Appeal to trace relatives of St John Ambulance Brigade members who fell in the First World War - 238 names feature on memorial displayed in Durham Cathedral

Members of St John Ambulance are appealing for help to trace relatives of members of their brigade who fell in the First World War

By Ross Robertson
Saturday, 01 June, 2019, 15:46
St John's Ambulance members with the panel

A total of 238 members of the Northern District of the St John Ambulance Brigade - including eight women - who gave their lives to provide medical care during the Great War are listed on a memorial on display in Durham Cathedral

Half of those named on the historic six-foot-wide oak panel come from County Durham, as it was in 1914, with many belonging to colliery units.

The panel in Durham Cathedral

Others remembered come from Northumberland and the former East and North Ridings of Yorkshire.

They are among 1,077 heroes from across the nation who died between 1914 and 1919 as volunteers of the St John Ambulance Brigade, as the charity was then known.

Modern-day volunteers from the health charity suggested the panel – which had lain in obscurity for decades – be displayed in public to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War.

With funding from the County Priory Groups of the Order of St John in the North East, it was restored and is on view in the south transept of the cathedral.

St John's Ambulance members with the panel

Gillian Willmore, who chairs the Durham County Priory Group, said: “The loving restoration and display of this beautiful memorial by the volunteers is an expression of their respect for the sacrifice made by the St John Ambulance Brigade a hundred years ago.

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“We are thrilled that Durham Cathedral is putting it on display and expect the panel will move many people, especially those whose relatives are named.”

The display is timed to coincide with the charity’s annual re-dedication ceremony on Sunday, 2nd June.

Hundreds are expected to attend the event, from 1.15pm to 2.45pm in the cathedral, including St John Ambulance volunteers, members of the Order of St John, HM Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Mrs Susan Snowdon, and other civic dignitaries.

The panel will be on display until June 9, and a full list of names which feature can be viewed online here: http://www.newmp.org.uk/detail.php?contentId=7320#listlink

The memorial panel features four corner paintings by 1920s artist Alfred Lambert, who also painted posters used to promote rail company, LNER.

They depict a medieval Knight of the Order of St John, a 12th century saint, a St John Ambulance Brigade female nurse in 1919 uniform and a male volunteer of the same period standing in front of St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell, London, the site of the charity’s headquarters today.

Anyone with information about those commemorated on the panel – or about other St John members who gave their lives in the Great War – are asked to contact Elizabeth Srogi on srogi@btinternet.com.

For information about volunteering with St John Ambulance, visit www.sja.org.uk.