The last farewell by a wife to her husband. Hung on a wall in Ampney Crucis church. There is something earnest and beautiful about it. Made of wood and crafted with a consideration and care. Thoughtful. For here in this beautiful and elegant Cotswold village, the war must have seen like a lifetime away. Here in this estate church perched next to a grand house. Village life, estate life must have been the life of this village.
I passed the village war memorial on the way to the church; over the brook and past the small green where the Cotswold stone memorial cross stands.
This cross was erected by the inhabitants of Ampney Crucis in memory of the men who fell in the Great War 1914 – 1918 whose names are inscribed hereon and in thankfulness for the safe return of many others who went from this village
It is unusual for a war memorial to comment on the safe return of their loved ones. Unfortunately John Doran wasn’t one of those who returned safe.
In loving memory of my dear husband John Doran Sergt R.M.L.I. who gave his life for his country in Grenay, France July 21st 1916
The last farewell by a wife to her husband.
Hung on a wall in Ampney Crucis church. There is something earnest and beautiful about it. Made of wood and crafted with a consideration and care. Thoughtful.
Born in 1887 in Whitehaven, Cumbria, John Doran was killed in action on July 21st 1916 as a Sergeant in the 2nd Royal Marine Light Infantry.
In the battalion war diary, it states on the early morning of the 21st July, Sergeant Doran was shot through the knee and then killed whilst out wiring about 12:45 am.
John enlisted in the R.M.L.I. in 1905, he had been promoted Corporal in 1910 then Lance-Sergeant in January 1914. He was on HMS Warrior around the Scottish coast until December 1915 where he was also promoted Sergeant. He was fished off the sea to join the Royal Naval Division on Mudros in the Mediterranean; where he will have most likely seen the men who had faced and survived Gallipoli.
Sent on to the Western Front, the 2nd R.M.L.I. spent the 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, doing drill practice.
On the 20th July, they were ordered to relieve the 1st Royal Marines around Angres, near Lens. On their right, Anson Battalion and on their left Royal Welsh Fusiliers. It was a quiet area apart from a mine explosion and some artillery fire between both sides on that day/night.
That night, early morning the next day John Doran was shot and killed. He is buried at Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery, named for the railway station that served Bully and Grenay.
His wife wrote on his gravestone:
It seems as though she never did. They had been married in August 1915 in Hannington, Wiltshire. He, a Corporal from HMS Warrior from Ampney Crucis and she, the daughter of a gardener living at Hannington but brought up in Ampney Crucis. A war-time marriage, probably home on leave. A marriage that lasted until a gunshot on a frontline in France.
His name remains never forgotten. It remains written on a personal tribute hanging on this church wall, on a framed memorial and on the elegant Ampney Crucis War Memorial at the turn to the church.