Fitting tribute to First World War heroes

Warrant Officer Olly Roberts lays the wreath at the grave of Gunner H Whitfield, while Eric Turnbull recites the names of the fallen.
Warrant Officer Olly Roberts lays the wreath at the grave of Gunner H Whitfield, while Eric Turnbull recites the names of the fallen.

A poignant Armistice Day commemoration was held at five First World War graves, restored by an Armed Forces veteran.

Eric Turnbull, from Red Row, decided to tidy up the memorials in Chevington Cemetery after being horrified at their deteriorating state.

Eric Turnbull, left, with Warrant Officer Olly Roberts from 203 (Elswick) Battery in Blyth.

Eric Turnbull, left, with Warrant Officer Olly Roberts from 203 (Elswick) Battery in Blyth.

Aided by his daughter Sonia Curry, the work included cleaning the headstones of the graves to make the inscriptions more legible.

Following the selfless DIY job, Mr Turnbull, 78, organised a ceremony to take place at the site on Armistice Day.

As part of the commemorations, he made special memorials in the colours of the Royal Artillery and Northumberland Fusiliers and prior to a two minutes’ silence, these were placed on the restored graves by local schoolchildren. Captain Graham Donkin, Royal Logistic Corps, and Warrant Officer Class Two Olly Roberts, from 203 (Elswick) Battery, 101st (Northumbrian) Regiment Royal Artillery, in Blyth, attended the service.

Warrant Officer Roberts laid a wreath from All Ranks serving in 203 (Elswick) Battery, Royal Artillery, at the grave of Gunner H Whitfield of the Royal Field Artillery, who died on April 12, 1917, aged 27. Mr Turnbull, who served in the Royal Tank Regiment for 15 years, said: “I saw this as an opportunity to put something worthwhile back into the community for those that have gone before us and paid the ultimate sacrifice.” Captain Donkin said: “What Mr Turnbull has achieved is nothing short of exceptional and inspirational.’’