Almost every churchyard in this country contain the casualties of both wars, either men who died of wounds, died of disease (esp 1918) or were airmen who died in training or during accidents. In addition to that, references to casualties are often found on the graves of others. The depth of the losses suffered was etched deep into the psyche of post war Britain that parents often had inscriptions to their fallen sons on their own tombstones. Murston is no different .There are three war graves within the churchyard at Murston. The CWGC only lists two.
This grave caused me some difficulties. It is not unusual to find an Australian Army headstone in an English Churchyard. Many English born men served in the Australian Army and subsequently died. What was strange was that the stone was made out to a Sapper of the Australian Army, aged 57, dying in 1962. Australian ground forces were involved in the war in the far and middle east, the service number was a world war two era one, and he seemed old for a serving soldier. Enquiries into WW2 service revealed that Stewart West was born in England (town unknown) in 1904. He enlisted on the 10th August 1940 in Claremont near Perth in Western Australia. He was discharged on 31st January 1946. He was listed as being a prisoner of war . So how did he come to be buried in Murston, and why a CWGC headstone. Due to the advances in Ancestry.com I found a Stewart West born in 1904 in Milton, in the 1911 census he is listed as living in Tonge. His death is registered in Sittingbourne. So perhaps he returned to the area of his birth and died here. But the big question is why a CWGC headstone, all WW2 vets do not get this treatment. Perhaps his death was a result of his service??, or perhaps the alternative was a funeral on the council. Who knows.
Not far from Sapper Wests grave is that of Alfred Clark, Corporal RAF. The grave is well looked after. The circumstances of Alfreds death were relayed to me by Bryan, Alfreds son. Alfred was an RAF dispatch rider. He was returning from embarkation leave as he was being posted overseas. He crashed his motorcycle as a result of a bomb blast or on hitting a bomb crater and was thrown against a tree. He died of his injuries and was buried back in Murston.
HARDING,LESLIE GEORGE was a Stoker Petty Officer in the Royal Navy. Lived at 57 Bayford road He was serving on HMS Kelvin when he died on service in Devon 13th Aug 1945 aged 35. Buried Murston Cemetery, Plot B grave 122.