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Old Malton Priory - The War Memorial

The war memorial for the village of Old Malton is on the north wall at the back of the Priory Church. The large plate commemorates thirty-two men of the village who gave their lives in the First World War.

To the Glory of God and in grateful memory of the men from Old Malton
who laid down their lives for their country in the Great War 1914 - 1918

John Arthurs  

Sidney Greenley

James Richardson

Albert Chapman

Martin Harrison

Charles Rickman

Thomas Charles  

  Tom Hessay

Walter Robinson

James Cockerill

Tom Hodgson

 John Harold Rose

Frank Creaser

Aaron Jemmeson

 Harry Smith

Robert Eden

John Johnson

David Stephenson

George Ellis    

Fred Kitching

William Sunley

Samuel Ellis   

James E Kitching  

 Harold Turner


Walter Fox     

 Walter Lightfoot

Harry Wilson

Robert Freer   

Harold Race


 Arthur Wray

Fred Gibson

George Yates

The second panel commemorates six men who died during the Second World War.

Remember before God the men from Old Malton who gave their lives in the war of 1939-1945

William Boyes

 James Skelton  

Douglas Crutchley

 Ernest Spooner

Leonard Rookes

 Frank Thackray

The third panel was dedicated on Remembrance Sunday 2014, commemorating  Bertie Ward Harrison who died in the First War and Eileen Sarah Nichols who died during the Second War who were both from Old Malton, but were not commemorated on the existing War Memorial.

Whose righteousness hath not been forgotten

Soon after the war, consideration began to be given to the issue of how the village  should commemorate the war and those who had lost their lives in it.  In January 1919 a meeting was held to discuss this and the Malton Messenger of February 1st 1919 reported:

Old Malton War Memorial Scheme

A meeting was held on Thursday evening week at Old Malton to consider the question of a War Memorial for the parish and what form it should take. It was unanimously decided that the old Club Room or Reading Room dating back to 1545 should, if possible be replaced by a new one, and that, if funds allowed, there should be a room for girls as well, in the building. Collectors were appointed, who will shortly appeal to the aid and generosity of the Parishioners in raising such a sum. Mr Douglas kindly undertaking, then, to lay the matter before Earl Fitzwilliam for his consideration. It is estimated that a minimum sum of £150 should be aimed at.

On 6th July 1919, shortly after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, a  National Day of Thanksgiving for Peace was held and Old Malton hosted the Civic Service for the town of Malton.  The Messenger reported:

Thanksgiving for Peace

Sunday in the local Churches.  

The Past and the Future.

Malton and Norton, in common with other towns, on Sunday, took their share in the National day of Thanksgiving for peace. The members of the Malton Urban Council assembled at the Town Hall and marched in procession to St Mary’s Church, Old Malton. Those present included Messrs T.H. Robson, (Chairman), J. Wardill, H. Beilby, A. Wood, H. Tobey, J. Pallister, T. S. Jennings, J. W. Clarke, H. Gillespie and H. Yates, together with the Clerk, Mr. G. S. Cattle and the Surveyor Mr W. A. Jackson, and the Acting Medical Officer Dr de Mirimonde.

The prescribed form of service was used and the hymns included “Spirit of mercy, truth and love”, “Praise the Lord, ye heavens adore him” and “We love the place, O God”, while the National Anthem was rendered at the close of the service, Mr H. Turnbull presiding at the organ.

The service was conducted by the Vicar of Old Malton and Rural dean, the Rev. Wm. Ingham.

In the course of an appropriate address, the Rev. Wm. Ingham said that they were met together to thank God for bringing them safely to that day of thanksgiving for the treaty which was signed a week ago by 26 Powers and by their enemies. As far as outward matters were concerned their hope must be in the League of Nations. As soon as possible that should be a League of all nations and not of a few Allied nations but of all the earth. The hymn they had just sung “Spirit of mercy, truth and love expressed the factors that they must not be without, and they had played a large part in the awful years they had just passed through. Looking backward on the last four years of momentous strife, they might ask how had the war been won? At the root of all they had a good and righteous cause to fight for and they felt they had God’s blessing on behalf of the cause. Second they accepted the warriors of all nations who, when asked, came in their hundreds of thousands, willing to accede to the needs and necessities of their country. Many had made the supreme sacrifice for their country and they could not neglect or forget them….. They must now look forward as well as backward and take courage from the horrors of the past.

……  been brought once more to peace and their thankfulness must needs show itself in praise. Looking forward they saw at once the need of prayer, for the world had reeled and rocked beneath the blows of five years of war, and many years must go by before it recovered its balance. For the believer in God, for the Christian, that day was a day of praise and a day of prayer; praise for the past, prayer for the future. Thanksgiving could mean nothing less than that if it was to be real. True thanksgiving was as far removed as possible from mere thoughtless jollification. It is natural and right that at times we should give free vent to our feelings – no Christian had any cause to condemn honest and healthy festivity when there was some good cause for merry-making, indeed, he would join whole-heartedly in it – but thanksgiving such as they were joining in that day had a much deeper meaning, because it was addressed to God. So let them that night ask themselves how best they could make their thankfulness a living reality. What could they do in return for God’s goodness to us and to our nation. One thing he could suggest that they might all try to do – and that was to be peacemakers. Take for instance their attitude towards those who had been their enemies in this war. Their aim, as Christians – now that the Treaty of Peace had been signed – must surely be to hasten the day when goodwill shall exist between England and Germany. Of course, they must first insist upon the punishment of the guilty nation, not as an act of vindictive revenge, but as an act of stern justice and as a public example for future generations. Then they could try to be peacemakers at home. Today there is much disagreement and not a little bitterness. There were many in the country who were going about deliberately stirring up strife and ill-feeling, their avowed object being to arouse enmity between class and class. Along that line lay revolution and ruin. Then in their personal relations one with another let them live peaceably with all men – let them be peacemakers.

In the various Nonconformist places of worship in the town and district similar services were held. There were large attendances and all the services.

Planning and organising continued and on 25th October the Messenger was able to report:

Local Memorials

The following faculties have been granted in the York Consistory Court:

 … To the vicar and churchwardens of Old Malton to erect on the north wall near the west entrance a brass tablet, bearing the inscription:- “To the glory of God and in grateful memory of the men from Old Malton who laid down their lives for their country in the Great War 1914-1918” (Then will follow the list of names).

As so often happens, things took time to organise and it was not until June of 1920 that the War Memorial in the church was ready to be dedicated.  It was still well ahead of the planned Recreation Room (Old Malton Memorial Hall) which was on hold, not for lack of funding but because there was a block on all non-essential building projects until housing and industrial needs had been met.  The Messenger of 5th July 1920 reported it in full:

 Old Malton War Memorial

Unveiled by Mr E. R. Turton M.P.

Lessons of the War.

 A fair congregation assembled in the ancient church of St Mary’s, Old Malton, on Monday night, to do honour to the 32 lads of the village who laid down their lives in the war.

The occasion of the assembly was the unveiling of a handsome brass tablet surmounted with marble placed in the north wall, bearing the following inscription “To the glory of God and in grateful memory of the men from Old Malton who laid down their lives for their country in the Great War 1914-1918”

Then followed the names of the thirty-two men:-

John Arthurs , Albert Chapman, Thomas Charles, James Cockerill, Frank Creaser Robert Eden , George Ellis,  Samuel Ellis,  Walter Fox,  Robert Freer , Fred Gibson,  Sidney Greenley, Martin Harrison, Tom Hessay, Tom Hodgson,  Aaron Jemmeson,  John Johnson, Fred Kitching, James E Kitching ,  Walter Lightfoot , Harold Race , James Richardson, Charles Rickman , Walter Robinson , John Harold Rose , Harry Smith, , David Stephenson,, William Sunley, Harold Turner, Harry Wilson, Arthur Wray , George Yates.

It was originally decided to collect for the provision of this tablet, and also for that of a village club room in place of the present room which was Malton’s old grammar school. About £35 has been spent on the tablet and the sum of about £200 remains in hand for the recreation room project, which is being held up owing to the ban on luxury building.

Mr E. R. Turton, M.P., performed the unveiling ceremony.

The service which was conducted by the Rev. Wm. Ingham, Vicar and Rural dean opened with the psalm 122, followed by passages from the burial service, and the chanting of the ninetieth Psalm. The lesson, taken from Wisdom 3 verses 1-9 was read by Mr E. R. Turton, who, after prayers, and the hymn “O valiant hearts” unveiled the tablet in the following words:-

“To the glory of God, in honour of the men of this parish who have died gloriously for their country, I unveil this tablet as a mark of our gratitude to them, and a lasting witness of God’s deliverance.”

Underneath the tablet was a wreath of laurel leaves.

The dedicatory prayer was recited by the Rural dean, following which all joined in the singing of the hymn “O God our help in ages past.”

Mr Turton’s fine tribute.

Standing at the chancel steps Mr E. R. Turton, M.P., delivered an address in which he said that everyone in that church that night that service must be a sad and solemn one, and to those who were relatives of those gallant 32 men to whose memory they had just unveiled that tablet, the occasion must be inexpressibly sad, but yet he thought, whether they be relatives or fellow acquaintances, there was and must be a triumphal note that they who at the time when their country was in grave peril did not hesitate for one moment, but went to do their duty to offer the supreme sacrifice. Let them just consider for a moment why that tablet was placed in this beautiful old church. They would say it was in memory of those 32 men. Well, did they require anything in the church or anywhere else to keep the memory of those who had gone, green? Were any of them in that church likely to forget them? No, the memory of them was as green as the grass which was now growing over their graves in foreign lands. He did not think that was the primary reason for that memorial service.  Was it in order to do honour to those gallant men? Yes, of course it was. It was, however, a small thing, indeed, to put a tablet to convey some small token of their gratitude and honour by putting their names inside that church, where those names would remain for many days to come. Was not there a deeper significance in that tablet? Was it not that it might serve as an example to those who would come after them, so that in time to come when their children grew up and their children’s children grew up and asked what was the meaning of that tablet, they would receive the answer that it was put up to show how unselfish, how brave, how magnificent were the sacrifices that were made by men who felt within them the call that right should succeed, not might. Did they remember the legend of the beautiful forget-me-not? It was many years ago when one of the Crusaders came back to his betrothed and they walked alongside the river, and as they went on they saw a beautiful flower. She expressed a wish that he should take it from her, and he at once assented, and in his heavy armour was climbing down, and as he descended his horse, unfortunately slipped and fell into the river. His heavy armour held him down and it was impossible for him to swim. As he was coming up for the last time he held the small flower in his hand and looked up to her and said “forget-me-not”. Wasn’t that what those whom they were remembering were saying to them – “Forget-me-not.” Wasn’t it really what they would wish them to remember, not for themselves for what they went through for the sake of their country? He would ask them that question. Were they all honestly trying, so far as they could, to remember all that they did for them?  If they had their loved ones with them that night could they honestly say they had not forgotten all the lessons of the war? Were they not that day drifting back into that old pre-war life? Were they really trying to follow in the footsteps of those heroes in their unselfishness, in their faithfulness, in their bravery, or were they drifting back into that life that was led some years ago. He did not want to go into any instances, but what must some of those soldiers who had gone, but who were present in spirit that night, have thought could they have read the letter written by Earl Haig in which he said something like 20,000 officers who had given up everything, put their pleasure and home life to one side were asking at the present time for work, not charity? Then again, some few years ago, when the German advance was coming forward, how much they talked about the League of Nations. How much they set their hopes on the time when war should be no more. Well, today they might go still further and say they would educate everybody to look upon war as a crime equally with murder and equally with slavery. Surely, surely, they were in great danger of forgetting the lessons of the Great War. It had not been so easy except on occasions like that for people who had not lost those near and dear to them quite to realise what the war had meant. To go as he had done through the devastated regions of France and see that country with its ruined buildings, great shell holes, bits of trees and stumps, was to bring into their minds in a way no other way could possibly do it, what it had meant. Or go into one of those cemeteries in France or Flanders and see the graves of those who made the supreme sacrifice. Take even the small ones. Take the large ones beyond Rouen where some 17,000 lay of all nationalities, French, Belgians, English, New Zealanders, Australians, Canadians, each with their little cross over them. Their name liveth for evermore.  Few did those things but they needed to be reminded from time to time of the Great War and they ought not to let the presence of those men go from them. Then they had great reason to be proud of the women of their country. They had shown most worthy heroism. If it had not been for the heroism of women it would have been almost impossible for the war to have been brought to a successful issue. He would like to tell them an instance. There was a widow who had three sons. Two of them were of military age when the war broke out, and she let them both go, and in a short time both were killed. She had another son who was only 17, but when he got to military age she assented to him going out. Poor woman, she sat there, two sons being killed, and the third one was in a great action and sustained grievous injuries. When he was in hospital the nurse asked if she should write to his mother. The poor boy shook his head and sadly said “Somebody wrote to mother after the attack and told that I was killed, and it killed her.” In that spirit he thought they could and must carry on, because they had one consolation given to them. No doubt it was a long and wearying time, but they knew the time would come – that Easter morning when the graves their dead restore, father, mother, brothers and sisters meet once more.

After the address, the hymn “Jesus lives” was sung, which was followed by the blessing and the singing of the first and last verses of the National Anthem. The sounding of the last post by Messrs. Birdsall and Rollinson brought the memorable service to a close.