A CENTURY OF WORLD WAR MEMORIES is commemorated in the north Northumberland parish of Ford this weekend. It was 100 years ago, on August 22, 1920 that James, the first Lord Joicey, unveiled a glorious marble triptych memorial in St Michael & All Angels church.
It must have been a doubly solemn moment for the newly-ennobled Lord Joicey: the first mentioned fatality on the Ford memorial is Lord Joicey’s elder son, The Hon. Sydney James Drever Joicey, captain and adjutant of 10th Northumberland Fusiliers, who was killed in action near Calonne in France on March 20, 1916, aged 31.
He was not the only Joicey to die in service of his country: on a supplementary tablet listing the dead of the Second World War the first name is that of Lieutenant David Hugh Joicey of the Coldstream Guards, elder son of the 3rd Baron Joicey. He died of wounds received at Salerno in south-west Italy on September 25, 1943, aged just 21.
Fittingly it is Lt Joicey’s nephew, The Hon. Andrew Joicey, who is the current president of the Royal British Legion’s North Northumberland branch, which is appealing for help in establishing dedication dates for war memorials across North Northumberland.
Most memorials comprise a cross or cairn at the roadside but not far from the Ford triptych, in St Paul’s church in nearby Branxton, are displayed two beautiful stained glass windows. Thousands of such memorials were erected across the United Kingdom in the years immediately after World War I to reflect the massive impact on communities of the loss of more than 700,000 British lives in the conflict.
Paid for mainly by funds raised locally, these crosses, cairns, statues and plaques served to complement and compensate for the official policy of not repatriating the war dead. Hundreds of thousands of the fallen had no funeral and no grave at home, so the local memorials gave a permanent focus for the grief felt in settlements large and small.
There are 25 war memorials in the area covered by the North Northumberland branch of the RBL, from Cornhill in the west to Holy Island in the east and from Beadnell in the south to Berwick in the north. So the RBL wants to hear from anyone , local history buffs especially, who can confirm the dedication dates of the World War memorials at Beadnell, Branxton, Chatton, Cornhill, Doddington, East Ord and Lowick. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any information regarding when these were unveiled.
Thanks to a connection made via VoiceoftheNorth.net I am, over the next few years, writing a Facebook post on each memorial marking its centenary, to keep alive the memory of the dead of both conflicts and to raise the profile of the RBL’s work today.
The first to be dedicated after WW1 in our area was at Norham, which was unveiled on May 28, 1919. The last and largest is in Berwick, dedicated on Armistice Day, 1923.
Most of the research for my Facebook posts is being handled by Branxton-based Rob Porteous of the local RBL branch, who contacted me after I wrote about Corporal Thomas Quin of Norham for VoiceoftheNorth.net
We know the dedication dates of the memorials in Ancroft, Bamburgh, Belford, Berwick, Chillingham, Crookham, East Learmouth (Carham), Ford, Holy Island, Horncliffe, Kirknewton, Lucker, Norham, Scremerston, Seahouses, Spittal, Tweedmouth and Wooler.
I would be delighted to have confirmation of the date of unveiling of the other seven listed above. Additionally, any photographs, anecdotes and information relating to the servicemen from either world war who are listed on the 25 memorials in our area would be gratefully received.
My Facebook post on Norham, the first in the series of 25, can be found here.
In September I will be writing about the memorials at East Learmouth (for Carham parish) and at Horncliffe, which were dedicated on the same day, 19th September 1920.
Importantly, the Royal British Legion continues to aid ex-service personnel and their families today. The local branch would be pleased to welcome new members who can work in the communities across our area.
Anyone can join the RBL for just £17 per year. You can enrol at www.britishlegion.org.uk or by calling the very helpful people at Membership Services on 0800 307 7773.