Brothers in arms who died in battle

Lusby brothers
Lusby brothers

Memorials honouring the sacrifices of the First World War provide a lasting tribute to loved ones lost in that devastating conflict.

Now, a century on from the start of the war in August 1914, few could be more poignant than that honouring three brothers from Lusby who fell in battle.

A plaque in St Peter’s Church and Lusby War Memorial commemorates the five villagers who lost their lives including the members of the Elsey family who died on the Western Front in the space of a few months in 1917-18.

Three of the six sons of John and Mary Elsey were killed and another two severely injured.

John Thomas Elsey, was the first of the brothers to die. He was serving in the 31st Canadian (Alberta) Battalion, when he was killed in action, aged 35, on May 1, 1917.

Although he was the first Elsey brother to die, his was not the first war death in the family. Younger sister Martha’s husband Ernest Stirzaker had been killed on April 24, 1917, serving with the 
2nd Battalion of the 
Yorkshire Regiment.

Fred Elsey, born in Lusby in 1886, was a shepherd like his father. Married to Ernest’s sister Laura, he was killed aged 31 on November 4, 1917, serving with the 13th Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment.

Frank Elsey, born in 1895, was a waggoner before joining up. He died of wounds, aged 23, on April 17, 1918, serving with the 1st Battalion of the Lincolnshire Regiment.

Two Elsey brothers survived the war, but at a cost. George lost a leg and died in 1947. The youngest brother Arthur suffered a serious arm wound and passed away in 1974.

Their father, John, died 18 months after the end of the war on June 9, 1920. His wife, Mary, died on October 18, 1931. They are buried in Lusby churchyard alongside their son George.

Spilsby and District History Society chairman Raymond Glynne-Owen has researched the story of the Elsey family.

He said: “In 1911 the population of Lusby was only 91 and 15 of its menfolk enlisted in the Great War of whom five died. It was even more tragic that one family from such a small community lost three sons out of five who enlisted, but this is just what happened to the Elsey family.”