New memorial cairn dedicated at Northwood Cemetery

Published: 11 June 2024

Memorial cairn at Northwood Cemetery

A memorial cairn has been dedicated at Northwood Cemetery.

The memorial has been constructed from the fragments of headstones damaged during a Luftwaffe raid on shipbuilding and aircraft manufacturing facilities in Cowes during the Second World War.

In the early hours of Tuesday, 27 May 1941, a stray bomb dropped on what is known as Plot 5, immediately behind the east chapel, causing devastating damage to graves and headstones and also to nearby trees and both chapels.

It is said that the crater produced from the bomb could have swallowed up a double decker bus and debris was strewn far and wide.

Two local ARP wardens, Frederick James Wapshott, 34, of Albert Road, Gurnard, and Frederick George Sykes, 49, of Newport Road, Cowes, were involved in the restoration of the disturbed graves. Both sadly died shortly afterwards having contracted diseases from the work involved.

In recent years, the Friends of Northwood Cemetery grounds team have randomly discovered broken pieces of headstone around the bombed area that were difficult to identify and therefore replace to their original locations.

The Trustees elected to have a cairn erected on Plot 5, utilising many of the fragments of headstones uncovered, in memory of those disturbed in their graves that terrible morning.

The design and construction were carried out by local craftsmen, Adam Asling and Phil Watling and a dedication ceremony was led by the Rev David Heatley last month.

He also blessed the newly installed stained glass reredos on the altar in the East Chapel. A reredos is a large altarpiece, a screen, or decoration placed behind the altar in a church.

The panel was designed and made by Dennis Bradbury, the housing designed by Geoff Banks, made and kindly donated by Laurie Boarer.

The funding for both the cairn and the reredos was provided through the efforts of the Friends of Northwood Cemetery who work tirelessly to make Northwood Cemetery a welcoming green space within the town, providing a venue for locals to meet on a social basis and support in locating the graves of lost loved ones.