Nov 09 2018

Londonthorpe volunteers and parish council mark the centenary of the end of WW1

Londonthorpe & Harrowby “Without” Parish Council marked the centenary of the WW1 ending by planting a Walnut tree in Belton Park.


The dramatic weather, high winds closing the park on Saturday and torrential rain on Sunday caused a total rethink of the planned schedule. The ceremony was moved to Belton Old School before those feeling able moved out to the park to plant the tree.

Parish Council Chairman Cllr Paul Bakker welcomed everyone to the event including our invited guests. Cllr John Anderson, who first had the idea of the Parish council marking the Centenary, gave a short talk on the history of Belton Park camp which was established during WW1.


 Londonthorpe & Harrowby “Without” Parish Councillors had invited the “Machine Gun Corps Old Comrades Ass” to join in with this event. They had attended their Service of Remembrance in St Wulframs on the Saturday and about 8 members stayed on to join us. Other invited guests included Cllr George Chivers Chairman of SKDC, members of Belton & Manthorpe PC, LCC Councillors for both Parishes and Parishioners of Londonthorpe and Harrowby, over 30 people in total.


Ex Parish Councillor the Reverend John Cook led the prayers and the dedication.


Jo Dawes a leader with Ancaster Scouts stepped in at the very last minute to play the Last Post and Reveille.


Members of the congregation were able to attach a remembrance cross to the tree guard whilst we were still in the Old School. There was one for each serviceman buried in St John the Baptist Churchyard, eleven of whom were Machine Gun Corp members. All are believed to have died in Belton Camp and its hospital. These graves are looked after by the “Commonwealth War Graves Commission”.


After a warming drink a few hardy people braved the rain and went into the park to plant the tree.


This was no random planting as it was placed on the boundary between Londonthorpe and Belton parishes. The Walnut tree chosen was specifically to replace one missing in the row set as boundary markers over 100 years ago. The site chosen was very close to where the Army Camp (Belton) was during WW1.


Although the camp was called Belton because it’s in Belton Park, the majority of the site is actually in Londonthorpe Parish. Both the parishes of Londonthorpe and Harrowby have strong connections with both wars as the RAF Regiment was formed at Alma Park.


The formation of the Machine Gun Corps was authorized in October 1915 with infantry, cavalry, motor and in early 1916 a heavy branch. A depot and training centre was established at Belton Park in Grantham.


During the Second World War, with its first headquarters established at RAF Belton Park (Alma House) the RAF Regiment came into existence in name, on 1 February 1942.


The Parish Council would like to thank all those who helped to make this occasion a success.


Woodland Trust Volunteers involved Paul Bakker, Richard Keeler and Group Leader Pete Armstrong.


Article by Pete Armstrong

Feature image by Kevin Milner

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