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The Lost First World War Memorial

From: John Hudson, Associate Member of Lincoln Branch, The Royal Lincolnshire & Royal Anglian Regimental Association.

Along with a friend, I have done some research on the two VC holders who were born in Lincoln - Leonard Keyworth and James Upton. They were both awarded their VCís in 1915, and both served in France during the First World War. James Upton survived the war but unfortunately Leonard Keyworth was killed only six months after receiving his award from King George V at Buckingham Palace.

When the Lincolnshire Echo printed the story, about our research into these gallant men, a householder from a local village (Cherry Willingham - just outside Lincoln) made contact informing us of a stone he had dug up in his garden. He had no idea what it was, but it did have several names that appeared to have been inscribed on it - one being L. Keyworth VC.

On examining the stone it was obvious that it was a war memorial dedicated to sixteen men. After getting over the initial shock at this discovery, we became very concerned that it had ended up buried in someone's garden. The newspaper published a second article for us. This resulted in a lady contacting us and identifying the stone as a memorial that was once cited in the Silver Street Methodist Church, Lincoln. She produced a photograph of it, and also informed us that one of the men named on it was her father.

The gentleman who found it couldn't help at all as to why it was in his garden. He was leaving the area in a matter weeks, so he could not do anything to help, but he did hope that it would be restored to its rightful place. The story didnít end there. Silver Street Methodist Church ceased to be an active place of worship in the early 1940s. It had been used for storage for many years, then demolished in the 1960s. How the memorial came to be buried in the garden of a house in the village of Cherry Willingham is a mystery which probably will never be solved.

The stone was stored for some time whilst I began hunting for a permanent home for the memorial. I approached three churches in the area of Monks Road, Lincoln, and found that the vicar of All Saints Church - Rev. David Edgar - was very receptive to the idea. Like me, he felt that it should once again adorn the wall of a church. The parochial church council made all the necessary approaches to the relevant authority and permission was granted for it to be erected in the church.

I made approaches to the ex-service associations in Lincoln and without hesitation they financed the restoration, most of the funds coming from the Lincoln Branch of the Royal Lincolnshire & Royal Anglian Regimental Association. The memorial was restored by a local stone mason (Draper Memorials, Newport, Lincoln).

The service of re-dedication took place on Sunday 25th November 2007, during morning service. The congregation consisted of a number of relatives and Ex-Service organisations, with eight standards on parade, including a strong contingency from the Lincolnshire Regimental Old Comrades Association. The City of Lincoln was represented by the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Ron Hills, who unveiled the memorial. The oration was given by Mr Cyril Key, the Chairman of the Lincoln Branch of The Lincolnshire and Royal Anglian Regimental Association, and a bugler from RAF Waddington played Last Post and Reveille.

Of the sixteen names on the memorial fourteen had been identified (ten serving with the Lincolnshire Regiment).