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Bolsterstone church and war memorial dra
War memorial by Sheldon.jpg

Main photo - a drawing of Bolsterstone St. Mary's church and the war memorial - artist unknown.


Four months after the end of the Great War, in March 1919, a meeting was held in the National School at Bolsterstone to discuss the question of a War Memorial for the village.  Three suggestions were put forward: a stained glass window in the Church, a cross in the Churchyard, and a recreation field.  With each of these was the proposition of a tablet in the Church, bearing the names of the fallen.  Opinion was evenly divided, and another meeting was fixed for later that month, which was attended by around fifty people; the stained glass window idea had been dropped and in its place was a proposal for a square block of stone with a soldier on the top to be erected in the centre of the village.  After a thorough discussion it was decided by a large majority that the memorial should take the form of a large cross in the churchyard, made of Aberdeen granite [it was eventually made with Bolton Wood stone, a fine-grained Yorkshire sandstone].  The Vicar, the Rev. F. M. Brookes, was appointed chairman, with Mr. H. Steel as treasurer and Mr. F. Turner as secretary, together with a committee of nine, to consider the best means of carrying it out, and to ascertain the cost.


Within a year this had been accomplished, and it was noted at the time that the Stocksbridge War Memorial Committee were still discussing their memorial.  One local newspaper printed an article in August 1921 entitled, “War Memorial: To be or not to be?” and said that the residents of the district who had subscribed towards a public War Memorial for Stocksbridge and District were seriously considering whether some of them would live long enough to see it being built.  The proposed clock tower was still far away, owing, it was said, to the “apathetic attitude” shown by a great many people towards the project.  The article pointed out that nearly all the nearby villages and hamlets had already erected their own memorials.  In fact, the foundation stone of the Stocksbridge Clock Tower wasn’t laid until the 14th July 1923. 


David Brearley & Sons Ltd. was chosen for the Bolsterstone memorial.  Two of his sons had fought in France, Archie and David Ivor, but sadly Ivor did not return.  David also made a white marble memorial tablet, which is in Deepcar church, commemorating Anthony Button, who was killed at the battle of Loos on the 26th September 1915.  It was paid for by Anthony’s fellow choir members and unveiled in June 1917, a month after David’s son Ivor had been killed.  Sadly David Brearley died on the 28th March 1920 before he could oversee the siting of his cross the following month.    


The cross was erected just within the churchyard to the right of the lych gate.  Part of the Churchyard wall was taken down and iron railings set up so that it could be seen from the road.  It cost £300, and the money was raised by public subscription.  The cross is Saxon in style and stands 16’ 6” high.  The base consists of four super-imposed blocks of stone, on which are inscribed the names of the local men who lost their lives in the fighting.  Names have since been added from later conflicts.  The memorial was unveiled on Sunday 16th May by Mr. R. H. R. Rimington Wilson and a large crown numbering 1,200 to 1,300 people attended.  The “Last Post” was sounded on the bugle by Mr. H. West and the dedication was performed by the Bishop of Sheffield. 


At the memorial service in 1926 the service was preached by the Bishop of Sheffield and the congregation included members of the local branches of the British Legion, Stocksbridge Fire Brigade, the Ambulance Brigade, R.A.O.B., [Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes], the Oddfellows, and other Friendly Society organisations, who marched to Bolsterstone headed by the Stocksbridge Prize Brass Band.  Major H. McIntyre read the Roll of Honour, and wreaths were placed upon the war memorial by Mr. Ben Wood, who had lost a leg in the war, and Master J. France, aged ten years, whose father was the first local man to fall – he was killed on the 29th October 1914, three months after the outbreak of the war.  The cross remains the focal point for the two minutes’ silence.

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Bolsterstone War Memorial Dedication 1920. This is a mounted photograph and service sheet kindly sent to me by Andrew Ward.  It had belonged to his mother. 


Mr. David Brearley, who made the Cross memorial, was the captain of the Bolsterstone Parish Church ringers and had been ever since the bells were put up in 1892.  David and his wife Elizabeth lived at “Lyndene” in Deepcar.  Three of their sons were also bell ringers; Archie, John Redfearn and David Ivor.  Archie was recorded as a monumental mason on the 1911 census. 


Private David Ivor Brearley of the 2nd/4th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment died on the 14th May 1917.  In February 1919 he was remembered at a memorial service for bell ringers who had died in the War, which was held at Sheffield Cathedral.  The service was led by the Archdeacon of Sheffield, the Bishop being in London leading a national memorial service at St. Clement’s Church in the Strand.  Many ringers attended the Cathedral to pay tribute to ten of their fallen comrades. 


David senior died before he could see his Cross erected.  His funeral was attended by many ringers from  Sheffield, Chesterfield, Bradfield and other places, and they rang a muffled peal before and after the service.  They also rang hand-bells at the graveside.  As well as being a builder and bellringer, David was also a sidesman at the Church and had been a member of the Stocksbridge Urban District Council for 22 years.  


Archie Brearley died on the 27th March 1929 aged just 45.  He had been a member of the Bolsterstone Church team of bellringers for about 30 years and had taken part in many contests and change ringing throughout the country.  He had rung a total of 98 peals but sadly he did not reach his ambition of a century.

arrival of the bells at Deepcar with names from Kenworthys Bolsterstone Handbook p61_edite

David Brearley was amongst the men pictured here, members of the committee who were responsible for collecting the funds for the bells (as a memorial to the Rev. John Bell).  The men are pictured at Deepcar Station before the bells were taken to Bolsterstone, 28th May 1892. 

From Joseph Kenworthy, The Early History of Stocksbridge & District: Handbook 15: Bolsterstone, page 61.

Bells arrive at Bolsterstone Church 28 May 1892.jpg

The bells arrive at Bolsterstone 28th May 1892

Peace Day bell ringers Sally Jowitt.jpg

A tablet in the church for a peal rung in the celebration of Peace: Ring out the false, Ring in the true.  The Yorkshire Association of Change Ringers

On Saturday, July 19th 1919, was rung in this tower a Peal of College Single Major, 5136 changes in 3 hours and 3 minutes, by the following members of the above Society.

Leonard Shaw, Treble

Albert Helliwell, 2

Gnr. S. Harrison R.G.A., 3

Pte. A. Brearley R.E., 4

John R. Brearley, 5

J. H. Charlesworth, 6

David Brearley, 7

William Harrison, Tenor

Composed by George Hill, Conducted by David Brearley.  This Peal was rung on the celebration of Peace after the Great War, and this tablet is placed here to commemorate it.

And also as a memoriam of David Brearley who died March 28th 1920.  He was the Captain of the ringers of this tower ever since the bells were hung, and his patience and kindness in teaching the difficult art of which he was a master, will ever be remembered by them with respect and gratitude.

Rev. F. M. Brookes, Vicar; H. Steel and R. T. Wilson, Churchwardens.

Note: Archie Brearley and John Redfearn Brearley were the sons of David Brearley.

Photo credit: Sally Jowitt

The Front of the Memorial

The Great War 1914-1918

To the Glory of God and in proud and loving memory of the men of this parish who made the supreme sacrifice for their King and Country.

“The men were very good unto us, and we were not hurt … they were a wall unto us both by night and day.”  I Sam. XXV. V.15.16.

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Right side of the Memorial

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Left side of the Memorial

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The Back of the Memorial

Remember all killed in later conflicts and here especially

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The names and dates on the memorial have been cross-referenced with the details held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.  Where there is a difference, this has been noted.  I used Michael Parker's book "Poppy People" as reference as well as research I had already carried out on the other local memorials.  I am pleased to say that I have been able to find local connections to the men who other researchers had not been able to identify and added ages, full names and service numbers where they were missing.  There are many more available records online now, and I note that the CWGC has amended some of its previous information.  By necessity I can only write a short paragraph about each man, but hopefully I will add to the database I have been compiling over the past few years.  

Sources include: service records, pension records, census returns, electoral registers, parish registers, local newspapers, medal cards, CWGC, and Soldiers Died in the Great War.


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War Memorial

Commemorating the fallen from the Great War (1914-1918), World War II (1939-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953) and Afghanistan (2001)

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Lieutenant Commander Charles Hugh Cobbe
Royal Navy - H.M.S. Repulse

Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve died 10 December 1941 aged 34

Son of Captain Mervyn Cobbe, R.N. and Maude nee Arbuthnot, husband of Enid Margaret nee Wilson of Bolsterstone.
Commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, Devon
HMS Repulse, along with HMS Prince of Wales, was sunk by Japanese aircraft while on a mission to try to prevent the landings in Malaya


Gunner Frank Samuel Dawson 1432917
Royal Artillery - 28 Battery 13th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment
Died 16 May 1941 aged 24
Commemorated on the Alamein Memorial, Egypt

Private Joseph Wainwright 2824383
2nd Battalion Seaforth Highlanders
Died 6 April 1943 aged 24
Son of Ernest and May Wainwright of Bolsterstone
​Died in the final weeks of the Tunisia campaign and was buried at Sfax War Cemetery, Tunisia
Personal Inscription on his War Grave: A Loving Son And Brother One Of The Best Grant Him O Lord Eternal Rest


Fusilier Donald Broadhead 19047035

Royal Northumberland Fusiliers

Born 21st June 1927, killed in Korea 7th October 1951 aged 24.

Buried at United Nation Memorial Cemetery Pusan Korea

Fusilier Broadhead was killed-in-action north of the Imjin River during the first battle of Operation Commando (3rd-8th October 1951). The R.N.F. attacked Hill 317 on the 5th & 6th October. Broadhead died of his wounds on the 7th October 1951. The R.N.F. were attached to the 29th Infantry Brigade, arriving in Korea in December 1950 and leaving during October 1951.

Information and photographs of medals UlricofEnfland

More information on the Collection of Medals formed by Bill and Angela Strong (Dix, Noonan Webb 2011) [auctioneers] here

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Marine David John Marsh PO60750E

40 Commando Royal Marines

Died 30th March 2008 aged 23.

Buried St Marys churchyard, Bolsterstone

Killed in action along with Lieutenant John Thornton 30th March 2008 aged 23

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Click on the photographs for more information

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