSSARS

THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE

Nearby on the same wall there is also a partially glass fronted tablet. Behind the glass is a pipe with the regimental emblazon used by the 1st Battalion the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders from 1876 to 1936. This was presented by his friends the officers past and present in remembrance of Lietenant Colonel L O Graeme CMG who commanded the battalion and was killed in action at Loos in March 1916.

The wooden cross from Lt Col Graeme's orignal grave is hanging nearby.

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