Military & Military Related Memorials
(Article kindly supplied by Geoff Smith)
An incomplete list of military graves in the cemetery shows more than 70 memorials to men and women of Rotherham, but there are one or two strange exceptions. For instance:
Driver William Harold Gower, 14604, Australian Field Artillery, died of sickness 4 November 1918, age 23, son of James Henry and Sarah Ann Gower of Latrobe, Tasmania, born in Latrobe. Why does this poor lad have a memorial stone in Rotherham? Was he brought here wounded or sick to die just seven days before the war ended, or did his parents come over to Rotherham to live? We will probably never know. (We have now found more information. Read more about William Harold Gower)
Private S Henry, 456665 2NF/4TH Battalion, Yorks and Lancaster Regiment, died of wounds 22 November 1918. Age 24, son of Mrs Elizabeth Henry of 1219 East Florence Avenue, Los Angeles USA. There is no mention of a father. Did the son spend the early part of his life in Rotherham, thus joining our local Regiment for war service, sadly dying from injuries eleven days after the war ended? Or was he an American casualty of the war brought to Rotherham to recover from his injuries?
It is strange that there seems to be so few memorials to men from our local and now defunct regiment, the Yorks and Lancaster Regiment, who recruited strongly, but not exclusively from the Rotherham, Sheffield and Barnsley areas.
To see the major contribution our famous Regiment made one has only to visit the Clifton Park war memorial to see a toll of 544 names of Rotherham and district men who won 15 Military Medals and one DCM.
Not mentioned on this list is the memorial to Ernest William Jubb, Able Seaman lost with HMS Amphion on August 6th 1914. Surely one of the first Naval men lost in the First World War. HMS Amphion was an Active Class light cruiser of 3,500 tons laid down in 1911 and completed at Pembroke Dockyard in 1913.
War had been declared just twelve hours when, together with the destroyers HMS Lance and HMS Landrail, they apprehended and sank the ex German Mail Ship, Konigen Louise, which had been converted to a minelayer. The British ships together saved a large number of German sailors. Unfortunately early next morning the 6th August 1914 HMS Amphion struck a mine. 149 men of the Amphion were lost, together with a number of German sailors.
Our man Ernest William Jubb was one of the losses.
In War Death Comes In Many Ways … Winnie Blackett, Wren, 6082 HMS Daedalus, Women’s Royal Naval Service 23 November 1940 age 19. Daughter of Allan and Thirza Blackett of Thrybergh.
HMS Daedalus was a Naval Fleet Air Arm Base established in 1917 and transferred to the Royal Air Force in 1918 and then returned to the Royal Navy in 1939. It was based on the Solent opposite the Isle of White and was a front line base which was subjected to many air raids. On 23 November 1940 there was a German night raid on Lee on Solent. An accommodation billet was hit, killing 10 Wrens. Poor Minnie Blackett, just 19 with the world before her was one of the victims of the raid.
A Boy From Canada …
John Parkin, Private 405675 19th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment). 28 April 1917 age 20. Son of Mr and Mrs George Parkin of 42 Brook Crescent, Toronto, Canada.
Early in the war the Canadian Government offered Battalions of troops for the war effort and eventually 260 battalions were formed, each with approximately 1000 officers and men. John William Parkin’s attestation papers prove that he signed up on 5 June 1915. He was 19 years and 4 months old, only 5’ 4” tall, of fair complexion with hazel eyes, brown hair and Presbyterian by faith.
He was not married and his trade was a bicycle mechanic. Tragically John was not to reach his 21st birthday.
Once again the question is why a memorial in Rotherham?
W T Thompson, Stoker 1st Class, 294012, HMS Victory, Royal Navy 23 October 1918.
1st Class Stoker Thompson was part of the British 63 Royal Naval Division formed at the instigation of Winston Churchill.
Naval traditions resisted any attempts to change. They took part in the defence of Antwerp in 1914, the landings and subsequent fighting in the Dardanelles, after which the division was reformed and continued service on the Western Front for the remainder of the war.
It would appear that Stoker Thompson was one of the very late casualties losing his life less than three weeks before hostilities ceased.