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Thursday 4 September 2008

An empty grave

Scattered throughout the county are a number of what appear to be gravestones marking the last resting place of deceased servicemen. In this, however, they are misleading, for there is no body and they must be viewed as memorials.

One such rather neglected example is in the churchyard of St Thomas's Church, Kendal where a stone commemorates Captain Evelyn Henry Le Mesurier Sinkinson, 24th Punjabis. He 'Fell Heroically' near Nazirieh (Nasariyah), Mesopotamia (Iraq), on July 4th 1915, aged 33.

Why is the memorial here? The CWGC Debt of Honour register shows that his mother, Katharine Irene - the widow of Edward James Sinkinson of the Indian Civil Service, was remarried to a Mr Fisher by the time the Imperial War Graves Commision was gathering personal information in the early 1920s and living at 49 Haverstock Hill, Hampstead, London. Captain Evelyn was born in Allahabad. So, did they live in Kendal during the war years? Was Captain Evelyn married with a home in Kendal?

Since adding this posting I have received a message from

The administrator of this WW1 chatroom/blog listed the posting and the following appeared;

Eldest surviving son of the late James Sinkinson, sometime Financial Secretary to the Supreme Government of India, and of his wife, Irene Sinkinson, now Mrs. Victor Fisher, and grandson of Colonel C. B. Le Mesurier, C.B., D.S.O., and of Contessa Zancarol. Godson of the late Lord Roberts.

Captain Sinkinson joined the Militia in 1901, and volunteered for active service in South Africa. He was gazetted to the Liverpool Regiment in 1902. During operations in the Transvaal he was severely injured in the leg and was unable to rejoin his Regiment until 1904: he received the Queen's Medal and three clasps. He then transferred to the Indian Army, and was gazetted Captain in 1911. While in India, during 1914, he was Recruiting Officer for the Sikhs and Dogras. His great ambition, however, was to see really active service, and this was gratified, when, in 1915, he was sent to Mesopotamia and succeeded in getting into the firing line, "where every keen soldier must desire to be," as he wrote home.

After the action of July 14th, 1915, he was reported as missing. Two months later a telegram was received saying, "Captain Sinkinson's dead body has been found and buried where he fell by the Regiment."

Major Cook-Young, of the Indian Expeditionary Force D, wrote;

"The Regiment as usual did magnificently, but were attacked by Arabs behind the Turkish position in front . . . the operation was mostly in deep water, up to the waist and higher. Captain Sinkinson was not at first wounded, and, it appears, tried to rally the men. What is so sad is that he could have got out of it, but refused, and sent two men back for ammunition. These two Sepoys were grand men and tried forcibly to carry Captain Sinkinson out of action he would not permit it. . . . On returning to the place where they had left him he was not there. The obvious thing was that he had been killed, and his body lost in deep water.
His loss to me is irreparable. I never had any affection for any individual in this world as I had for him, and I only wish I had been there to save him or to die with him."

Tuesday 2 September 2008

A bit further with Denton Lee, Langdale

Just received an email from Agnes Ebrey about James Denton Lee's memorial stone in Busk Wood, Langdale. It was sent to her by a third party who continues to look into the stone's origins.

Apparently James' sister, who never married and became a successful hairdresser
in Blackpool, paid for a National Trust woodland to be planted and James'
memorial to be placed there. She also paid for a seat to be placed in his memory
at Trinity College Cambridge.

So probably more to come in due course. The next thing is clearly to email the archivist at Trinity College, Cambridge for info on James. Watch this space!