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More Of The Serjeant Andrew Malsbury Mystery

Author: John Riches Published: 15th February 2015 19:00

Claire West (centre) at the grave stone of Andrew Malsbury.Claire West (centre) at the grave stone of Andrew Malsbury.

Sgt Andrew Malsbury of the Royal Army Veterinary Corps was remembered at the Remembrance Day Service in our parish church on 9th November last year (2014). He died on 3rd March 1919 almost four months after the end of the First World War and many people had assumed that he had died of injuries sustained fighting on the battlefields of mainland Europe.
Claire West a member of Andrew Malsbury’s family spoke at the service and explained that he had in fact died in action near the River Liffey in Dublin and that his death was registered in Dundalk, Ireland on 3rd March 1919. Claire explained that although there is an official memorial stone in our church yard extension in his memory, there is no burial record in our church records. There was speculation by some that Sgt Malsbury’s body may never have been returned from Ireland. Claire stated that she would investigate further and report back her findings.
Mrs Mo Russell an Enquiries Administrator at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission replied to Claire’s query. “As Serjeant Malsbury is commemorated with a Commission headstone in Abthorpe Church Cemetery, that is where he is buried.” That, remarked Claire, backs up the fact that her mother always referred to it as “Uncle Andrew’s grave.” But it remains a mystery why there is no burial record.
Richard Tomalin our Church Warden has again checked the burial register and states that there is definitely no record of a burial in 1919, or any other year, for Andrew Malsbury. He has also noticed that the grave stone for Andrew is sited the wrong way round – with the inscription facing west rather than east like all the other head stones. Richard is puzzled by that and wonders why it should be. If the War Graves Commission says that there could definitely not be a stone without a burial, then he supposes that has to be accepted. Richard explained that our church yard extension first came into use in 1862. At that time there was a plan of all the grave plots – small ones near the entrance for ordinary people and big ones at the far end for toffs!! The only other piece of information that Richard believes might still be available and could confirm whether there had been a burial service for Andrew Malsbury, is the record of church services book that may still be in Northamptonshire County Records Office.
Claire intends to carry our further investigations and will report back in due course.

John Riches

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