Over 95 years after his death, Swindon soldier Herbert Marfleet now has a Commonwealth War Graves headstone placed on his grave at Radnor Street Cemetery which will be officially unveiled on Sunday, writes Frances Bevan.
The campaign to have Herbert’s grave recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission began in 2011, led by military historian Mark Sutton. He said: “Bert’s details were added to the CWGC website sometime ago, but it has taken over three years to get the headstone put in place.”
The headstone is one of a batch engraved at the CWGC workshops in France as part of a programme to provide headstone’s for war veterans who have not been recognised, or where they need to be renewed.
Herbert Frederick Marfleet was born in the Punjab, the son of another serving soldier, Benjamin Marfleet, a sergeant in the 2nd Dragoon Guards. Following Benjamin’s discharge from the army in 1897 the family returned to Swindon and a home at 2, Morrison Street, Rodbourne.
Benjamin worked as a Railway Shop Clerk in the GWR Works and on leaving school Herbert followed his father into the railway factory as an apprentice coach finisher.
In 1915 Herbert joined the Royal Army Service Corps serving first in Egypt and then in Salonika. He returned briefly to Swindon in 1918 where he married Elsie Morse – pictured above – in a double wedding with her sister Agnes and Hooper Gates, a Canadian soldier serving in the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Immediately after the wedding Herbert rejoined his regiment in Salonika where he contracted malaria.
He was discharged from the army and come home to Swindon in the Spring of 1919 where he died just a few weeks later.
As Herbert’s death was a direct result of his army service, Mark, author of Tell Them of Us, was convinced that he was entitled to recognition by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and an official headstone. The official application process began in May 2011.
Herbert is buried with his uncle and aunt, Edward Johnson and Matilda Hammett, in a grave on the perimeter of the cemetery and Mark had feared it may have been lost during land slippage some years ago. However the grave was surveyed by the CWGC in 2011 and since then Mark has been waiting for the headstone to be delivered.
A rededication ceremony take place on Sunday 14 June, 2pm. where guest of honour will be Herbert’s goddaughter, 98 year old Joyce Murgatroyd, his only known living relative. Joyce, pictured, will lay a wreath at the new headstone.
The day commences at 11am. Find out more at www.swindonheritage.com