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Monday 11 February 2008

Turner window, Armathwaite

What does and does not constitute a war memorial can be contentious. Some may also provide a mystery.

An example of both is this window in the parish church at Armathwaite created by A L Moore of London from a painting by Rubens.

It is dedicated to the memory of Lieutenant Charles Rushton Turner, 3rd Reserve Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. The CWGC register shows that he died on October 30, 1915, aged 40 (and incidentally described as 2nd Lt), at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, Southampton from a Potts fracture sustained by falling off his horse while on parade. A Potts fracture is, in extreme cases, a compound fracture of the ankle, hardly fatal in itself. Is it thus probable that he actually died of septicaemia? A doctors opinion would be appreciated.

Given the accidental nature of the guy's death, can this still be considered a war memorial simply because he died in 1915? Many memorials contain names of men and women who died during or even after conflict from both accidental and natural causes. Those that were erected in the early 1920s commonly include victims of the post war influenza epidemic and there are other, later memorials commemorating people who died through all sorts of accidents, in many instances as civilians. It would thus seem churlish to discount Turner's memorial through a cruel accident of fate.

The mystery arises by the fact of Turner's name appearing on one of the panels of the Hollybrook Memorial, Southampton. These panels are reserved for the names of those primarily lost at sea in home waters who have no known grave. Earl Kitchener is among them. Why is Turner's name included when he died in hospital? Where was he buried? At Armathwaite? At sea? A mystery indeed.


Anonymous said...

At the UK National Inventory of War Memorials we certainly include memorials to those who died while in service - but not from actual combat - which is a stance similar to that taken by the new Armed Forces Memorial in Staffordshire.


Louis said...

That is good to know but it certainly extends the possible number of memorials exponentially!

Anonymous said...

I think I can throw some light on this "mystery". Charles Rushton Turner was my Gt grandfather. He joined the Royal Field Artillery as a private (in spite of coming from a privileged background) because he loved working with horses. In fact, he was so good with them that on the day that his brigade was parading before their Colonel before heading off to the front he was chosen to take the team of horses on the leading gun carriage, as they were playing up a bit. As they passed the Colonel the band stuck up and "spooked" the horses who galloped off out of control. Charles managed to wrestle them out of harms way and undoubtedly saved lives in the process. However, he was eventually thrown from the lead horse and the rest of the team and the gun carriage trampled and crushed him. I imaging he must have also had severe internal injuries and the doctor just listed the most obvious one as the cause of death.
I didn't know of the memorial window, so many thanks for posting the photo of it.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention that the answer to your final question is that he was buried at the Jumpers Road Cemetary in Christchurch (then Hants, now Dorset).

Louis said...

This is wonderful stuff, precisely what I was hoping for when I initiated the blog. Could you give some details on his family background - was it military or rural gentry? Any info gratefully received.