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Quorn WW1 Roll of Honour - Bertie James Shenton

Died 3rd August 1916, aged 19
Ovillers near Albert, France

Early years

Bertie Shenton was the youngest son of Thomas and Ada Shenton of Gordon Villa, 6 Barrow Road, Quorn. Thomas and Ada had come to Quorn from Leicester, shortly after their marriage in 1888, and Thomas worked at Wright’s factory in the village. Thomas became a well-known figure in the community, he was a member of Quorn Urban District Council and when war broke out he was the chairman of many of the tribunals for exemption from war service. A photograph of the Shenton family (including Bertie) can be seen at Artefact 1781.

Early in 1915 Bertie’s mother’s health began to fail, and she died in June of that year aged 49, when Bertie’s youngest sister Lillian was only 13 years old.

Army service
After his mother’s death and a short time after leaving Rawlins Grammar School, Bertie joined the Royal Fusiliers. He had only completed fourteen weeks service when he was killed in action on the Western Front, aged just 19. His body was never recovered and his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial in France.

A memorial service was held in Quorn Church on Saturday afternoon 28th October 1916, for Bertie, together with three other young village casualties, John Peer Flanders, E. Arthur Benskin and James Hollingsworth. The service was described in the press as ‘very impressive’ and the vicar, the Rev Henry Rumsey, paid tribute to the men, saying they were well-known and highly respected in the village. After singing ‘Fight the Good Fight’, the service ended and buglers from the Mountsorrel Scout Troop sounded the last post. In the evening, a muffled peal was rung on the bells.

How can important memorials of a sacrificed young life be discarded?
In the 1970s a lady was shopping at a bric-a-brac stall in Melton Mowbray and something caught her eye. She asked how much it was, and the man said to her: “the old teapot stand me duck, it's £2”, and then he stood a teapot on it and said “If you want the teapot as well that’s 75p”.

A teapot stand - do you laugh or cry? The item was Bertie Shenton’s memorial plaque. These were given to the family of every soldier who died, and this one had been mounted in a carefully carved frame. The people who bought the plaque have ensured that Bertie has the respect he deserves and will not be forgotten.

It sometimes seems hard to imagine how items like medals and memorial plaques, that were once such precious mementoes of loved family members, can end up for sale, or even disposed of with casual indifference. One reason is that many of the men that died were too young to have formed permanent relationships and to have married, so like Bertie they had no completely direct descendants. They had no sons, no daughters, no grandchildren, no great grandchildren – they were never someone’s father, grandfather or great grandfather – they were just a cousin, an uncle or a great uncle to the next generations, and someone that died long ago and was probably not even talked about.

1) A newspaper photograph of Bertie Shenton.
2) Bertie Shenton’s memorial plaque, bought on Melton market.
3) A modern photograph of the Shenton family home, Gordon Villa, 6 Barrow Road.
4) Thomas and Ada Shenton’s grave in Quorn St Bartholomew’s graveyard, with an ‘in memoriam’ tribute to Bertie.

 view larger image
 missing information Missing information: Can anyone provide a better photograph of Bertie Shenton?
Please email us at: team2020@quornmuseum.com
 Submitted on: 2020-01-12
 Submitted by: Sue Templeman with many thanks to David Bland and Mike Speight
 Artefact ID: 2285
 Print: View artefact in printer-friendly page or just on its own.

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