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  • Claire Jordan

Great Big Hearts

This is the marvellous Oldham War Memorial, made up of five life-sized Tommies, cast in bronze, making their way along a trench. It stands on a huge granite plinth between St Mary’s Church and the old town hall.

One of the men it honours is Alfred Clutterham, born a long way south in Great Finborough, Suffolk to Mum Mary Ann and Dad Arthur who sadly died aged 23, leaving Mary with three small children.

Alfred grew up to marry beautifully-named local girl Ethel Bird in Oldham in 1909 and they proceeded to have five little ones in a few short years: Robert, Ethel, Emma, Lilian and little Alfred.

Big Alfred had almost made it through the War with the 12th Manchesters when, during the first week of October 1918, he was hit by multiple gunshot wounds in the thighs, buttocks and shoulders. They patched him up as best they could in the 18th General Hospital on the French coast before shipping him back to England on 29th October.

He died in a military hospital in Stockport three days later, #OnThisDay, 2nd November 1918. He was 30 and his youngest son was just ten months old.

Another son of Great Finborough also died on 2nd November 1918, killed in action with the Lancashire Fusiliers, attacking the Happegarbe Spur near the small French town of Landrecies, south-east of Valenciennes. He was grammar-school-educated, 21 year old Private John Arthur Mudd Matthew, the eldest of the three sons of wealthy farmer Samuel and his wife Emma (nee Mudd).

Great Finborough may only be a small Suffolk village, but its sons certainly have great big hearts.

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