Jonah George Thompson was born in December 1890, one of nine children born to Mary and John of Garnett Bridge in Cumbria.
Jonah was born at West View and went to Selside School until he was 11. He then moved down to Riverbank, Garnett Bridge where his mother worked the corn mill. After he left school he was employed by Major Cropper as a groom and chauffeur at Summerhow in Skelsmergh for more than 10 years.
In 1910 he joined the local territorial force – the Cumberland and Westmorland Yeomanry – and volunteered for overseas service after the war broke out. He served as a dispatch rider in France for nine months and was promoted to corporal.
He applied for a commission in the Royal Flying Corps and after training as a pilot at Oxford and Castle Bromwich in the summer of 1916 he was stationed at Farnborough taking aircraft to France and recorded as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was killed while instructing at Norwich at the age of 27 on 19 May 1917.
Jonah’s life was short but adventurous: he worked with horses, graduated to driving an early motorcar, then rode a motorbike as a dispatch rider and died flying an aeroplane – a machine that had not been invented when he had begun work as a groom a dozen years before.
Unlike all the other casualties recorded on the Skelsmergh cross, he is buried locally – at Selside. He is also commemorated at Burneside.