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The Sgt Andrew Malsbury Mystery In Abthorpe

Author: John Riches Published: 9th November 2014 20:14

Claire West and her daughters Nicola and Rachel by the official headstone to Sgt Andrew Malsbury. with local farmer Frank Osborne who spoke about an American bomber that crashed on his farm during World War Two.Claire West and her daughters Nicola and Rachel by the official headstone to Sgt Andrew Malsbury with local farmer Frank Osborne who spoke about an American bomber that crashed on his farm during World War Two.
When the decision was made to make a short presentation at our Remembrance Day service about the life of one of Abthorpe’s war dead whose name is recorded on our village memorial there was an unexpected twist to the story.

Sergeant Andrew Malsbury of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps died on 3rd March 1919 almost four months after the end of the First World War. It was easy to assume that he’d died of wounds sustained fighting in Flanders or France.

But when Rene Balderson, whose memory serves the village so well, was asked if she knew anything about Sgt Malsbury she suggested that her next door neighbour Margaret Bunting should be asked as, unlikely as it may seem, he was her uncle. Margaret was most helpful and suggested that contact be made with her niece Claire West who is in the process of researching their family’s history. Claire quickly volunteered to speak at the service and explain what she had found out.
 
Andrew Malsbury was born on 2nd June 1882 and was baptised in our church the following November. He was the second child of Elijah and Ellen Malsbury who were both born, baptised and married in Abthorpe. Elijah was a shepherd and Ellen a lace maker and for a while lived in Great Billing. After a move back to Abthorpe where four more of Andrew’s siblings were born they went on to Sywell where three more children were added to their tally – nine in total.
 
Andrew became a groom and married Ellen Eva Rose in the Hardingstone District. No doubt helped by his expertise with horses he joined the Royal Army Veterinary Corps and rose to the rank of sergeant. Claire admitted that his whereabouts during the war is a mystery but he survived and was posted to Ireland during their War of Independence.

The family story is that Andrew died in action near the River Liffey in Dublin. His death was registered in Dundalk, Ireland on 3rd March 1919. When his parents received the news of his death they were living in Cadogan Place just along Silver Street from or village pub The New Inn.
 
Claire stated that she only found out last week that there is no burial record for Andrew in our church records. His body may never have been brought back from Ireland despite the fact that an official memorial stone has been erected in our church yard extension in his honour.

Claire is carrying out further research and will report back her findings that we await with interest.

John Riches

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