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Church and War Memorials

the church
Melchbourne Church in 2007

St Mary's Church

Only the church tower and the basic foundations remain of the mediaeval building, and a clerestory and a South Aisle was added to create a Georgian style Church. The porch is Jacobean, and was probably moved from the St. John manor at Woodford, demolished about that time, and box pews were added. The church could seat a congregation of about 250, far more than the population of the village would have been. Louisa St. John presented the organ in the 1850's. A Vicarage from the early 17th century, was replaced in Victorian times (now called Melchbourne House). Scattered farmhouses also appear to be Victorian. Melchbourne Church had its own vicar until the end of the second World War, when it was joined with Yelden. Shortly afterwards four Parishes were joined together, the other two being Dean and Shelton, and a new vicarage was built at Dean. Late in the 1970's six Parishes were combined together, Pertenhall, and Swineshead being added to complete the six Parishes of the Stodden churches.

In the Porch there is a stone to the two men of the village who died:

WWI Memorial

the men of this Parish
who fell in THE GREAT WAR


L/Cpl Arthur Hancock

Private Harry Payne

This tablet is erected by
the Parishioners as a token
of their appreciation.

Rushden Echo, 18th July 1924, transcribed by Kay Collins

The unveiling of the war memorial in the porch of the Church took place on Sunday (the day of the partronal festival). Lord St. John performed the ceremony. At the Church a service was conducted by the Rev A S Dodds, Vicar of Riseley, who delivered a very impressive address to the Boy Scouts who were present. The memorial is a tablet of white stone on black ground and bears the following inscription: “In memory of the Men of this Parish who fell in the Great War, 1914-1919; L/Cpl. Arthur Hancock, Bedfordshire Regiments. Signaller Harry Payne, Lincolnshire regiment. This tablet is erected by the parishioners as a token of their appreciation.” The stone was dedicated by the Rev A S Dodds, and the “Last Post” was sounded by two Scouts from the Rushden Troop. After the services the parade reformed, headed by the band of the Rushden Troop, and marched down the village, the visiting Scouts being entertained by the villagers to tea.

In the Church there is a WWII Memorial made from part of the propeller of an aircraft which crashed in the village on 19th August 1940. The memorial is to four men who died in that crash, and all buried were at Cardington St. Mary's Churchyard, Bedfordshire.
754664 Sergeant John Bishop
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Son of Revd. L. Cornewall & Daisy
of South Kensington, London

Aged 20 years

Died 19th August 1940

Commemorated at Cardington
Grave 15 Row R. Coll.

754172 Sergeant Stanley Britnor
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Son of Harold & Gertrude Britnor
Husband of Frances Eileen Britnor of Leeds

Aged 26 years

Died 19th August 1940

Commemorated at Cardington
Grave 15 Row R. Coll.

651960 Sergeant John Angus Jackson
W.Op/Air Gunner Royal Air Force

Son of Angus D & Margaret Jackson
of Sunderland

Aged 19 years

Died 19th August 1940

Commemorated at Cardington
Grave 15 Row R.

81356 Pilot Officer William Everby King
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

Son of Thomas William & Lilian Isabel King
of Beaconsfield

Aged 20 years

Died 19th August 1940

Commemorated at Cardington
Grave 15 Row R.

Unidentified Newsclip

Triple Honours Won by Bedfordshire Soldier
Stirring Stories of Heroism

The following N.C.O’s, who have won distinction on the Western Front, have lately joined the Ampthill Command Depot:— Sgt. A. Stringer, 2nd Bedf. Regiment, and Cpl. K W. Jones, 7th Bedf. Regt.

Sergt. Stringer has won triple honours, a distinction, which few men can claim. He joined the Army in 1909 and went overseas on October 4, 1914. He has twice won the D.C.M. and has also received the Russian Order of St. George. The first occasion on which he distinguished himself was on May 16, 1915, when the 2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment attacked and occupied the German trenches in front of Festubert. The advance was held up by the blocking of a road by tie enemy, and, "until the barricade was removed, the motor machine guns were unable to go forward. In face of a heavy fire Sergt. Stringer, with a small party of men, rushed the barricade and succeeded in removing it.

Two days later when the Battalion again went over the top Sergt. Stringer, with 10 men, reached a German trench in advance of the Battalion, and held it against heavy odds until ordered to retire. The bar to the D.C.M. was gained by this N.C.O. in Sept., 1915, at the first battle of Loos, where he led a bombing attack at night. The objective was to recapture a trench which had been taken by the enemy during the afternoon. The trench was strongly held and a fierce bombing duel ensued, the fighting being almost hand-to-hand. Foot by foot the little party fought their way forward until, after an hour's struggle, the trench was reached and taken. But, in the meantime, some of the enemy, by an encircling movement, had managed to get behind Sergt. Stringer and the survivors of his party. A retirement for about 50 yards along a communication trench therefore became necessary. By blocking the trench with sand bags, they were able to keep the enemy at bay and replenish their bombs. About 2a.m. Sergt. Stringer again advanced, re-took the trench, and successfully held it until a relieving party arrived and consolidated it.

On August 10, 1917, Corpl. E. W. Jones was with his Battalion at the attack on West Hoek Ridge. On this occasion he was employed as an orderly to the Medical Officer with the Battalion. After the ridge had been taken, the enemy made a counter attack, and the Battalion was withdrawn to some trenches behind Glencorse Wood. During the retirement casualties had taken place in the wood, which was being heavily shelled by. the enemy. On hearing this, Corpl. Jones advanced into the wood and succeeded in bringing out several of the wounded. Later on when the Medical Officer became exhausted, he took charge of the medical arrangements. In the afternoon the Battalion again advanced through the wood and re-took West Hoek Ridge. For his gallantry and good service on this occasion Corpl. Jones was awarded the Military Medal.

There is a Memorial to 2003rd Ordinance Maintenance Co. 8th Air Force Service Command on a wall at Park House, Melchbourne.

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