Tag Archives: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

The Remember Me Project, Closer To Home

Please Remember Me, Rocking Dog

Please Remember Me

Rocking Dog has been quietly working away on The Remember Me Project researching all the WW1 names on the Whiteshill Memorial, Hambrook. In between looking at museum archives, Ancestry, local history books and The Commonwealth War Graves Commission site I have also been out and about!

There have been graves to visit in three local churchyards. Real Live Rocking Dog has accompanied me on these trips and watched me lay six more poppy crosses.

All Saints Church, Winterbourne was my first port of call to visit two graves. The first I found easily, that of George Fitz Worlock. A Guardsman in the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards he died on 19th November 1914 at Manchester Royal Infirmary from wounds he sustained at Ypres.

Between 1914-1918 520 beds at the Manchester Royal Infirmary were allocated to the War Office. Over 10,000 service personnel were treated during this period. Incidentally in 1918 a centre was opened at the hospital specifically to deal with Venereal Disease. The centre treated more than 837 people in the year it opened. I do not know how many of these were servicemen but Venereal Disease was a sizeable problem in troops serving abroad. In 1918 there were over 60,000 admissions for VD in France and Flanders but only 74,711 admissions of the well publicised Trench Foot for the entirety of the war in France and Flanders. Many soldiers risked the brothels knowing that a case of Syphilis or Gonorrhoea could excuse them from the front line.

Guardsman George Fitz Worlock (14198) was repatriated to England with his injuries and disembarked on 6th October 1914. He died little more than a month later on the 19th November 1914. He was buried in the churchyard not far from the place where he lived with his wife Lottie (nee Malpass). They had married in Bristol on 7th December 1913. It was poignant to see that Lottie shared the same grave plot and had remained a widow until she died in July 1971 at the age of 86. George had enlisted with the Grenadier Guards in January 1909. Prior to this he is listed as being a carter. As a professional soldier he would have been one of the first expected to fight for King and Country. I am presuming that a family dealing with a serviceman’s death on home soil could choose whether they wanted a Portland Stone Commonwealth war grave headstone or at their own expense a headstone of their choosing. The Worlock family chose an imposing Celtic style cross in local Pennant stone. When I laid my poppy there were drifts of cow parsley and a border planted with wallflowers, marigolds, and a silvery leaved curry plant. Mature holly trees, a cherry and other native trees provided nesting for sweet singing birds.

The other grave in this churchyard proved more difficult to find. I was helped to locate the grave by a really helpful church warden. On the top tier and far corner of the cemetery I found the grave of Eynon George Rice Bowen. A Captain in the Remounts he died on 26th March 1916  aged 52. Interestingly he does not appear on the Commonwealth Graves Commission site. Details of his death are fairly sketchy but I have recently stumbled upon an archive which will be useful in researching his life. Not only did he serve in the Great War but the Boer War too. The Army Remount Service was the body responsible for the purchase and training of horses and mules as remounts for the British Army. A large depot existed in Shirehampton, near Bristol which dealt with animals being shipped from overseas (predominantly USA and Canada)

In the Frenchay Parish magazine of March 1916 it states:- Alterations to Frenchay Roll of Honour. Captain Eynon GR Bowen whose serious illness we all deeply deplore, and for whom our prayers are asked, is of the Remounts not of the ASC (Army Service Corps). In April’s Parish Magazine Captain Eynon GR Bowen’s burial is reported. Just 5 months later his son Lieut. Eynon George Arthur Bowen is killed, shot down by German ace Oswald Boelcke (the flier who trained the Red Baron).

Father and son are both commemorated on the Whiteshill Memorial. Meanwhile Eynon Bowen senior is laid to rest at All Saints, Winterbourne Down and Eynon Bowen junior is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services Memorial, France. The grave in Winterbourne mentions Eynon Bowen junior and it is also the resting place of Georgina Catherine Bowen, the wife of Eynon George Rice who died on 15th December 1945 aged 82. Mrs Bowen was a very active member of the community serving on a number of wartime committees. Their daughter Dorothea was a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment and provided nursing care at Cleve Hill Hospital.

Eynon GR Bowen’s grave sits in a beautiful spot with far reaching views to Bristol, and over less distant fields to the family home “Harcombes”, Hambrook. When I came to lay my poppy there was wild lilac, bluebells, buttercups and a leafy canopy. Only the sound of birdsong broke the silence of this beautiful pastoral setting.

One grave needed to be visited in St Peter’s Churchyard, Frampton Cotterell. Gunner John Stuart Rymer (120959) served with the Royal Garrison Artillery and actually died a long time after WW1 had ended  (3rd October 1921). His inclusion on the memorial is a little bit of an anomaly. The War Graves Commission only commemorate those who have died during the designated war years whilst in Commonwealth military service or of causes attributable to service. Death in service included not only those killed in combat but other causes such as those who died in training accidents, air raids and due to disease such as the 1918 flu pandemic. In the case of WW1 the period of consideration was 4th August 1914 to 31st August 1921. Gunner Rymer’s death fell outside this criteria. He does not feature on the Commonwealth Graves Commission site.

In the Parish magazine of October 1921 it states that John Rymer died for his country as a result of wounds received during the Great War.

A pupil of Bristol Grammar School between 1907-1912 there is a little film on the Schools site about a visit to John Rymer’s grave. He is to be found in the churchyard in a grouping of three almost identical crosses. One is a grave for John, another for his brother Arthur (who died aged 30 in 1930) and the third cross is for their mother Emily who died in 1906. According to records their father John who died in 1928 is also buried in the plot. One mystery is as to where John’s second wife is buried (he married Emily’s sister Kate)

The local circuit was completed with a visit to St John The Baptist Church in Frenchay. I know this church well, it was where I was christened, confirmed  and married. Added to which there were numerous nativities, harvest festivals, plays at the church that both myself and …..much later our children took part in. I was here to visit three graves in the churchyard.

Private Frank George Amos (204205) served with the 7th Worcesters Reserve Battalion (transferred to 526th Area Employment Company, Labour Corps). He died on December 17th 1918 aged 29yrs. He was the son of Albert (d. 1915) and Emily (d.1919) who ran The Crown public house in Hambrook. It is unclear why Frank and his brother Frederick are commemorated on the Winterbourne Down panel of the Whiteshill memorial and yet the Amos family burials are at Frenchay. The Amos brothers are also named on the war memorial at All Saints Church Winterbourne Down. Franks brother Frederick was killed in action in 1917 aged 21 and we visited his grave at Faubourg D’amiens Cemetery, Arras last year.

Franks resting place is to be found in a shady spot in the churchyard with drifts of cow parsley, brambles, baby blue eyes and a canopy of mature trees. Frank lies in the plot with his mother and father. Meanwhile his brother Frederick is also commemorated on the grave.

A Portland stone Commonwealth grave was found in a different part of the graveyard. This grave belongs to Driver Arthur George Criddle (18245) who served with the Royal Field Artillery (A Bty 109th Brigade). Arthur died at home on 28th August 1917 (though there are some discrepancies with the date of death) aged 23 years. In November 1915 the Frenchay parish magazine reports that Arthur is in hospital, and in September 1916 he has been discharged and given an Army pension. He died after a very long illness  and many people attended his funeral on 2nd September 1917. One of a large family, another of the Criddle brothers (William Ewart) died in February 1917 in Mesopotamia (now Iraq)

Finally there was the grave of a Royal Flying Corps officer to find. With views over Frenchay Common Captain Harry Wadlow’s grave enjoys a lovely spot. Harry was accidentally killed on May 1st 1917 whilst flying near Dartford, Kent. A past pupil of Bristol Grammar School he was a brilliant sportsman. He joined the Army Service Corps after leaving school in 1914 and in September 1916 the Frenchay parish magazine reported that Harry had transferred to the Royal Flying Corps. He began a course of flying instruction in a de Havilland DH2. These aircraft were constructed of wood, fabric and wire, it had a maximum speed of 86mph and was fitted with a machine gun.

Harry was an only child, his mother Laura had died when he was six. His father, Henry Wadlow was headmaster at Frenchay School. The school was closed on the day of Harry’s funeral (May 7th) so that the children could attend and he was buried with full military honours. Harry was laid to rest in the same plot as his mother.

So, this completes the poppy laying for The Remember Me Project in England. 44 graves/memorials of the 53 inscribed names have now been visited. Wales is my next port of call to visit the grave of a miner who left the valleys for the front.

One Of Brothers,Rocking Dog

One Of Brothers

Commonwealth Grave,Rocking Dog

Commonwealth Grave

An Amos Brother,Rocking Dog

An Amos Brother

Poppy For Harry,Rocking Dog

Poppy For Harry

Common Views,Rocking Dog

Common Views

Worlock Grave,Rocking Dog

Worlock Grave

1921 Casualty,Rocking Dog

1921 Casualty

Mother & Sons,Rocking Dog

Mother & Sons

Home View,Rocking Dog

Home View

The Remember Me Project, France & Belgium 2018 Continued.

The One We Missed,Rocking Dog

The One We Missed

Day one of The Remember Me Project in France saw us visit eleven cemeteries over a couple of hundred miles. We also popped into a twelfth cemetery on behalf of my lovely neighbour Molly. Her uncle had been killed very close to the end of the war and is buried at Anneux British Cemetery. We popped into the roadside cemetery to pay our respects and lay a poppy for Sgt Arthur Walter Rich who died on 28th September 1918 aged 20years.

Driving towards our accommodation for the night there was the awful realisation that I had missed out one of the cemeteries, oops! Though over an hours drive away and adding to the already long journey to Switzerland Andy offered to retrace our footsteps in the morning. We spent the night in a place called Cagnoncles and then ventured out early the following morning to head to the missed out cemetery, Villers Bretonneux Military Cemetery. We arrived there so early I had to climb over a low gate to lay my poppy for Pte Thomas Richardson. He was serving with 2nd/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment when he was killed in action on 31st March 1918. The cemetery is impressive as it also “houses” the Australian National Memorial. The cemetery and memorial is set on a hill with far reaching views over the French countryside. The cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and incorporates some impressive entrance buildings. The cemetery and memorial were created after the Armistice when graves were brought in from small burial grounds and from the battlefields. The cemetery itself is planted with symmetrically aligned trees and a beech hedge, it felt very peaceful and the views astounding. Over 2,000 servicemen are laid to rest here including two New Zealand pilots from WW2. A new museum, The Sir John Monash Centre is due to open here very shortly.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit the impressive Australian Memorial. It commemorates nearly 11,000 Australian servicemen with no known grave, their names being inscribed on walls surrounding the tower. The tower can be climbed, although in windy weather entry to the tower is restricted. On 25th April each year an Anzac Day dawn service takes place by the memorial.

We then re-tracked back to our pre-planned course and headed back towards St Quentin to visit Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery. We were here to visit the grave of Pte Henry George Harmer who served with 6th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. He died aged 19yrs on 21st March 1918. Originally he had been buried elsewhere but was laid to rest (identified by his identification disc) at Grand Seraucourt British Cemetery. The cemetery was set up from a country lane in view of fields and a large hay barn. Henry’s grave was planted with succulents and herbaceous plants, lots of colour to look forward to. At the entrance to the cemetery there was an impressive bank of deep pink heather.

We then journeyed for nearly 2 hours to La Ferte-sous-Jouarre 66km from Paris. We were here to visit the memorial in the town which commemorates 3,740 Officers and men who served with the British Expeditionary Force. These were men who died (many dying at the Battle of Mons) between August and October 1914 with no known grave. Sgt Charles Blair Godwin had a very short war. He left England with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers as part of 4th Division on August 22nd 1914 and was dead by 26th August 1914. The report of his death states Sgt Godwin’s Coy (B Coy) was heavily engaged in the Battle of Le Cateau on August 26th covering the retirement of other troops. Orders to retire themselves never reached them, and by the evening they were closely surrounded by enemy. An attempt to break through with the bayonet was made, and Godwin fell fighting in this charge. Charles Godwin lived in Frenchay with his family in a large house called Woodfield. According to the 1901 census the family employed four live in servants. Now partitioned into two homes, one of them is Lake House. Our daughter and now son in law were lucky enough to be offered the garden for their wedding reception by friends who live there now. In the 1901 census Charles is 16 and an army Student. He attended Marlborough College from 1898-1900 and the college holds much information and photographs on the ex-pupils who served and died for their country.

The La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial is impressive and under extensive restoration.It was designed by George Hartley Goldsmith who was initially assistant draughtsman to Sir Edwin Lutyens before going on to be an architect in his own right. He designed 67 cemeteries including the co-design of Villers Brettoneux Military Cemetery & Memorial. Thankfully, I was able to find Sgt Godwin’s name and took photographs through the barrier. A poppy cross was left by the War Stone in his honour.

The cemetery dash was over this side of the trip. Switzerland and beyond!

Our journey home saw us visit the very last of our Whiteshill Memorial WW1 names, (at least the ones in France and Belgium). Before departing for the Euro Tunnel we headed to Ypres. We needed to find Edward Lewis’s name in amongst the 55,000 inscriptions on the Menin Gate. William (Edward) was born on 20th December 1895 in Winterbourne. In the 1911 census Edward is 15yrs and an assistant gardener. He is living with his mother Annie and stepfather Edwin together with six siblings/step siblings. A mere 4 years later Edward has been killed whilst serving with the North Somerset Yeomanry. We found his name high up on a panel on the memorial. He was watching down on the cobbled road which cars now rattle through. It is likely that Edward would have marched the same road out onto the battlefields. It is an incredibly moving monument and one evidently well visited. Poppy wreath’s covered steps and staircases. Wreaths from schools, universities, regiments, countries, industries and individuals each regaling how these servicemen will never be forgotten.

Between October 1914 and September 1918 hundreds of thousands of troops marched through the Menin Gate and the town of Ypres to the battlefields of Flanders. The Menin Gate Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Flanders. It was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and based on a concept of Triumphal Arch and central hall. It was built between 1923-27 and includes the inscription written by Rudyard Kipling “To the Armies of the British Empire who stood here from 1914-1918 and to those of their dead who have no known grave”

After placing a poppy for Edward at the bottom of the panel (Bay 5 Stone L) where he is commemorated I had a little stroll in Ypres. It is difficult to comprehend that most of the town is less than 100 years old. It was completely destroyed in WW1 and much thought was given to leave the town as it was to signify the destruction of war and act as a poignant memorial. However in the event it was decided to completely rebuild the town exactly as it was. Therefore the Cathedral, Cloth Hall and other important buildings were built to look identical to their shelled predecessors. Cobbled roads and railway tracks were relaid. A place of pilgrimage from the earliest post war days, Ypres is buzzy and offers cafe’s, places to stay, shops and historic tours. I definitely would love to return to Ypres and I want to be there to hear the Last Post which is bugled every evening at 8pm at the Menin Gate. The Last Post has been sounded there since 1928 and only in WW2 was this nightly ceremony interrupted. For the duration The Last Post was played at Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey. Ypres was occupied by the Germans from 20th May 1940 until 6th September 1944 and the evening the Allies took back the city was the night that The Last Post sounded again despite heavy fighting outside the city boundaries.

So, with Pte Edward Lewis’s poppy finally laid, my pilgrimage to France and Belgium was complete. 38 poppies laid in/at 32 cemeteries/memorials over approximately 5 days. It has been an amazing privilege to pay homage to these local heroes, many of them teenagers. I have been in awe of the beauty and individuality of the cemeteries and memorials I visited. They each had a very special unique feel and most enjoyed the beauty of life going on outside the boundaries of cemetery walls and hedges. I particularly loved the cemeteries with working farms, allotments and busy little towns going on around them. Without exception the cemeteries were beautifully kept with thoughtful seasonal planting, trees and with a nod to nature. I will always remember the New Zealanders’ lament at Hooge and the noisy cockerel at Ribecourt.

Special thanks must go to Andy for driving hundreds of miles to facilitate this project. Sometimes the atmosphere was fraught with wrong turns, mud, traffic, an inaccurate sat’-nav’ and even more inaccurate and perfectly hopeless navigator! I really appreciate you helping me with this journey, and I know for a fact you’d rather be following your team around Europe rather than following WW1 ghosts. Thank you from the bottom of my rusty old heart! Thanks too to Real Live Rocking Dog for being Sooo patient. PS. I just daren’t bring up the subject of all those WW2 names on the memorial.

So. The big question now is what to do with all this information, research, photographs etc.. I am keen to do something really meaningful for the community with it. We will indeed Remember Them.

……………………………..

As the weekend stretches out in front of us I am thinking of servicemen and women who are currently serving for our country in somewhat uncertain times.

Thanks for getting to the end of this rather long post.

Liz aka Rocking Dog x

Australian Memorial,Rocking Dog

Australian Memorial

Striking Entrance,Rocking Dog

Striking Entrance

Poppy For Henry,Rocking Dog

Poppy For Henry

La Ferte sous Jouarre,Rocking Dog

La Ferte sous Jouarre

Charles Blair Godwin,Rocking Dog

Charles Blair Godwin

Poppy For Sgt Godwin,Rocking Dog

Poppy For Sgt Godwin

Menin Gate, Ypres,Rocking Dog

Menin Gate, Ypres

54,000 Names,Rocking Dog

54,000 Names

Not Forgotten,Rocking Dog

Not Forgotten

8pm Invite,Rocking Dog

8pm Invite

Life Continues, Ypres,Rocking Dog

Life Continues, Ypres

Sign, Ypres. Rocking Dog

Sign, Ypres.

The 11th Hour Of The 11th Day Of The 11th Month

Poignant Somme Symbolism, Rocking Dog

Poignant Somme Symbolism

Armistice Day has been commemorated for the last 98 years on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It marks the day when the Armistice was signed at Compiegne, France between the allies of WW1 and Germany. It brought about the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front.

Beginning in 1939 the two minute silence was moved to the closest Sunday to 11th November. This decision was taken so as not to disrupt wartime munition production if 11th November fell on a weekday. After WW2 this Sunday was named Remembrance Day or Remembrance Sunday.

The Poppy worn in the lead up to, and on Remembrance Sunday itself came about as a result of the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lt. Colonel John McCrae. A Canadian doctor, he was inspired to write the poem in 1915 after losing a friend at Ypres. The bleak battle torn ground was barren, but he witnessed resilient scarlet poppies struggling through the churned and barbed fields. Later an American academic Moina Michael, started making silk poppies which were brought over to England by a French woman Anna Guerin. In 1921 the British Legion was founded, and the organisation that year ordered 9 million poppies. The sale of these poppies raised a staggering £106,000, helping veterans with housing and employment.

Yesterday I went to College Green in Bristol to see the installation of “Shrouds of the Somme”. I witnessed servicemen meticulously laying out 19,240 12inch shrouded figures. The number represents the allied servicemen who died on the very first day of the Battle of the Somme. Somerset artist Rob Heard made the figures and personally wrapped and bound each figure with a hand stitched shroud. Studying a list from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission he systematically worked through the 19,240 fatalities, crossing off each name as a figurine had been given its shroud. Though I didn’t witness the exhibit in its entirety, it was truly poignant. The “Shrouds of the Somme” remains in Bristol until the 18th November.

Driving away from College Green I happened to notice that poor old Queen Victoria sited outside The Bristol Royal Marriot Hotel had been given a rubber gas mask by some joker. From experience she’s the butt of many a prank, for a student city we are!!

Today I will be remembering my grandfather John Warrington Scott (Royal Engineers) who was badly gassed in the trenches during WW1. As a consequence of the gas he died from stomach cancer aged 46 on Armistice Day 1941. Also remembering my lovely mum who died 31 years ago today. On a happier note Happy Birthday to lovely niece Iona who slipped out into the world on the bathroom floor 17 years ago today!

Shrouds Of The Somme, Rocking Dog

Shrouds Of The Somme

3 Of The 19,240, Rocking Dog

3 Of The 19,240

Gas Masked Royal, Rocking Dog

Gas Masked Royal

Grandfather John W. Scott, Rocking Dog

Grandfather John W. Scott

My Mum, Rocking Dog

My Mum

Niece Iona, Rocking Dog

Niece Iona