100 years to the day after he died, a parish remembers a local hero

The parish of Wettenhall remembered Corporal John George Rathbone in a special church service, held 100 years to the day after he lost his life in the First World War. 

Corporal Rathbone (known as Jack to his family) died towards the end of the war at Poperinge, Belgium, on 19 August 1918. He is buried there in a military grave with, “Peace, perfect peace”, as his epithet; he was just 26 years old.

Born in Wettenhall, near Tarporley, he attended Calveley School and before war broke out he was engaged to be married and working as a chauffeur in Cuddington. 

The service was attended by Corporal Rathbone’s niece Mrs. Gladys Heppell, her daughter Susan, son-in-law Jeremy and grandson Ben. Corporal Rathbone’s great grand-nephew, James Roberts, gave a moving account of visiting Poperinge to see Corporal Rathbone’s grave and the sense of pride and gratitude that the visit instilled in him. 

Chris Pope from St David’s Church and one of the organisers said: “100 years to the day when he gave his life for king and country, he was remembered with honour with an afternoon tea party and church service. The event included the display of a beautiful acrylic image of Corporal Rathbone, designed as part of the There but not There commemoration. The acrylic silhouette will help to connect communities and remember soldiers lost a century ago. The service was a memorable, moving and fitting tribute to a local man who gave his life in the service of his country and king.”

There But Not There is a national programme that aims to be the defining centenary commemoration of the end of the 1914-1918 war. Churches can purchase acrylic silhouettes to place in community halls, places of worship and places of education, to help bring to mind those who went to war and did not return.

There But Not There is a national programme that aims to be the defining centenary commemoration of the end of the 1914-1918 war. Speaking in June, the Bishop of Stockport, Libby Lane, encouraged parishes in the Diocese of Chester to consider participating in the There But Not There commemoration. She said: “This project offers a poignant tribute to the thousands who went to war, never to return, and the millions whose lives were affected by loss. As we mark the centenary of the end of WW1, it is important that we continue to remember.”

In the centenary year since the end of WW1, Remembrance Sunday by a stroke of historic good fortune falls on Remembrance Day, 11 November. Hundreds of churches across the Diocese of Chester will be marking the occasion with services of remembrance. 

The Bishop of Chester will be attending a church service in Stoak. The Bishop of Birkenhead will be leading a service at Hamilton Square, Birkenhead. The Bishop of Stockport will be attending Stockport Council’s, Act of Remembrance in the morning, followed by their Service of Remembrance in the evening. 

Find your local remembrance service by visiting www.achurchnearyou.com   

Please tell us about your plans for Remembrance Day. Email the Communications Team with the details so that we can collate some of the activities taking place around our diocese. 

Page last updated: Monday 17th September 2018 9:42 AM
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