The Fallen
of Natland:
The Research

John Chandler was Headteacher of St Mark's School from 1985 to 2005. He has lived in Natland since 2001 and is a member of St Mark's Church Committees and a Natland Parish Councillor.

John Chandler asked John what had prompted him to undertake his research into the Fallen of Natland.

John explained:

A Remembrance Service is held at St. Mark's Church annually.  Several years ago, at this service, I offered to read out the names of those from this parish who had lost their lives as a result of the two major conflagrations of the twentieth century.  I have continued to do this but it was on the first occasion when I read the 26 names that two events occurred which prompted more interest.

Firstly, I met a couple who were tending a family grave and after conversation it was apparent that one of their ancestors, who had died in Russia, was not on the memorial and as such was not remembered.  I was asked to read out his name, at the service, which I was content to do.  This was Herbert Nixon.  

Secondly, when I read the names, in most cases I was only able to read the surname plus an initial(s). Following this I was asked the reason why the full name was not given and  my response was I did not know the whole name. This was when I was challenged to find out.   So I began.  

The first few names were fairly easy but so much research was needed on the remainder, some of whom are still presenting problems.  The time factor meant I was not able to address the research until after I retired.   

In the Second World War, sadly nine members of our community made the supreme sacrifice whereas in the First there were seventeen in this category.

Those viewing the present memorial will note that there are only six names included for the First World War, five soldiers and one who was killed on the ill fated Lusitania.  All the names included were those of local men.   

However, there are eleven others associated with the ecclesiastical parish of St. Mark's who made the supreme sacrifice.  One was the aforementioned Herbert Nixon from Oxenholme while the others had all been at St. Mark's Home at some time in their earlier lives.

While some have been moderately easy to specifically identify, others, despite intensive research, have not.   It is both the initial and continuing challenge as well as the mounting interest which provide the motivation for this project.



John with the original memorial*

The text on the original memorial on the wall of
St Mark's Church reads:

This Memorial Cross
has been erected in honour of those
gallant men of Natland who gave their lives in the Great War and whose names are inscribed below.

A Cragghill

T Elleray
Pnr RE

J Fallowfield
Pte 8th Border Regt

F Inman
Pte died

J E Inman
Sunk on Lusitania

GEH Keesey
Capt RB

1914 - 1919


The new memorial, which is mounted below the original, reads:

Also in memory of those who gave their lives from 1914 - 1920.

R Blakeman
G. Davies
J. Judson
H. Keenan
M. McGrath
H. Nixon
F.J. Paget
C.R. Spratt
L.E. Watson


The next stage of John's research is to find out more about the Fallen of the Second World War.  

They are commemorated on the stone beneath the other memorials.  

This inscription states:

The World War
1939 1945

G.W. Armer
E.S. Ferguson
J.M. Fothergill
J. Hudson
W.J. Howson
A.R. Hodsgon
J.H. Keesey
H. King
E.M.C. Maples




Equally and Collectively: The Fallen Remembered

by John Chandler

At the end of the First World War, the Great War as it was then called, various ways of acknowledging the huge sacrifice made by so many of our service personnel were inaugurated.   For the most part these took the form of a Cross in a prominent place in towns and villages, often a churchyard as in Natland.  The names of all those who made the supreme sacrifice were eligible to be included on their local memorial.  

However, this was sometimes where the problems began. Did the hero, who most probably lay in a corner of a foreign field, have his name (it usually was he) engraved on the memorial where he was born, where he grew up, where he enlisted, where his family now lived or where a local committee agreed it could appear?  

This could mean that the fallen did not have their name recorded anywhere, if the local committee did not agree, or the family had moved on.  Or sometimes the opposite could be the case that the name was recorded more than once, the record is believed to be seventeen appearances on different war memorials.

At Natland the names of six local men who died during the said period are on the
St Mark's Church War Memorial
.  These are:



John Gilbert

James Francis

John Edward

George Ernest Howard

However, there are eleven other names associated with St. Mark's Church, Natland and Oxenholme who at present are recorded on an internal board but not on the actual memorial.  These are:







Frederick James


Charles Reginald

L. E.



With the exception of Herbert Nixon, the names listed are all believed, during the pre-war period, to have been "inmates" (that is what they were called) at the Institution St. Mark's Home for Waifs and Strays.  

Gathering information on any of them has not been easy as tracing their backgrounds has been difficult.  Blakeman, Keenan, McGrath and Paget are all known or believed to be on Memorials elsewhere.  Spratt is not believed to be on any Memorial.  Davies, Hudson, Rooksby, Watson and Young either have very common names and/or cannot be specifically identified.  This is particularly true of R. Rooksby as someone certainly with this initial does not appear to have been a fatal casualty during the conflict.  Some "inmates" were sent to Canada and some were believed to have been "inmates" at a sister home in Canada.  As a consequence many will have joined the Canadian Forces.

The original memorial

The memorial cross plus plaques

St. Mark's Natland and Oxenholme Parochial Church Council has made the decision to include all these eleven names on a new Memorial treating them all equally and collectively.

If anyone has any additional information which would add to our knowledge of these young men who made the supreme sacrifice please contact St Mark's Church.      

John Chandler, November 2008


The Fallen:

Richard Blakeman

Richard was the youngest of five children born to Richard and Hannah Blakeman of Mount Road, Stone, Staffordshire.   He joined the army as 40491 Private R. Blakeman, of the 8th Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment.   He was killed on the 10th June 1917 aged 20.  Richard has no known grave.  His name is recorded on Panel 55 at the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium as well as the Stone Memorial in Staffordshire.  

Alexander Cragghill

Alexander was the youngest of seven children, born in 1899.  His parents were William and Catherine Cragghill of 19 Helmside, Oxenholme.  William and some of his children worked on the railway.   

Alexander became 91188 Private A. Cragghill of the 13th Battalion The King's (Liverpool) Regiment.  He was killed on the 28th March 1918.  His age was given as unknown but he was probably aged 19.  He has no known grave.  His name is recorded on Bay 3 of the Arras Memorial, in France, as well as the Natland Memorial.

George Davies

His history is unknown except he was a good swimmer while at "the home."   The date of his death is unknown or the whereabouts of his grave but he was almost certainly killed prior to July 1917.  There were 124 soldiers with the name George Davies killed in the First World War.

Thomas Elleray

Thomas was the only child of John and Louisa Mary Elleray (nee Shaw).   At the end of the war his parents lived at Tourist's Rest, Little Langdale, Ambleside though Thomas was born in Natland.  However, the family originally lived at Riverside Cottages, Sedgwick.   They lived with Louisa Mary's father, a powder mill keeper. John was a labourer at the powder works.

Thomas joined the Border Regiment but transferred to the Royal Engineers where he became 259620 Pioneer T. Elleray.  He was attached to the 18th Division Signal Company.  Thomas died on the 19th July 1917 aged 19 and is buried in plot 11A47 in the China Wall Perth Cemetery, Belgium and his name is also recorded on the Natland Memorial.  Following his death a Memorial Service was held in St. Mark's Church.  He was described by the Minister as someone who had grown up in our community, attended our schools, sang in our choir, been confirmed and known to everyone as a bright, happy, cheerful and light-hearted boy. Thomas had volunteered to join and his commanding officer had described him as a faithful soldier who had died at his post.

John Gilbert Fallowfield

John was the son of John and Elizabeth Fallowfield of Church View, Natland.  John was born at Old Hutton.  He was originally employed as a servant and stable boy. When joining the army he became 24208 Private J.G. Fallowfield of the 8th Battalion the Border Regiment.  John died on 23rd March 1918 aged 31 and he has no known grave.

His name is recorded on Bay 6 of the Arras Memorial in France and the Natland Memorial.

J. Hudson

There were 123 J. Hudson's killed in the First World War and 40 had just the initial J.
Consequently for the present it is not possible to specifically identify him.

James Francis Inman

James Francis known as Frank was born in Natland the youngest of six children.  He was born in 1900 and baptised on 30th September1900.  His parents were William Jackson and Isabella Margaret Inman of Church View, Natland. They formerly lived at Powder Works Cottage.  William was a stoker at the Gunpowder Works.  Frank joined the army towards the end of the war on the 24th September 1918 as 87309 Private J.F. Inman in the  53rd Battalion the Manchester Regiment.   He was discharged on the 29th October 1919 as a result of wounds or sickness.  Frank died on the 28th August 1920 aged 19.  He is buried in St. Mark's Churchyard, Natland a Commonwealth War Grave and is also recorded on the Natland Memorial.  There is only one reference in St. Mark's School log book to former pupils who lost their lives in the period of the First World War and it is to James Francis Inman.  When he was buried the children at School (it was next door to the Church then) stood in silence round the School flagpole where the Union Flag flew at half-mast.

John Edward Inman

John Edward was born in Natland, the second child of William and Isabella and older brother of James Francis.  John was to be a passenger on the ill-fated Lusitania.

On the 26th April 1913 the Cunard ship Caronia left Liverpool for New York.  On board was John E Inman, aged 24, a blacksmith by trade.  On the 7th May 1915 the S.S. Lusitania inbound from New York was torpedoed with severe loss of life including that of third class passenger Mr. John Edward Inman aged 26.  His name is recorded on the Natland Memorial.

Henry Keenan

There were 4 H. Keenan's killed in WW1. The one at St. Mark's Home is believed to have come from Liverpool.  He was Henry or Harry and is believed to have worked as a farm labourer and/or servant at Broughton -in-Furness.  He died on 23rd February 1919 and is buried at Mexborough.  In the same grave is his brother James.

George Ernest Howard Keesey

George was the eldest of two sons born to the Reverend George Walter and Mrs. Annie Keesey.  The Keesey family came to Natland from Newington where Reverend George had been a Congregational Minister.  G.E.H. was educated at St. Olaves School where he was School Captain and at Downing College, Cambridge where he gained a B.A. in Natural Sciences with first class honours and later an M.A.   He taught at Kendal Grammar School for three years and afterwards at Wellington College as Science Master.  He held a commission in the Officer Training Corps and began active service in October 1914 as a Lieutenant and promoted to Captain in September 1915.  Earlier that year he had been slightly wounded but returned as a company commander the best in the battalion according to the Colonel of the Unit.  Captain G.E.H. Keesey of the 8th Battalion The Rifle Brigade died on the 24th August 1916 aged 30.  He led his company on an operation and he and his batman were found in a trench apparently killed instantly by an exploding shell.  He is buried in grave XXV.L.8 at Serre Road Cemetery No. 2 on the Somme.   He was married to Violet Marian and at the time of his death had a one-year-old son who was to die in the Second World War.  George Ernest Howard Keesey's name is also recorded on the Natland Memorial.

Michael McGrath

Michael is believed to come from Liverpool.  For an unknown period Michael lived in Burton.   At some stage he moved to Natland and became a farm labourer for the Bindloss family at Higher House Farm.  Michael joined the army as 30414 Private Michael McGrath of the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) and died on the 8th November 1918 aged 23.   He is buried in St. Mark's Churchyard, Natland but his name is recorded on the Memorial at Burton.

Herbert Nixon

Herbert Nixon came from Oxenholme and died (along with many other British soldiers) in Southern Russia.    Herbert a railwayman came from a railway family.  Prior to living at 24 Helmside, Oxenholme the Nixons came from Burton.  Herbert born in 1893 was the eldest of two sons born to Thomas and Elizabeth Nixon.  In July 1917 Herbert married Helen and a year later on 15th October 1918 a daughter Marian was born.  Three weeks later Helen died and subsequently Marian was brought up by her Mum's sister.  Herbert joined the army and became ES/58659 Private Herbert Nixon of the RASC Motor Transport Unit.  He died from typhoid on the 25th January 1920   His grave along with 35 others has long since been lost and consequently his name is recorded on the Haidar Pasha Memorial in Turkey but not on the Memorial in Natland.  His family had asked for his name to be included on the Natland and Oxenholme War Memorial but allegedly the aforementioned committee declined to include him.  This was rectified with the unveiling of the additional plaque on Sunday 9th November 2008.    

Frederick James Paget

Frederick was born in 1895 the second of three children born to Frederick and Isabella Paget.  After being born in Burton-on-Trent and living in Birmingham Frederick James and his family settled in Barrow at 104 Greengate Street.   Second Lieutenant F J Paget served with 206 Squadron of the Royal Air Force Regiment and died on the 6th August 1918 aged 23.   Frederick is buried at St. Omer in grave V.D.34 of the Longuenesse Souvenir Cemetery and his name is recorded on a Barrow War Memorial.   The inscription on his grave says:

A glorious death is his,
Who for his country dies. 

R. Rooksby

This name is an enigma.  There is no recorded death in the First World War of a serviceman with this name.  Like some other pupils young Rooksby may have been sent to Canada.  Whether he joined a British or Canadian unit, there is no recorded death with this initial.   The internal board of St. Mark's Church indicates R. Rooksby as a Corporal. There was an acting Corporal Richard Rooksby but he appears to have survived the war.

The surname Rooksby is very much one that is associated with Northamptonshire where in fact nearly all with this name lived a hundred or more years ago.  There was one exception to this as in 1891 a Rooksby family lived in Kendal though of course the father and mother had married in Northamptonshire.  Edward was a cabinetmaker and the family presumably travelled for his work as every one of their children was born in a different town.  There were in fact six children and by 1901 two had joined another family as step children, though not with either of their parents, one had sailed to South Africa, one was "an inmate" in Gordon Boy's Home, Surrey while another (James) William was in St. Mark's.  In 1906 Jas W Rooksby at the age of 17 and travelling on a joint ticket with Percy Dew (who was also at St Mark's) sailed from Liverpool to Montreal on the Virginian.

William James (Christian names reverse   d) Rooksby joined the Canadian Army on 15th September 1916 and died as 1057045 Private William James Rooksby on 30th September 1918.   His age was given as unknown but he must have been 30 having been born on the 29th June 1888.  JW states he was born not in Manchester as indeed he was but gave the Canadian authorities Kendal as his birthplace.  The name of his wife is given as Matilda.   On the internal board within St. Mark's there are two Rooksbys and it would appear that the wrong one has been identified as having made the supreme sacrifice.

Charles Reginald Spratt

Charles was the second of two sons born to William and Maud Spratt of 52 London Avenue, North End, Portsmouth.  William died in 1910 and Maud remarried in 1912 and is then believed to have moved away from Portsmouth.  Charles joined the army as 32671 Private C R Spratt of the 9th Battalion the South Staffordshire Regiment.  Charles died on the 1st December 1918 aged 20.  He is buried in grave 7, row B, plot 3 at the Giavera British Cemetery, Arcade, Northern Italy.   Until now his name is not believed to have been included on any War Memorial.

L. E. Watson

No other details are available other than he was almost certainly killed prior to July 1917.

T. Young

There were 104 T. Young's killed in WW1 with 33 just given as T. Young.  
Identification of the T. Young associated with Natland is probably impossible.


The new plaque has been made by Coopers Engraving of Stavely Mill Yard.

Photograph of *John Chandler with the original memoria details of theirl reproduced by kind permission of the Westmorland Gazette.

The images of regimental badges are carved on the headstones within Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetries. They have been taken, with kind permission,
from the website
, a site of remembrance and a comprehensive guide to the military cemeteries and memorials of Belgium, France, Great Britain and throughout the world. 


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