New interpretation boards shed light on Melton’s Great War heroes

Melton Mowbray Town Estate feoffee John Southerington and senior townwarden Dinah Hickling with the new interpretation boards EMN-160628-185342001
Melton Mowbray Town Estate feoffee John Southerington and senior townwarden Dinah Hickling with the new interpretation boards EMN-160628-185342001
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An extensive research project backed by generous Melton people and businesses is now painting a clearer picture of the sacrifices made by brave Meltonians who gave their lives in the First World War.

Three new ‘interpretation boards’ were installed in the Egerton Lodge Memorial Gardens this week, giving more information about the fallen servicemen who previously were only mentioned by name on eight of the 12 stone plaques at the war memorial.

Celina Lucas and her three-year-old daughter, Darcie, view the information about Celina's great great uncle, Sgt Robert Orton, displayed on one of the interpretation boards EMN-160628-190133001

Celina Lucas and her three-year-old daughter, Darcie, view the information about Celina's great great uncle, Sgt Robert Orton, displayed on one of the interpretation boards EMN-160628-190133001

One of the boards provides a timeline of the Great War (1914-1918), while on one side of the other boards people can now see the names, ranks, regiments and ages of those who fell, the dates they were killed and photos of some of the heroes.

The details of these 247 servicemen are listed on the boards, alongside pictures of the stone plaques at the war memorial which bear their names.

On the other side of two of the boards are the names and some pictures of 347 servicemen who were either born, enlisted or resided in Melton, but whose names are not on the actual war memorial.

There is also information explaining about the medals awarded to those who served in the First World War and interesting wartime extracts which were published in the Melton Times.

The boards can be found on the main path parallel with the River Eye and to the left of the path leading to the steps.

It all marks the culmination of a two-year campaign, launched by the Melton Times and Melton Mowbray Town Estate, to shed more light on those who valiantly lost their lives during the Great War.

The Melton Times supported the campaign by providing information on some of the town’s fallen and our readers, as well as local businesses, played their part in helping to

raise £14,000 to pay for the new displays. Project co-ordinator and Melton Mowbray Town Estate feoffee John Southerington drove the campaign forward and was instrumental in securing Heritage Lottery funding towards the scheme.

His son, Paul, carried out much of the research into the fallen servicemen featured on the interpretation boards as well as designing them.

Thanks must also go to those who supported the project by researching the Meltonians who gave their lives in the Great War. They include historian Trevor Hearn, Melton Carnegie Museum and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

In addition to the new information provided on the interpretation boards, even more information on local servicemen has been compiled which is intended to be put onto a website in due course for people to see.

John said: “I think it’s appropriate that these new interpretation boards give a clearer picture about the names on the war memorial, including putting faces to some of the names.

“They put the record straight, give more recognition of those who sacrificed their lives and provide a better understanding, especially for the younger generation.

“The Melton Mowbray Town Estate would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this project, either through their time or by donations.”

Paul said the process of listing the names on the interpretation boards included visiting other war memorials in the area, adding that some names may not be listed on the boards if those people are already memorialised elsewhere.

One of the first people to see the new interpretation boards was Melton woman Celina Lucas. A photo and information about her great-great-uncle, sergeant Robert Orton, is included on one of the boards.

She said: “I think they’re fantastic. It makes me feel really emotional and really proud of all of the servicemen. If it wasn’t for them then we probably wouldn’t be standing here now.

“Most info we have on my great-great-uncle is already on the plaque. Robert was a local barber working in his family business with his brother, Alfred. They had two shops, one of which is now YumYums In Cheapside, Melton.

“During the time Robert was in the trenches he was engaged to a local school teacher, Lilly Dawson. He was also in the Local Territorials before joining the war.

“He was a keen local footballer and requested a football to be sent over to the trenches but, unfortunately, by the time it had got to Robert he had been killed.

“As far as I know my mum, sister and cousin have been to Sanctuary Wood Cemetery near Ypres to find Robert’s grave.”