Gunner Alexander William Cressingham’s grave in Gainsborough General Cemetery has been unmarked for nearly 100 years but in 2014 his grave was accepted as a war grave and a headstone has just been erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). To mark this, the Friends of Gainsborough Cemeteries and Chapel will be holding a ceremony in the Cemetery at 2.00pm on Wednesday 8th November. Anyone will be welcome to attend.
Gunner Cressingham’s obituary in the Gainsborough News in March 1918, states: “On Britain’s roll of honour, You will find a hero’s name.” But his details were not on any official lists. In 2012, the ‘Friends’ sent off information about him to the CWGC. He had first joined the 5th Lancers in 1893, aged 15, and served in India and South Africa before being discharged in 1899 due to vision problems. But after eight months he managed to rejoin the army by enlisting under his mother’s maiden name.
By 1911 he had left the army and was living in Gainsborough and married in 1914. When war broke out he joined the Royal Field Artillery and was soon in France. He was discharged early in 1917 and was awarded a Silver War Badge. He died at home on 7th March 1918.
Because he was discharged due to TB on 3rd January 1917 and his death certificate records TB as the cause of his death on 7th March 1918 his grave was accepted as a war grave in April 2014 and his headstone was erected in the summer of this year.
Cemetery Chapel Exhibition
On Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th November, from 10.00am to 3.00pm, the Friends will be opening the Cemetery Chapel as usual and will be putting on a display about Gunner Cressingham and some of the headstones which have recently been restored, including Harry Baker, a Boer War casualty, and WWII casualties — Gunner Peter Stubbs, killed at El Alamein, Private Ronald Bailey, buried in Kranji War Cemetery and Able Seaman William Arthur Gale, named on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.
Book 4 of ‘Gainsborough’s War Story’ by Peter Bradshaw, which covers 1917 will also be available. This book includes Gainsborough area soldiers involved in the 1917 battles at Arras, Passchendaele and Cambrai. It also details the work of 33 Squadron whose headquarters was at Gainsborough during 1917, it was tasked with defending against Zeppelins. The book also tells the story of Conscientious Objector Alfred Martlew who drowned in the Ouse at York in July 1917.