The ceremony to remember and honour Stoker First Class Lenham Yates from the Old Post Office was held at the Lychgate on Monday September 22nd 2014
In September 1914 Lenham Yates, the son of William and Mary of the Old Post Office in Hilton who had been a labourer was then a Stoker First Class on board HMS Aboukir which was patrolling in the North sea of Holland . The ship was one of several that was attacked and sunk with the loss of 1400 sailors including Lenham aged 21.It was later reported that all ranks and ratings displayed discipline, cheerful courage and ready self sacrifice and 800 were saved.
Earlier this month 100 years to the day since his death a poignant ceremony was held at the Lychgate War Memorial in Hilton to remember and honour Lenham as one of the many ceremonies being held by the St Ives and District Branch of the Royal British Legion for the next 5 years under the “Everyman Remembered” tributes honouring the casualties of World War One.
Lenham’s great nieces Jenny Cornwall and Pat Simons of Fenstanton were present at the remembrance which was introduced by Mike Robinson of the St Ives branch who described the incident and the background to it. Legion Bugler Kevin Charter, whose ancestors lived in Hilton, played the Last Post before a minute’s silence, Reverend David Busk led a short prayer and Alan Scott, District Chairman recited a moving poem appropriate for the loss of ships crews at sea.
With her daughter Meg Stanford and her granddaughter Emma Kent, Barbara Warrior from Godmanchester attended to remember her grandfather William Sadler from Tottenham who also died on HMS Aboukir . Barbara had recently met Mike Robinson and by strange coincidence it became apparent that William and Lenham had been shipmates so it added even more poignancy to the morning.
Emma presented a framed citation for Lenham Yates to Margaret Shardlow on behalf of Hilton Royal British Legion which will be kept in Hilton Parish Church and a similar one of her great, great grandfather William Sadler to her grandmother.
Also among the many people at the Lychgate were Derek Bristow, President of Hunts Royal British Legion, Grace Mclaren , Chairman of St. Ives Ladies branch, Standard Bearers Barry Pattison and Jane Crowe and two from The Royal Naval association , Keith Ridley from St. Neots and Karl Webb from Huntingdon.
This was a sombre,reflective and moving time in Hilton’s simple country churchyard where another sailor is buried in a War Grave, where Lenham’s brother will be honoured next March and where the Royal British Legion will conduct ten more such ceremonies by 2019.