In Mesopotamia

Eleven British and Commonwealth soldiers buried in Amara War Cemetery, in what is now Iraq, died on this day in 1916. One was Gunner Albert STONEHOUSE, born in Filey in 1883, the fifth of Abraham Waugh Stonehouse and Alice SKELTON’s ten children. He was 32 years old when he succumbed to heatstroke while serving with the Royal Field Artillery, fighting the Turkish Army in Mesopotamia. His unit, 14th Battery, 4th Brigade, was under the command of the  7th Meerut Division of the Indian Army.

In peacetime, Albert had worked in the family business, as a carriage proprietor. He married Elizabeth GASH in 1907 and they saw four children into the world. Their only son, also Albert Charles, would serve as a Navy gunner in the Second World War and be killed in 1942. Two of his uncles, David and Edward GASH, died in the Great War.

The Amara Cemetery was desecrated during the illegal wars that followed 9/11 and only the brave actions of the Cemetery caretaker prevented total destruction of the place. I have plotted the approximate location of Albert’s grave on the 2012 Google Earth satellite image (Source: CWGC).

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Albert was remembered on the GASH family grave in St Oswald’s churchyard, on an additional stone that has now disappeared. The discrepancy between his age at death, 32 calculated from his birth registration and 30 on the missing stone transcription (and in the CWGC Index), can’t be resolved.

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Also of Gunner ALBERT C. STONEHOUSE R.F.A., killed in the Great War Jun 19 1916, aged 30.

Albert is on the FamilySearch Tree and several people have been making contributions to his pedigree in the last few years.

Albert is a nephew of Samuel Stonehouse who killed his wife Maria in 1894. (Some duplicate records need to be merged for this relationship to appear clearly on FST).

A Very Special Lady

There are hundreds of small memorial plaques scattered around Filey. If they were all transcribed and digitized they would make up a database of people, visitors mostly, who loved the town. If their native places were to be found, an interesting distribution map might be drawn, showing Filey’s “hinterland of attraction”.

The first plaque I noticed on my morning walk today gently asked me to remember Margery Joan RABJOHN.

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I was taken initially by her year of birth. She shares 1926 with the scum of the earth I wrote about yesterday so her specialness was a welcome restorative (of faith in human nature). Her family has chosen the Parish Wood as a place of remembrance.

With such an unusual name, I thought it would be easy to find Margery and her forebears.

A quick online search failed to turn up a “meaning” for the name. Ancestry’s 1891 distribution map showed an absence of Rabjohns in Yorkshire but another site remarked that there are still a lot of them living in South Yorkshire.

Margery was born a DEAR, to Thomas and his wife Dorothy M. CARTHEW in Hitchin, Hertfordshire. I struggled to find her DEAR forebears so turned to her husband, Ronald. He was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire!, in 1924 to Percy and Minnie RABJOHN. Yes, Minnie was born a Rabjohn. I haven’t put my findings in a family tree program but, despite the rarity of the name, I would expect this couple not to be related by blood.

Percy’s parents were William RABJOHN and Eliza Ann EYRE, who married in Sheffield in 1869.

Minnie’s parents were George Charles RABJOHN and Sarah NORTON, who also married in Sheffield but later, in 1882.

At the start of the Second World War Ronald was approaching his fifteenth birthday and working as a Gas Fitter’s apprentice. His father, Percy, had spent some time in the Navy but in 1939 was doing heavy work as a Boiler Fireman. The family was enumerated at 231 Crookesmoore Road, Sheffield.

I found some sources for these Rabjohns on FamilySearch but none had a hoped-for “tree symbol” attached. One should not give up hope in such circumstances. FamilySearch has a quirky way of hiding people. Well, it is more likely that the failing, if it can be called such, is with the searcher’s methodology. When I approached from a different direction I found George Charles straight away on the tree – as Charles George RabJohn.

I spent some time looking in newspaper archives for Margery Joan without success. I’m sure she WAS very special, but perhaps in a low key way, to a select group of friends and family. There is, of course, every chance that she left a considerable mark that my amateurish search failed to uncover. Whatever, I enjoyed my time today with this stranger met by chance in a Filey wood.

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