Student’s research questions validity of Stanbridge’s Thankful Village claim

Frank Robinson's grave in Connaught Cemetery, near Thiepval, Northern France
Frank Robinson's grave in Connaught Cemetery, near Thiepval, Northern France

A village’s 100-year-old claim to have lost none of its soldiers during the Great War has finally been challenged...

Finn DeVille, 16, decided to investigate the claim that Stanbridge was a ‘Thankful Village’ as a thesis for his Duke of Edinburgh Award.

And in a meticulous body of research that would put most undergraduates to shame, Finn might have found the answer!

Finn explained: “A ‘Thankful Village’ is a village where all the soldiers who served in The Great War (1914-18) came back home alive.”

Some 33 men from Stanbridge are said to have enlisted in the Great War and returned home.

But Finn’s research uncovered the story of 28-year-old farm labourer Frank Charles Robinson, who was born in Linslade in 1888 but moved to Stanbridge where he lived with his wife and daughter.

Frank was killed on September 28, 1916, in Flanders. His wife Grace never remarried and she lived the rest of her life in Stanbridge.

Although not born in the village, Frank’s story poses a challenge to Stanbridge’s claim to be a ‘Thankful Village’. But most importantly, Finn feels his work has shone a light on the life of a forgotten soldier of the Great War.

He wrote: “Even if this does mean Stanbridge will lose its claim to be a Thankful Village, that is better than Frank Robinson going without being properly remembered, just as almost every other British soldier so rightly has been.”

Chairman of Stanbridge Parish Council, Elaine Sutton said: “The parish council were all very impressed with the amount of work Finn put into trying to establish if Stanbridge was indeed a Thankful Village, as it had been suggested for many years, although never officialy listed.

“Whilst we are all naturally disappointed to no longer qualify, we all commend Finn’s hard work to ensured that Frank Robinson will now be remembered as he should be. The village was able to remember Frank this year in the church service and during the commemorations on the Sunday night.

“Stanbridge Parish Council will be funding a wooden plaque in memory of Frank Robinson for the church and Finn will be included in the unveiling. This will sit alongside the memorial plaque for those lost in the Second World War... We would very much like to thank Finn for all his hard work.”

Finn finished his project by visiting Frank’s grave in Connaught Cemetery, near Thiepval, Northern France.

He wrote: “It was very moving to finally find his grave in the immaculately kept British military cemetery.”

Read Finn’s research in full at www.stanbridge.bedsparishes.gov.uk/assets/documents/thankful-village.