There are two memorials to the Fallen of the Two World Wars in St. Mary’s Churchyard, a roll of honour in the yew tree by the main entrance to the churchyard and a stone memorial to the Fallen of the Two World Wars set in the west wall of the church.
The Parish Magazine for June of 1917 reported the following:
“Roll of Honour.
A permanent Roll of Honour has been presented to the Parish by Mrs. Penn, and on Wednesday May 23rd [the eve of Empire Day] it was unveiled and dedicated in the Churchyard. It is placed in position under the old Yew Tree and will for many a year be a silent witness to the loyalty and devotion of our Nonington men who were content to give their lives in their country’s cause. A large congregation assembled in Church for a short intercessory service, at the conclusion of which the ceremony of unveiling was proceeded with in the Churchyard. A short address was given by the Vicar and then Mrs Penn unveiled The Roll, and having done so she spoke a few words to those assembled, words full of touching references to the fallen, and cheering and courageous counsel to those who are left to carry on the course to its triumphant finish. The Roll was then formally dedicated.
It is worthy of note that the Memorial is made of teak wood and copper from H.M.S. Britania formerly a training ship for the Royal Navy”.
Unfortunately the article does not make it clear whether the Mrs. Penn referred to was Mrs. Gladys Penn or Mrs. Constance Penn, but I think it most likely it was Mrs. Gladys Penn, the widow of Captain Eric Frank Penn of the Grenadier Guards, who had been killed at the age of 37 when a shell fell on his dug-out opposite the Hohenzollern Redoubt at Auchy-les-Mines near Loos-en-Gohelle in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France on 18th October, 1915. Captain Penn is buried or commemorated at Vermelles British Cemetery, grave reference I.K. 11. Captain Penn’s name is the second name on the Nonington Roll of Honour.
Underneath Captain Penn’s name on the Roll of Honour is that of his younger brother, Second Lieutenant Geoffrey Mark Penn of the 6th Battalion (Reserve) of The Rifle Brigade. Geoffrey Penn was aged 28 when he was killed instantaneously by a German sniper on 11th February, 1915, whilst directing trench work near Ploegsteert [Plugstreet] in Flanders when attached to 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry and is buried in the Rifle House Cemetery at Ploegsteert in Belgium, grave reference IV.H.6.
At the time of the presentation of the Roll of Honour the parents of the two brothers, William and Constance Penn, were the tenants at St. Alban’s Court, Nonington, owned by Captain Egerton Hammond who at the time resided in Old Court House at the top of Pinners Hill. The Penn family business was John Penn and Sons, an English engineering company based in London and mainly known for its marine steam engines, which had been founded by the captain’s grandfather and was almost certainly the source of the teak and copper used to make the Roll of Honour. William Penn had played cricket for Kent in the 1870’s and Eric Penn had played for Cambridge and the M.C.C.
The teak and copper
Roll of Honour.
The larger stone memorial for the Fallen of the Two World Wars is set in the west wall of the church which was refurbished and re-dedicated in 2010.