Commonwealth War Graves
We are privileged to look after the forty-seven World War One Commonwealth War Graves on behalf of the War Graves Commission. These graves are situated on the north side of the Church.
Most of the people buried in these graves died at the Salisbury Isolation Hospital which was situated on the Portway, close to what is now Old Sarum Airfield. At that time it was part of the Parish of Stratford sub Castle. It was built in 1911 and remained a hospital until 1951. Latterly it was used as a centre for Adults with Learning Needs before being demolished in 2012 for housing development.
You can view a list of the names of the 47 serviceman and one nurse who were buried in these graves from WW1, in the document on the right:
There are also two World War Two graves - those of R.E. Ginder RAF and D.D. Rawlins RAF War Graves Commission WW2 details here
In addition to the War Graves, the Church also records the deaths of nine soldiers who had connections with Stratford-sub-Castle and who were killed on active service overseas during World War One. All but two of these soldiers died in France or Belgium, with one dying in Greece and the other in Mesopotamia. The names of all these soldiers are recorded inside the Church on the South Wall adjacent to the Organ Gallery stairs and in the Wayside Cross booklet available in the Church.
The 25th of April marks the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. Thousands lost their lives during the Gallipoli campaign and it had a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home.
The first Anzac Day commemorations were held on 25 April 1916. During the 1920s Anzac Day became established as a national day of commemoration in Australia and New Zealand and later, Anzac Day also served to commemorate those who died in the Second World War. The nature of commemorations are rich in tradition and ritual although they have gone through many changes over the years. 25th April is a now a day on which to remember all those killed in war or peacekeeping and honours returned and serving servicemen and women. In Australia, sprigs of rosemary are worn on Anzac Day as an emblem of remembrance. Since ancient times rosemary has been believed to have properties that improve the memory and is of particularly significance as it is found growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula.
Stratford sub Castle has its own traditions for Anzac Day. During the war, and for a short time afterwards, soldiers from the Commonwealth were stationed in the camps around Salisbury Plain. Meningitis and influenza were common and spread amongst the soldiers. Many were transferred to Salisbury Isolation Hospital and some who died there were buried in the churchyard at St Lawrence.
After the war it became a tradition for the children of Stratford School to lay posies on the graves of the Anzac soldiers. The school year now includes a short service of remembrance on 25 April during which the children lay the posies, a wreath is laid on the Cross of Sacrifice and the Australian Aboriginal Flag, an official flag of Australia is raised at St Lawrence Church in remembrance of the Aboriginal Australian soldiers buried in the Commonwealth War Graves.
Images : Anzac graves; Aboriginal flag; children from Stratford School laying posies in 2019; the Aboriginal flag flying from the tower of St Lawrence Church in 2018.
In 2020, Coronavirus social distancing restrictions prevented the school from holding their service. However, some of the traditions at St Lawrence were maintained. Sprigs of rosemary were laid on the Anzac graves and short commemorative prayers were delivered over the War Graves. A wreath of rosemary & three poppies (one each for the army, navy and air force), was laid on the Cross of Sacrifice and the Australian Aboriginal flag flew from the tower.