One of the more poignant memorials to the casualties of the First World War may be found within Prestbury Cemetery in Cheltenham. Passing through the gates of the cemetery, on the right hand side is the Gloucesters Memorial and Crosses.
Prestbury Cemetery. Gloucesters Memorial highlighted in red
At first glance the memorial really looks like a rack for storing garden tools, but as you get closer only then do you realise what it is you are seeing.
Beneath the four simple wooden shelters are the original grave markers that stood on the graves of fallen soldiers. Unfortunately, over the years they have lost their legibility and today some of which I cannot identify. There are 21 markers in total and they represent the graves of 21 men. I have since added in a link to the relevant CWGC page for each identified cross.
Extreme left hand shelter
From left to right: L/cpl Leslie James Silvester (1st 5th Gloucesters, 20/05/1915), Pte HR. Arundell (1st 4th Gloucesters 15/04/1917), Pte Ernest G. Smith (2nd 5th Gloucesters, 17/04/1917), Pte William. Regan (1st 3rd Monmouthshire Regt. 22/05/1915), No visible identification.
Left inward shelter
From left to right: Lt Francis Charles Erlin Clarke (Worcs Regt and RFC. 11/10/1917), No visible identification, Pte Charles William Harwood (1st Bn Devonshire Regt. 04/10/1917), Not Legible, Maj Lionel Goodeve (1st Bn Royal Scots Fusiliers. 26/08/1916), Damaged, crosspiece has legible identification.
In the centre is another cross which is marked with more names of soldiers that fell in August 1916.
Inner right hand shelter
From left to right: 2Lt. Kenneth Gerard Gurney (spelt Gournly on the marker) 5th Bn Gloucester Regt, 17/10/1917), Pte Sidney Leonad Dean (1st Bn Dorsetshire Regt 27/08/1918), No visible identification, No visible identification, Pte Harold Edgar. Ralph (171st Labour Coy, 15/04/1918).
Right hand side outside
From left to right: Capt. John Harold Elleston. Rickerby MC. (2/5 Gloucester Regt, 22/03/1918), Maj. John Gwynne Griffith (32nd Lancers, 24/05/1915), Lt. Reginald Anthony. Lyon (Army Cyclist Corps, 13/08/1917), Pte. Arthur Thomas Hiron (Nth Staffs Regt. 15/10/1918), Not Legible.
This is a unique memorial, although the brown paintwork does make it look impersonal, and of course over the years the identification of some of the markers has been lost. It is a pity that the markers were not given a coat of a clear varnish so that the original colouring of the them could be seen. Not too many of these early wooden markers have survived, and this is the biggest collection that I have ever seen. It is a very humbling experience.
© DRW 2015 – 2018. Created 09/08/2015. Changed spelling throughout page to Gloucesters 03/11/2017, corrected link that points to blogger, added CWGC links and added new images.