Clandon and the cost of war

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Despite the dedication of the Clandon Park Hospital staff, inevitably some patients succumbed to their injuries. Where possible, they were sent home to be buried. When this wasn’t possible they were buried in our local village of West Clandon.

The first to be buried locally were two Belgian soldiers from the initial intake of 101. The funeral of Armand Braucard was an impressive event. Many of the wounded from the hospital followed the coffin, some supported by villagers. A bearer party was provided by the Royal Surrey Regiment, and the local Stoughton Band played. The Earl of Onslow walked at the end of the procession in his uniform as Deputy County Lieutenant. In addition to the two Belgian soldiers, eight British, one Canadian and one Australian, were buried in the cemetery.

The hospital memorial

In June 1915 a Celtic cross given by Lord and Lady Onslow, was placed in the cemetery to record the names of those that died in the hospital. The individual graves are now marked by Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstones. Nine other British soldiers have their names inscribed on the cross but are interred elsewhere and a civilian accountant who worked at the hospital is included. Inside the church, there is a memorial panel dedicated to eight members of the wider Onslow family who fell during the war.

The village memorial

Villagers felt the war dead of West Clandon should also be honoured. On June 23 1917, the Bishop of Guildford dedicated a shrine in the east corner of the churchyard.

There are sixteen names on the West Clandon war memorial, of men from the village who lost their lives in conflict. Some were very young such as Alfred Knight, 18, and the brothers Charles and Alfred Savage, both 19. Others had considerable military experience. Walter Stevens had served for 15 years with the Royal Field Artillery including seven in India. He died aged 37, leaving a widow and three children.

Many of these men worked locally. Frederick Squibb and Frederick Jordan had been gardeners at Clandon Park. Sergeant Simpson was a chauffeur in Dorking, Walter Stevens worked as a builder in Guildford. Reginald Blake had left the area and become a teacher but retained close links with the village, his father was head gardener at Clandon. Extremely tall at 6ft 7in, he was of course known to his comrades as ‘Tiny’. Like Charles and Alfred Savage, he was a bell-ringer in the parish church. All three are commemorated on the memorial in the belfry of Guildford Cathedral.

In his address at the dedication of the war shrine the Bishop said, 'We want to do them honour by raising a real memorial so that passers-by in generations to come may know what we feel about them'.