Great War burials usually conjure up images of some corner of a foreign field that is forever England. More prosaically, many WWI servicemen came home to die and were buried streets away from where they were born. Although there are Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones in cemeteries across the U.K., the identities of those engraved are often unknown a hundred years later, especially if their names are not shown on the local war memorial. Radcliffe on Trent cemetery is unusual in having more CWGC graves than neighbouring Nottinghamshire villages. Bingham, for instance has four, Burton Joyce has two and West Bridgford has one grave (see www.cwgc.org). Radcliffe has twelve graves displaying the same CWGC headstones as those found in CWGC cemeteries abroad. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintain these headstones and visit the cemetery to ensure they are kept in a good condition. The cemetery has two family graves in which local servicemen are interred. There are also two graves, now grassed over, for servicemen who died in the village and a headstone for a serviceman who died in France. A further three men, Robert Hallam, John Nowell and Bertie Todd, who were all killed in action in France, are remembered on family graves.
Radcliffe’s sixteen WWI graves are scattered around the grounds (one grave is a double one). Why were these people buried in the village and not in theatres of war? Our research shows most of them served on the Western Front and came home unwell. Some served in the U.K. where they became fatally ill.
The farthest end of the cemetery is dedicated to patients who died at Notts. County War Hospital, a temporary hospital based in Notts County Asylum, which is often referred to as Saxondale hospital. Twenty-nine military patients died when the war hospital was open between July 1918 and August 1919. A commemorative headstone at this end of the cemetery reads: ‘In memory of the patients who died at the Notts. County War Hospital 1918–1919’. Radcliffe on Trent Local History Society has confirmed that it is a memorial and does not mark the site of unnamed graves. The headstone was paid for by Notts County Asylum authorities from the residue of money collected for the ‘comforts for soldiers’ fund during the time the asylum operated as a war hospital. Eighteen patients who died at the hospital and are buried in their home towns have been identified.
Patients commemorated in Radcliffe cemetery who died at Notts County War Hospital:
Frederick Bennett, Bernard Clarke, Frederick Cowley, William Donkin, William Foley, Joseph Gleave, Albert Lydiate, Clarence Mifflin, Charles Moody, Arthur Orchard, Rhoderick Parkin, Harold Parry, Herbert Robinson, Robert Robinson, Albert Simmonds, Alfred Wild, John Williams and Frederick Woon.
A further five of the twenty-nine patients were interred in Radcliffe cemetery and have CWGC headstones: Bernard Fitzgerald, Herbert Maddock, Edward Hoppe, Clement Sage and Harry Smith (Fitzgerald and Smith share a headstone).