Veteran who tied graves plans memorial service

Eric Turnbull and his daughter Sonia Curry in Chevington cemetery where they have cleaned the headstones on some of the war graves.'Picture by Jane Coltman
Eric Turnbull and his daughter Sonia Curry in Chevington cemetery where they have cleaned the headstones on some of the war graves.'Picture by Jane Coltman

An Armed Forces veteran who tidied the graves of five soldiers who died in the First World War has organised a special Remembrance Day service in their memory at the renovated plots.

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

Eric Turnbull made these for children to place on the war graves in Chevington cemetery.'Picture by Jane Coltman

Eric Turnbull made these for children to place on the war graves in Chevington cemetery.'Picture by Jane Coltman

The 78-year-old, with the help of daughter Sonia Curry, carried out the selfless DIY job on each of the graves, which included cleaning the headstones to make the inscriptions more legible.

And on Wednesday, November 11, a service will be held at the site from 11am. Children from Red Row, Broomhill and Acklington first schools will be laying small war memorials, which include the date of when each hero fell, on the graves. Rev Sue Reilly will be saying a few words, followed by the Last Post and Reveille.

Eric, who served in the Royal Tank Regiment for 15 years, said: “These First World War graves are of five local men. Two were from Chevington Drift, two were from Broomhill and the other was from Acklington.

“I always attend the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) ceremony at the cemetery, but these particular graves are tucked away in another part of the cemetery. They hadn’t been touched for years, you couldn’t read the names on the headstones and they weren’t in a good state. With it being 100 years since the First World War, I thought they deserved to be given some attention so my daughter and I cleaned them up.”

Eric is pleased with his efforts. He said: “I feel like I have achieved something and I have drawn attention to the fact that these graves do exist and we will never forget them.

“It is nice that the children from the schools will be laying the war memorials and I hope the children will continue to lay these memorials each year.”

Eric, who is the welfare officer for the Newcastle Branch of the Royal Tank Regiment Association, added: “The inscription on each of the memorials which are being laid next month was done by Nicola Lillico, from Amble.”

Everybody is welcome to attend the service, including veterans wearing their medals and blazers.

A contingency of military personnel will also be present on the day.

The Brick Club, in Red Row, will be supplying hot and cold food afterwards. There will also be refreshments and military songs played as background music.