Tag Archives: Whiteshill Memorial

A Birthday Spent In A Welsh Cemetery

Sad Reading, Burial Plot For Four,Rocking Dog

Sad Reading, Burial Plot For Four

No, I really didn’t mind spending part of my birthday in a cemetery… honest! I was so pleased to be laying my last poppy for “The Remember Me Project”. Of course I could decide that I want to head to Basra, Baku, Beersheba, The Gaza Strip, and Gallipoli… but that’s perhaps for another day.

My brain has been pretty tangled trying to seek out Driver John Noble Winters grave. Born in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire on 12th April 1881 he was one of a large family born to Frank and Eleanor Winter. In the 1901 Census he is 19 and living in Wales. He is boarding with the Britton family. William Britton, originally from Frampton Cotterell, Gloucestershire is an underground colliery haulier and I suspect may have secured John Winter his job at the mine as a coal hewer (miner).

By the 1911 census John, 29 is married to local Ystrad girl Louisa (nee Parsons) 33. From the census he has been married for 8 years. The household consists of John, Louisa and three children, Charles Henry 7, Emily Eva 4 and Elizabeth Mary 1. They were living in Ystrad, Glamorganshire. John was still working as a coal miner hewer.

As a miner John would have been in a reserved occupation, however mining was incredibly tough and many miners relished the prospect of enlisting. I know that John Winter enlisted at Pentre but at present I do not know when this occurred. He served with the Royal Field Artillery (Service No W5046). At some point he was wounded in France and was shipped back to the UK. Again, it requires more investigation as to how long he was back in the UK before he died.

He died on 17th April 1916 at the Woolwich Military Hospital (Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects (Entry 275813) and was transported back to Wales for burial. He was buried on the 21st April 1916 in Trealaw Cemetery. The plot had already been purchased when John was interred. His son Francis (Oct 1910-Oct 1910) and daughter Ann Ellen (Apr 1914-Apr 1914) had already been buried in the plot (Plot 0387) Later, another daughter Emily Eva would join her father and siblings in the same plot (July 1906- Dec 1921)

With a rough outline of John Winters family life and somewhat sketchy military details it was time to seek out his grave. Somehow I managed to arrive at a different cemetery (Glyntaff) but  the mistake proved to be a godsend! The cemetery has an office which holds all the records for all the cemeteries in the area. The lovely Nadine was really helpful and bought out huge burial registers and I was able to see the Winter entries. She also then very kindly printed out plans of Trealaw cemetery and warned me that it was huge!

We travelled a few miles and we arrived in Trealaw the longest town in the Rhonnda. Nadine you were right – the cemetery was enormous and we needed your plans. In fact the cemetery is roughly a mile long end to end. A real whistle stop tour, the headstones in the cemetery tell the story of mining disasters, lung disease, child mortality, Italian ice cream and war. There are 158 WW1 and WW2 Commonwealth graves in the cemetery, John Winters grave being one of them.

Using the plan I was able to locate Driver Winters’ grave on a steep grassy hillside in the right hand corner of the cemetery. His grave (Plot 0387) had views over to an opposing hillside dotted with sheep and scars of quarrying and mining. It was somehow reminiscent of “How Green Was My Valley”. Behind the headstone the hillside continued and interrupted by a Scots pine which seemed stunted by harsh winters and chill winds blowing through the valley.

I laid my 45th poppy and thought about John Winter lying there in his adopted homeland with three of his children. We seem to think a war grave is just that, but in this case it tells a story of the harsh realities of fleeting fatherhood and child mortality. A life beyond the battlefield.

It was now time to find Johns wife Louisa and a grown up son who are buried in the same cemetery. According to Nadines’ plans they were to be found at the opposite end of the cemetery (yes literally a mile away!) On this one I had to use my best orienteering skills to locate the grave. I somehow wished that the numbers of the plot areas were clearly marked. You had to judge the areas by the shape and tiers of graves whilst comparing the plan. I think I found Louisa’s burial place (Plot D1314), an unmarked grassy “bed”. Louisa died in December 1949 at the age of 72 years (buried 29th December 1949). Her son Charles Henry Winter who died in Chipping Sodbury is also interred there and died in January 1946 (buried 11 January 1946). I felt so sad stood thinking of Louisa, two wars, widowhood, the grime of mining, and more than anything the loss of her children. Apart from the four offspring in the two graves another child Elizabeth Ann died aged 2 days in 1909 and is in an unmarked plot in the cemetery. I wonder how Louisa felt about her “lot”, a very hard life. I laid a poppy for Louisa and family, she was so near and yet so far from the grave of her husband and infant children. It was very poignant.

I am hopeful that this giant jigsaw of piecing together census’s, military records, local archives (Parish magazine reporting John Nobles death) etc… is accurate. Little discrepancy’s with age and records with no mention of his middle name have made this a difficult search.

Please contact me if you know different.

Plots and plans continue for my creation of a WW1 Flower Show table which will be “unveiled” at Frenchay Flower Show on 14th July. I’ll be there with the lovely Sally Stanley and her Parcels of Comfort exhibit.

 

 

John's Wife & Son,Rocking Dog

John’s Wife & Son

Burial Tome,Rocking Dog

Burial Tome

Cross Of Sacrifice,Rocking Dog

Cross Of Sacrifice

On Home Soil,Rocking Dog

On Home Soil

Cross For John,Rocking Dog

Cross For John

Green Valley,Rocking Dog

Green Valley

Scots Pine,Rocking Dog

Scots Pine

So Near..Yet So Far,Rocking Dog

So Near..Yet So Far

Welcome Colour,Rocking Dog

Welcome Colour

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