Rackstraw boys

Stop number ORANGE 7: To find the grave of the Rackstraw family stay on the same level and walk across to the tarmac path on your right and enter the cemetery extension (opened in 1929). After the hedge on your left you will find a Rackstraw grave.
This is the grave of Samuel and Ronald who are believed to be cousins of our two Rackstraw soldiers whose story you can read below. (And sadly, if you read the inscription on their grave, you can see that another double loss was to occur within the Rackstraw clan only twenty six years later. Although they died in 1942 their deaths were not war related. Ronald was killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after his father's death. A joint funeral was held at All Saints Parish Church on Oct 24th).
Ellen Rackstraw and her husband are actually buried much further along in this cemetery extension but because there is no memorial to her two WW1 sons within the cemetery we'll stop here to read her story.
Rackstraw grave
Rackstraw grave
When you are ready to move on click on the dot/circle for the Wilson family.

Grave of Ellen Rackstraw Brook
Grave of Ellen Rackstraw further along in the cemetery Brook Street (SWOP BFP40157)

Ellen Rackstraw (1860-1934)

I am Ellen Rackstraw and I was born in 1860 in Marlow. I now live at 11 Brook Street High Wycombe with my husband Joseph (he’s a best chair maker) and we were once a family of six. Ellen, Walter, Clara, Joseph, Leonard and Bertha. They were all involved in the chair trade except for Leonard who worked for Mr Temple at Temple End as a confectioner and baker. It was my two youngest sons, Joseph and Len who I lost to the Great War.

When Len was killed in August at 23 yrs of age - he was a Lewis gunner and died along with many of his regiment - I got the kindest letters from his army chums, one now in hospital, who not only remembered him fondly but also recalled the happy days here at home. Another one said ‘He was a fine fellow – brave, perhaps a bit too brave.’ Yes, that sounds like my Len.

Then Joe died in September at a casualty clearing station in France only a few weeks later. He was 25 and died as a result of his injuries, but at least he was being cared for, not left on the battlefield. He worked at Mr Howland’s factory in Denmark St and had got engaged to Ada. His future was looking so rosy. He wrote a letter to us on the eve of the battle and asked a comrade to post it should he be killed and it said:

Dear Ada and Mother, I am writing these few lines hoping you are well, as I am at present. I’ve had mother’s letter to-night and was glad to see that she was much more cheerful. I am writing this letter on the eve of an attack on the German position at (censored) in which I am to take part. I am trusting in my God for a safe return, but if I fall I am asking you to say ‘Thy will be done’. This may be my last day on earth but my trust in God is greater then ever. I may fall, even as Len fell, but it’s only a short cut to Heaven. Be a good girl Ada, and live as you’ve always lived and God will bless you. Hoping there will be no need for you to receive this letter, I remain, to the end, your ever loving son, and sweetheart, Joe

He was a good Methodist like his parents and we will always be proud of him. (Both my husband and I are buried in the cemetery in F1 Uncon 441.)

Researched and performed by Sally Scagell of Flackwell Local Area History Group/Buckinghamshire Family History Society/Lost the Plot Rackstraw boys on Wycombe Hospital war memorial
Researched and performed by Sally Scagell of Flackwell Local Area History Group/
Buckinghamshire Family History Society/
Lost the Plot
Rackstraw boys on Wycombe Hospital war memorial

Back to map