Plaque to First World War soldier re-dedicated at Malvern Wells Cemetery Chapel - The Malvern Observer

Plaque to First World War soldier re-dedicated at Malvern Wells Cemetery Chapel

Malvern Editorial 4th May, 2023   0

A GROUP of 24 Worcestershire residents and representatives from 214 Battery (Worcestershire) Royal Artillery gathered at Malvern Wells Cemetery Chapel for the rededication of a plaque to a soldier killed in the First World War.

Lt Arthur Galbraith, who served in the Royal Garrison Artillery, lost his life near Ypres on September 9, 1918. Rev Geoff Vevers, from the Church of St Andrews and All Saints Church, led the poignant ceremony.

Late last year, Army veterans Steve Healy and Tim Kidwell, along with cemetery warden Steve Maude, discovered the plaque, stored with others, in the Cemetery Chapel cellar.

It had been removed from St Peter’s, 300m up the road, when the church was de-consecrated in 1994.

With permission from the parish council and the cemetery manager, Michelle Alexander, the plaque was recovered and restored by West Malvern resident, John Pole, to an excellent standard. The team mounted the plaque in the chapel last month.

Lt Arthur Galbraith

Arthur Hugh Courtney Galbraith was born on July 22, 1897, in an area of India (now part of Pakistan). He was the son of Mjr General Sir William Galbraith KCB and Lady Helen Mary Galbraith.

In 1901 the family had returned to the UK soon moved to Lutwyche (a house which is now 3 to 3A Grundy’s Lane), Malvern Wells.

With the First World War raging, Arthur joined up and passed out of the Woolwich Military Academy in May 1916.

He landed in France on November 5, 1917, serving as an officer with the 284th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.

During July 1918, as part of the British counter-offensive which would end the war, Arthur and his Battery moved to an area around Ypres in Belgium and there followed a week of gas artillery bombardments on both sides.

The Brigade War Diary records for the night of August 30/31 that there was a gas attack on 284 Siege Battery at Froidmont near the town of Nesle. The officers’ mess was at the centre of the concentration, and eight officers were immediately, badly gassed. Ten officers and 44 soldiers died of wounds.

One of his brother officers said: “284 siege battery were very unlucky.

“Their officers’ quarters were smashed-in one night by a gas shell, and unfortunately all the officers were so near as to become casualties. Lt Galbraith, was among the unfortunate ones. He died a few days later from the effect of gas poisoning – a braver or more cheery soul one could not possibly have wished to meet.”

Arthur Galbraith died from gas poisoning on September 9, 1918, at a base hospital in Rouen. He is buried in France at the St Sever Cemetery Extension near Rouen.

This plaque was most likely to have been commissioned by his mother and younger brother, Ian.


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