THE go-ahead has been given for alterations to be made to the war memorial in Malton to create “a more functional use of the space” on the side of Yorkersgate, despite objections from the War Memorials Trust.

The plan was submitted to Ryedale District Council’s planning committee by Malton and Norton Rotary Club.

The War Memorials Trust was concerned about the relocation of the memorial plaques and felt the proposed work was not necessary. They feared the work would put the plaques at risk of being damaged as well as divorcing them from the central memorial cross.

A report from planning officials stated that while the comments were acknowledged, it was felt their relocation was important in sustaining and enhancing the significance of the heritage asset.

The alterations will include relocating the screen wall and memorial stone, creating extra steps, the provision of a new memorial stone and flag pole and the erection of boundary railings and providing two seats.

The committee heard that a previous plan, which would have involved some excavation, had been amended because of concerns about the impact of such work on a tree within the site but the revised plan would still allow wheelchair access into the lower part of the site.

The report stated the proposals would “create a more functional use of the space by integrating the war memorial into the land at the rear of the site”. The plans would also allow a visual improvement of the site, which was important as it formed a key feature at the entrance of the town, while the current layout and its nearness to the road prevented it from being used effectively for memorial services.

Alan Mitchell of the Rotary Club told the committee that the war memorial had been sited there because it was the original site of a canon taken from Sebastopol during the Crimean war.

The “sensitive” scheme would rejuvenate the site where the paving was uneven and discussions had taken place with the Royal British Legion, churches, local councils and the Fitzwilliam Estate.

“This, coupled with the work on The Talbot and The Mount hotels will provide a welcome to those entering Malton,” said Mr Mitchell.

The committee unanimously agreed to the plan.

The stories behind those names

ROTARIANS John Howard and Colin Jennings are researching the names on Malton War Memorial as part of the project to transform the site.

The panels list 102 names, 82 of which are from the First World War.

They include Arthur Wray, who has the sad honour of being the last name engraved on the memorial.

John said they know from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that he was the son of John Robert and Mary Wray of Peasey Hill, Malton.

“He served as a Private 13073 with the 9th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, known in later years as the Green Howards, and was killed on October 7, 1916, aged 22,” he said.

“Arthur has no grave, but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the 72,000 missing soldiers from the Somme battlefield.”

In October 1914, the 9th battalion and its sister the 8th were attached to the 69th Brigade in the 23rd Division. They moved down to Fensham near Aldershot in February 1915.

Training over, they received orders for France on August 23, 1915, and arrived at Boulogne four days later.

Arthur’s first experience in the trenches came on September 16. From September to the end of December, Arthur rotated in and out of the trenches near Estaires. In November alone, four of Arthur’s comrades were killed and 20 wounded.

On the night of December 31 and January 1, 1916, the battalion undertook its first attack, a successful raid with 100 men on the German trenches. Later that year, the whole battalion was engaged in one of the early Somme battles with attacks made on July 3, 1916, and again on July 10. In these two attacks Arthur was to lose 87 of his comrades, with 351 wounded. On August 13 the battalion was moved out of the Somme battlefield, north by train to the Bailleul area, but still rotating in and out of the trenches. The respite was not to last and the Battalion was ordered back into the Somme battlefield on September 6. Arthur’s final attack came on the October 7.

The divisional diary records:

“Oct 7th Rain-trace 66°-52°F fine day, windy & rain at night. The wind & low clouds interfered with flying, but the attack began nevertheless at 1.45pm. The British & French advance on ALBERT-BAPAUME road. The British advance a thousand yards & capture LE SARS.

The battalion war diary records:

Battalion took part in an attack on LE SARS, which was entirely successful. Casualties; Officers killed 2, wounded 3, OR killed 15, wounded 36, missing 10.

Since Arthur has no grave, he is probably one of the missing 10.

This attack was one of the last of the Somme battles which finally finished on November 18, 1916.

Anyone who would like to view the list or can provide further details of the names should visit the Malton and Norton Rotary Club website and click on Malton War Memorial.