Stinchcombe might be known as the place where Evelyn Waugh wrote Brideshead Revisited. It might be known for Stinchcombe Hill which lies above it, a difficult proposition for those Cotswold Way walkers who set their sights on it. In Stinchcombe itself, the vast church which you can peer into with its dark corners and shadows begs you to think back to this was once magnificent sight.
But in the Church of St. Cyr, Stinchcombe, against the backdrop of a steepening hillside offers some evidence of the past of this place.
My eye is drawn to a gravestone carved with a lily. It is the memorial to a man. It lies near a yew tree, some way up the bank behind the church. The grave belongs to the loving memory of Ernest Mallett, Royal Engineers.
A chorister and server at Tewkesbury Abbey
So it reads.
Died from the effects of service in the Great War
December 16th 1923 age 39 years.
There is no elegant white Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone. There is no sign of his war service. Just a simple phrase.
One of the most honourable men in Gloucestershire.
He is not listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Roll of Honour.
For as the CWGC states:
“Our commitment lies with the commemoration of those members of the Commonwealth forces who lost their lives between the following dates:
4 August 1914 to 31 August 1921.”
Ernest Mallett’s name is not among the 22 names on the Stinchcombe War Memorial.
For these are the names of Stinchcombe’s war dead:
William F HAWKINS
Frank Reginald SUMMERS
Henry James WOODWARD
Albert George WYATT
It says on the war memorial:
They gave their lives for you;
See that you live for others;
‘Tis the best that you can give.
So Ernest Mallett, man of Tewkesbury, photographer, who served with the Royal Engineers lies in the shade of the yew tree in Stinchcombe graveyard.
This is a man who became a soldier, lived to return from war; only to return to die from the war not as a soldier, but as a man. Not as a casualty of the war, but to quote his headstone: an honourable man.
NB The war memorial at Stinchcombe was not designed to stand where it does, in a road junction opposite the church,. It was meant to stand in the graveyard. Interesting? Perhaps another question over the concept of war and its participants.