Commonwealth War Grave 440, from WWII, is in The Platt, the small walled cemetery behind the Kings Chapel. 22-year-old Margaret Baker is buried here as Amersham became her home when her father, Reverend Russell Scott Baker, became the minister at Kings Chapel, Old Amersham and the family lived in the Manse on Station Road.
The Baker family
Reverend Baker was originally from Swindon and, like his father Charles, became a minister in the Baptist Church and worked as a railway clerk. He met his wife Bessie Agnes Frost whilst working in Bristol and a son, Donald was born there. Their first daughter Sylvia was born in Kings Norton, Birmingham in 1918, followed by Margaret in 1921. The family later moved to Llandrindod Wells, in Wales, where Margaret went to school.
In 1939 the family came to Amersham when Reverend Baker became the minister at Amersham Baptist Church, known as Kings Chapel, where he stayed until 1945 before returning to Swindon as minister at Swindon Tabernacle Baptist Church. 21-year-old Sylvia initially stayed behind in Llandrindod Wells where she worked in the Postal Service before she transferred to High Wycombe and joined the family in Amersham. In 1944 Sylvia married Clifford Orford, who was also a member of Amersham Baptist Church’s congregation, and settled in Little Chalfont and later Hyde Heath. In 1948 they had a son, Peter Leonard. Bessie died in 1953 and Reverend Baker died at Sylvia’s house in Loudhams Road Little Chalfont in 1958. Their graves are also in The Platt.
Leading Aircraftwoman Baker
Margaret joined the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce (WAAF) during WWII and after training was posted to Norfolk. Her service number was 2000254.
The women of the WAAF were a vital part of the RAF’s war effort. Their work was wide ranging; from maintaining and repairing aircraft, to administrative duties and meteorology. It is not known what work Margaret carried out for the WAAF. Tragically she contracted TB before antibiotics were available to treat this disease and she died at the East Anglian Sanitorium 15 February 1944, which was then run by the British Legion. The hospital was founded by Dr Jane Walker in Nayland-with-Wissington, South Suffolk in 1901 as the first TB hospital which implemented the open-air method of treatment.
Margaret is commemorated on the Amersham War Memorial and the Llandrindod Wells High School Cenotaph. Her grave is one of four Commonwealth War Graves in The Platt.
Commonwealth War Graves
In addition to the Commonwealth War Graves in The Platt, there are also 21 in St Mary’s Cemetery, four in the Chesham Bois Burial Ground and two in St Leonard’s Churchyard, Chesham Bois. Chesham has 35 but there are also war graves in many of the surrounding villages.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission | CWGC was founded by Royal Charter in 1917, to commemorate the 1.7 million men and women from the Commonwealth who lost their lives in the two world wars. The CWGC cares for cemeteries, memorials, and graves in 23,000 locations in more than 150 countries and holds an annual War Graves Week in May to promote their work.
Each grave represents people like us, with their own ambitions, hopes, and dreams and it is important that their stories are kept alive, and that new stories are discovered, to ensure that the human cost of war is remembered for ever. Please contact the museum if you have any further information about Margaret Rosina Baker or any of the other Commonwealth War Graves in the area. For information about WWI graves see Amersham Remembers (U3A project) – Amersham Museum.
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