Tag Archives: Commonwealth Graves Commission

Remember Me Project- Day 2 WW1 War Graves, France

Cabaret Rouge Cemetery,Rocking Dog

Cabaret Rouge Cemetery

The Remember Me Project, researching names on the war memorial at Whiteshill Common, Hambrook took me to France. The second day of cemetery visits dawned sunny, with blue skies and rich autumnal colours. Our first cemetery of the day was a visit to Le Touret. The cemetery commemorates over 13,400 British soldiers killed in this sector of the Western front from October 1914 until the eve of the Battle of Loos in late September 1915 and who have no known grave. I was able to place a poppy cross close to stone 17B for Pte Francis (Frank) Candy who died on 6th April 1915 whilst serving with the Gloucestershire Regiment. The cemetery was impressive in the early morning sunshine, and beyond the boundary walls there were field upon field of cabbages, cows and people working the land.

We then headed to The Guards Cemetery at Windy Corner, Cuinchy. The name Windy Corner was coined by WW1 troops to describe the cross roads at Cuinchy. Close to the landmark a house existed which served as a dressing station and battalion HQ. In time the cemetery sprang up beside this house. Of all the graves I visited I found Guardsman 19 year old Frank Henry Harcombes disconcertingly moving. He had been buried closely together with two fellow Grenadier Guardsmen who had died on the same day (17th March 1915). Seeing the three graves with no gaps between was poignant. There was sweet birdsong within the cemetery and the thoughtful planting for all year round colour (lupins, sedum, aubretia, rock roses, iris’s, roses, lambs ears and soldiers & sailors). Beyond the cemetery there was the hum of a tractor ploughing.

Much larger was the cemetery we visited next. Cabernet Rouge cemetery contains the graves of 7,650 British Empire servicemen. It’s name came about as a result of a small cafe which was eventually destroyed by heavy shelling in May 1915. The cafe was distinctive in that it was built of brick and had a red tiled roof. Other buildings in the village were mainly thatched. It is a seriously impressive cemetery and is almost spear shaped. Its designer Brigadier Sir Frank Higginson ( a former Canadian Army officer) was secretary to the Imperial War Graves Commission for 37 years and was granted his wish to have his ashes (1958) scattered in the cemetery together with those of his wife Violet (1962). In May 2000 the remains of an unknown Canadian soldier were taken from Cabaret Rouge and laid to rest at the foot of the National War Memorial in the Canadian city of Ottawa. I was at Cabaret Rouge to visit the grave of Sgt Charles Herbert Langley of 110th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. He was killed in action on 4th May 1918 aged 22yrs. He received the Military Medal in 1917. The cemetery is set in beautiful countryside and hay was being baled. There were chestnut and spruce trees outside the boundary walls and small conical Yews within.

We next found ourselves at La Targette British cemetery to visit the grave of 2nd Lieutenant Walter William Gibbs of 1st Survey Coy. Royal Engineers. He died on 22nd April 1918 aged 30 years. His life prior to the war sounds to have been an interesting one. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and for two years he was a member of the Bolivian Boundary Commission. He went on to Mozambique and was engaged on survey work for three years. In 1917 he obtained permission from Portuguese East Africa to return to England to enlist. He married shortly prior to leaving for France. The cemetery is a small intimate one with 638 WW1 graves and 3 WW2 graves. We witnessed wonderful autumnal tree colour in woods beyond the cemetery.The little British cemetery was rather dwarfed by the neighbouring French National Cemetery. Here 11,443 WW1 graves are sited together with over 500 WW2 graves.

Arras was our next stop to visit Faubourg D’Amiens cemetery designed by Edwin Lutyens. Here we would pay homage to three brave men. Lieutenant Eyon GA Bowen was killed on 8th September 1916 aged 23years. He served with 22nd Squadron Royal Flying Corps and his name is inscribed on the Arras Flying Services Memorial. Incidentally his name appears on memorials at Whiteshill Common, Winterbourne All Saints Churchyard, on the Braidlea Shield (housed in St Mary Magdalene Church, Stoke Bishop), Sherborne School and Nevern War Memorial. His father, Eyon George Rice Bowen also died in the course of WW1 (26th March 1916 aged 52 years) and is buried in the churchyard at All Saints, Winterbourne. Bowen seniors name is to be found on the Whiteshill and Winterbourne church memorial together with his sons.

Close to the Flying Services Memorial I found Rifleman Albert Hughes’s name on the Arras Memorial. He served with the London Rifle Brigade and died aged 28yrs on 28th March 1918. His name could be find high on Stone 11 Bay Number 9. The white pillared bay felt very serene and peaceful.The Memorial commemorates 35,000 British, South African and New Zealand servicemen who have no known grave. Most were killed during the Battle of Arras (9th April-16th May 1917)

Lastly it was time to find the grave of Private Frederick Graham Amos who was killed in action whilst serving with 5th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment on 6th May 1917. His grave carried the inscription “Not gone from memory or love but gone to our father’s home above” Each letter for a personal inscription would have to have been paid for by a relative. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website carries records for inscriptions, burial details and a wealth of other information. This cemetery was really beautiful, unlike most other cemeteries its boundary walls were high, built of mellowed brick. Beyond the walls were large houses, and within, poplars and silver birch’s creating soft “borders” in front of the walls. It felt very tranquil and there was beautiful planting. The brick contrasted with the magnificence of the white marble Arras Memorial.

Our morning was drawing to a close, but not before a visit to Beurains Cemetery to visit the grave of Private Frederick Walker who prior to the war had worked as a labourer on a farm. He served with 6th Battalion, Somerset Regiment Light Infantry and died on 9th April 1917 aged 26yrs. This intimate little cemetery contains the graves of 317 British, 14 Canadian and 4 German servicemen. It was tucked in tightly by various farm buildings. It was another cemetery designed by Lutyens.

Our final port of call before heading for Switzerland was to visit the cemetery at Landrecies. Landrecies was the scene of a rearguard action in the retreat from Mons in August 1914. It was recaptured from the Germans in November 1918. This little cemetery contains the graves of 165 British soldiers who died in the last three months of 1918. When I came to the grave of William Luton I found it very poignant that he had been killed in action a mere 7 days before the Armistice. William had died on 4th November 1918 whilst serving with 1st/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, aged 22 years. The inscription on his grave read “He plucked the fairest flower and planted it in heaven”. The cemetery itself has a strong connection with the English town of Malvern due to the large number of soldiers from the area buried there. I loved this little cemetery, it was bordered on three sides by working allotments and there were dahlias, cabbages, zucchini and other crops to harvest. Within the low walled cemetery it was planted with four young cherry trees.

So, fifteen cemeteries visited, and twenty poppy crosses carefully placed during some really wonderful autumnal October sunshine. March 2018 will see Andyman and I attempt to visit the remaining fourteen cemeteries in France, paying homage to another seventeen servicemen whose names reside on the Whiteshill Common Memorial.

Au Revoir.

Sunrise Le Touret,Rocking Dog

Sunrise Le Touret

Pte Candy,Rocking Dog

Pte Candy

La Targette,Rocking Dog

La Targette

Another Cross,Rocking Dog

Another Cross

Flying Services Mem',Rocking Dog

Flying Services Mem’

Faubourg D'amiens,Rocking Dog

Faubourg D’amiens

Tucked Tightly,Rocking Dog

Tucked Tightly

German Graves,Rocking Dog

German Graves

Laid Together,Rocking Dog

Laid Together

The Remember Me Project – Remembrance Sunday 2017

Le Touret Cemetery,Rocking Dog

Le Touret Cemetery

As many of you will already know I am currently researching the WWI names on the Whiteshill Common Memorial in Hambrook. As the centenary of the end of WW1 approaches I am keen that the inscriptions on the memorial are “brought to life”. These names were sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, uncles, friends and fellow workers. Many of the fallen played cricket and football on the common, they attended school across the common, collected conkers, courted, ate picnics and participated in village life.

Following some initial research I decided somewhat rashly that I wanted to visit as many graves and memorials before the 2018 centenary. This is a post about my visit to France and Belgium. On this trip I visited the resting place/commemorative panel of 20 of those 53 sevicemen’s names on the Whiteshill Memorial.

Very naively I presumed that there were two or three huge cemeteries to bury/commemorate the war dead. How very wrong I was. There are indeed hundreds of cemeteries scattered across France, Belgium and further afield. In the course of this Remember Me Project I will eventually visit thirty one French and Belgian cemeteries. On this first visit in the course of a morning and afternoon I visited fifteen cemeteries and placed crosses on/by twenty graves/memorial plaques.

I used the Commonwealth Grave Commission website to plot and plan my visit to each cemetery. With their maps and grave/memorial references I wrote up a little plan of directions to reach each grave/memorial. Andyman and I then spent an evening plotting the sequencing of the cemeteries we planned to visit, pre-loading postcodes into the sat-nav. Poppies packed, we headed for le Shuttle. The Belgian cemeteries were those we visited first and it took very little time to reach Artillery Wood Cemetery following disembarkation at Calais. This cemetery was undergoing major restoration work to its boundary walls, but the graves remained undisturbed and with beautiful planting. Beyond the walls crops were growing, wind turbines were turning and life was simply going on. Percy Buckley of the Manchester Regiment was buried here (Feb 27th 1918 aged 20) My first cross was laid.

A visit to New Irish Farm Cemetery followed (Pte Charles Maggs Gloucestershire Regiment 27th August 1917 aged 32). Enlisting in Bristol this serviceman was killed in action at Ypres. The cemetery was named after a nearby farm, known to troops as Irish Farm. Pte Maggs’s front row grave overlooks fields, crops were being pulled and tractors were hard at work. Then it was onto Tynecot. Tynecot is the largest Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery in the world. It is the resting place of 11,900 WW1 British Empire servicemen. Many of those buried there fell at Passchendaele. Meanwhile the Tynecot Memorial commemorates nearly 35,000 UK and NZ servicemen who died after August 1917 and whose graves are not known. Firstly I placed a cross on the grave of Pte Sidney T Marks, Royal Berkshire Regiment 1st August 1917 aged 27. Then there were three names to find on the memorial panels Pte George H. Andrews, Gloucestershire Regiment, 23rd August 1917, Pte George Biggs,Gloucestershire Regiment, 9th October 1917 and Lt.Colonel James Hugh Coles D.S.O, 1st Battalion East Yorkshire Regiment, 24th April 1917 aged 33yrs. Tynecot was preparing for the New Zealand National Commemoration for the Battle of Passchendaele in its centennial year. 520 New Zealanders are buried at Tynecot whilst many more are commemorated on the memorial.The cemetery looked beautiful with roses in shades of deep red, pink and an amazing orange colour. Soldiers & Sailors, Geranium, spiky grasses, pinks, sedum, auricula’s, Elephant ears also provided botanical interest for all year round colour. On the grassy banks leading into cemetery British Legion poppies had been planted with poignant personal messages and would remain there for 101 days.

The lovely cemetery at Hooge Crater was next on my visit list. Hooge Crater was the site of a chateau and stables and the area saw very fierce fighting throughout WW1. Pte Clifford Percy Lloyd who served with the Machine Gun Corps is buried here and was killed in action on 22nd August 1917 aged 19 yrs. The cemetery looked beautiful with lavender balls and young Silver Birch trees. Beyond the low boundary walls cabbages were being grown and cows were grazing. As we walked back up towards the Cross of Sacrifice a group of New Zealanders were singing a lament. It really bought a lump to my throat.

Bedford House Cemetery was a very naturalistic cemetery to visit, with a bullrush lined stream, little bridges, lily pads and what appeared to be a grassy bunker. Beyond the low boundary walls cows grazed and tractors ploughed the rich earth. The cemetery is the resting place of Pte Arthur Young who was killed in action on 21st September 1917 whilst serving with the Gloucestershire Regiment. Prior to enlisting Arthur was employed as a labourer on a golf course near Bristol.

Another cross was laid at Wytschaete Cemetery for Pte William Harmer who was killed in action on 7th June 1917 aged 25yrs whilst serving with the Worcestershire Regiment. The inscription on his grave read “I shall go to him but he will not return to me mother” This cemetery had a lovely backdrop of evergreen and deciduous woodland and the cemetery felt very much part of the village.

Merville Cemetery saw me lay a cross on the grave of Pte Francis Albert Cox who died on the 8th July 1918. He served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and a war diary reported that on 8th July fourteen were killed and sixteen were wounded by an aerial bomb. It is likely that Pte Cox was one of those casualties. The Commonwealth grave cemetery is situated right next to the Merville town cemetery. Compared to the towering and rather macabre black granite graves the serenity and simplicity of the white Commonwealth graves was rather lovely.

The final cemetery visit for Day 1 was to visit the grave of Pte Percy Jones who lies in Rue du Bacquerot-13th London. We initially mistakenly visited another Rue du Bacquerot cemetery (No 1), one without the prefix 13th London. However our mistake led us to the sweetest cemetery with farm track in between its two halves. One section contained the graves of Indian soldiers, there was a predominance of sweet scented pink roses and the graves were carved with Indian script. It was charming. Further down the road we found Percy’s resting place. This cemetery was small and intimate with less than 200 Commonwealth graves. Pte Jones died on 16th April 1916 aged 24yrs whilst serving with 10th Battalion South Wales Borderers.

It was time to rest our weary heads after this 1st day whistle-stop tour. Many thanks to Andyman for all the twists and turns in the road and for finding all the cemeteries.

My account of the 2nd day of cemetery visits will appear in a further post this week. If any relatives would like photo’s of graves/cemeteries please do not hesitate to get in touch. I would also like to appeal at this point for any information that could be useful for The Remember Me Project. I really would like to try and build a picture of the lives of these servicemen before and during the time they were called up to fight for their country. Perhaps too, any interested parties could contact me to register their interest in a Rocking Dog Vintage Tea planned for Sunday November 11th 2018. Please email me, lizferg@btinternet.com

Thank you.

We will especially remember them this Remembrance Sunday.

Whiteshill Memorial,Rocking Dog

Whiteshill Memorial

Plotting & Planning,Rocking Dog

Plotting & Planning

Precious Cargo,Rocking Dog

Precious Cargo

20 Crosses,Rocking Dog

20 Crosses

Tynecot Poppies,Rocking Dog

Tynecot Poppies

Name Upon Name,Rocking Dog

Name Upon Name

La Targette Cemetery,Rocking Dog

La Targette Cemetery

Buried Together,Rocking Dog

Buried Together

Life Goes On Over The Wall,Rocking Dog

Life Goes On Over The Wall

The Rocking Dog Remember Me Project

Remember Me,Rocking Dog

Remember Me

Real Live Rocking Dog and I have been walking together for a glorious ten years now. Many of our walks have taken us close to the war memorial on Whiteshill Common, Hambrook. I have often stopped and looked at the names on the edifice, many of the surnames have seemed very familiar to me. Having been brought up in a village close by I have more than likely rubbed shoulders in years gone by with the sons, nephews, grandsons and maiden aunts etc.. of those commemorated on the memorial.

For a while now I have been wanting to research those 53 WW1 names on the memorial to link in with next years Armistice centenary. Then my plans became more bold, I decided I wanted to visit the graves/memorials of these fallen soldiers. The challenge has begun.

As we are heading through France and Belgium next month I have started to research the resting places of all those inscribed names. I am ashamed to say I was incredibly naive to think that the majority of these servicemen would be in a couple of cemeteries. Thus far I will need to visit 18 French cemeteries and 2 in Belgium. There are some Commonwealth graves in local churchyards and one that I will visit in the Rhondda, Wales. Others are off limits due to their location or security risk (Iraq (formerly Mesopotamia), Azerbajan, Israel, Gallipoli and Greece). The biggest of the cemeteries I need to visit is the Thiepval Memorial with over 72,000 casualties. Meanwhile other cemeteries to visit have only 100 or so casualties. I am wondering which I am going to be most moved by, the enormity of Thiepval or the intimacy of the smaller cemeteries. Thiepval is the largest Commonwealth Memorial to the missing in the world. Most of those commemorated there died during the Somme Offensive of 1916.

I have been using Ancestry.co.uk, the Commonwealth Graves Commission site and local archives (including Frenchay Museum) to conduct my research. The research has led me to war memorial plaques at Marlborough College and the Australian War Memorial. It has also uncovered stories of the near blind villager who knitted a large quantity of woollen mittens and socks for those in the trenches at Gallipoli. There are stories of a villager housing many Belgian refugees and other locals who were instrumental in organising & sending out Christmas parcels to the soldiers of the villages. These parcels were an amazing morale boost for the men at the front. Others nursed at a temporary hospital tending the wounded, whilst others managed poultry to lay eggs for the patients.

As 2018 beckons I want to start compiling A4 sheets (which will be laminated) of the lives and deaths of these soldiers. With the current householders’ permissions I hope to attach one of these “Remember Me” sheets to a door or gate where the soldier was bought up, schooled, worshipped or worked. I will hopefully be able to track down photo’s and personalise each history. These soldiers will simply not be allowed to be just a name on a war memorial. Thank you to kind friends who are knitting poppies to attach to the histories. Pretty please sometime later I would love to buddy up with anyone who has a super duper laminator!

I am hoping that the culmination of all this will be a vintage tea next November. The icing on the cake would be if ancestors of those commemorated came to pay tribute to their relative, and of course to eat Rocking Dog cake.

I include photo’s of my Great Aunt Susan who was called up to be a nurse with the Expeditionary Force in the first few days of the war. Another photo shows my two great uncles, one of whom (David Cresser) served in Gallipoli with the Anzacs. He also had the honour of raising the Union Flag in German occupied Samoa. Finally another photo shows my Grandfather John Warrington Scott (top right, bit of a lad!) He served with Royal Engineers and was very badly gassed in the trenches. Thankfully all these relatives returned home to Scotland and New Zealand.

Have you got relatives who served in WW1? As the 2018 centenary beckons let us Remember Them.

Have a good week and stay cosy, autumn seems to have arrived! Love Rocking Dog x

 War Memorial Rocking Dog

War Memorial,

Frenchay Church,Rocking Dog

Frenchay Church

Commonwealth Grave,Rocking Dog

Commonwealth Grave

Royal Engineer Grandfather,Rocking Dog

Royal Engineer Grandfather

My Great Uncles WW1,Rocking Dog

My Great Uncles WW1

Gt Aunt Susan WW1, France,Rocking Dog

Gt Aunt Susan WW1, France