Scunthorpe war memorial uncovered after 50 years

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A First World War memorial that had been stored for 50 years at Scunthorpe’s Old Brumby United Church (formerly St Mark’s Methodist Church) is to be rededicated on 3 March.

Website This is Scunthorpe reports that relatives of any of those named on the tablet are welcome to attend the service.

Among those commemorated on the memorial is Major George Henry Stampe of 24th Battalion the Machine Gun Corps.

Major Stampe was killed on 27 March 1918 during the German offensive Operation Michael and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial.

The 24th Battalion MGC was formed on 5 March 1918 and was attached to the 24th Division in the Fifth Army. The unit was in action for the period between 21 and 27 March and it is likely Major Stampe was its second in command.

At this stage the British defensive line was crumbling and units of the MGC were often attempting to hold back the attacking German forces to give the infantry battalions an opportunity to retreat.

One member of the 24th Machine Gun Battalion, Private F Plimmer, is quoted in Martin Middlebrook’s The Kaiser’s Battle. He was talking about the action on 21 March, the first day of the Spring Offensive, but his experience may well have been shared by Major Stampe.

‘Over the top of the ridge on our left came the first of the enemy. Not one, or two, or even a small detachment, but a whole line in extended order right across the whole of the ridge. The line of infantry advanced at a walking pace in fairly good order.

‘Then, at an interval of about 20 yards, a second wave appeared, and they kept on coming over the top of the ridge until we had the spectacle of several waves of German infantry advancing in extended order down the slope to Jeancourt. They were very tidy, just as though they were coming down Richmond Hill on parade.’

A total of 170,500 officers and men served in the MGC, of whom 62,049 were killed, wounded or reported missing. The high level of losses earned it the nickname The Suicide Club.

The Pozières Memorial includes the names of more than 500 MGC soldiers who were killed between March and August 1918.

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