Top grade for memorial to farmlads who went to war

Two war memorials in an East Yorkshire village have been given the highest grade listing as part of commemorations to mark the centenary of the First World War.

The striking Wagoners’ Memorial, at Sledmere, to the farm lads who formed the Wagoner’s Special Reserve, has been upgraded to Grade One, along with the Eleanor Cross just a few metres away.

The Memorial, which was designed by the reserve’s founder and Commanding Officer, Sir Mark Sykes, tells the story of the 800 men sent to France without any military training, to haul ammunition, food and equipment to the trenches.

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To begin with they were stationed behind the frontline, but as the war dragged on they were deployed to front line units and often found themselves in the firing line. Around 80 didn’t make it home.

The Cross was converted into a war memorial after WW1 by Sir Mark to commemorate men from his estate, fellow officers and friends.

Historic England, who have pledged to protect 2,500 memorials by 2018, say for one village to have two war memorials of the highest grade “is without parallel.” Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: “Over 1m Britons lost their lives in the First World War. It’s important that their sacrifice is not forgotten – and that the lessons learnt during that time are as resonant now as they were then.”

Sir Mark, who died in the Spanish flu epidemic, was one of the architects of the geography of the modern Middle East, the secret Sykes-Picot agreement, which gave Iraq, the Gulf and regions bordering Palestine to England, and Syria and most of the eastern part of the region to France. Their straight lines divided lands that had been ruled by the Ottamans since the early 16th century, and sowed the seeds for many of the region’s problems today.