Search This Blog

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Ponsonby & Great Orton Rolls of Honour

These Rolls of Honour in Ponsonby & Great Orton use a pre-printed design that is quite common throughout the county. Having acquired it the services of a professional illuminator might be employed to inscribe the names and add suitable decoration, the services of a local 'artist' might be called upon or people could simply be invited to add names at will. Such blanks were freely adapted to accommodate the aesthetic preferences of different communities. No two are the same.

These two examples differ in that the Ponsonby roll only has the names of the dead.

It also appears to have been inscribed after WW2 as it contains the name of a man who was killed with the Seaforths in 1942. Was this added to earlier names or was the design still available post 1945? I don't know.

The Great Orton roll appears to bear the names of all who served entered in the same hand but in a rather haphazard fashion suggesting that some member of the community was given charge of the roll either during or after the conflict.

Unusually it has been further embellished with a substantial frame decorated with regimental badges. It is not unreasonable to imagine that these may have been worn by village soldiers, and that their inclusion added a further degree of intimacy between memorial and veteran. The picture of the soldier appears on a number of other rolls in the county.

The staff at the UKNIWM at the Imperial War Museum are not aware of this design but its prevalence in Cumbria may thus suggest that it was produced somewhere in the north of England.

Many firms produced standardised forms such as this both during and after the Great War. Some, encased in wooden frames and weatherproofed, were adopted as street shrines usually in industrial communities, and inscribed with the names of the men from a specific neighbourhood who were serving. Commonly they were heavily decorated with flags, bunting and floral tributes. Very few have survived nationally and I am not aware of any examples being erected in Cumbria though they would almost certainly have been a feature of the war years in West Cumberland or Carlisle.

No comments: