Category: Military

William Ratcliffe VC. MM.

William Ratclifffe (18/01/1884 – 26/03/1963), was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 14 June 1917 at Messines, Belgium, 

The Citation, published in the London Gazette of Supplement: 30215 Page: 7907, reads:

“No. 2251 Pte. William Ratcliffe, S. Lane. E. For most conspicuous bravery.
After an enemy’s trench had been captured, Pte. Ratcliffe located an enemy machine gun which was firing on his comrades from the rear, whereupon, single handed and on his own initiative, he immediately, rushed the machine gun position and bayoneted the crew. He then brought the gun back into action in the front line. 

This very gallant soldier has displayed great resource on previous occasions, and has set an exceptionally fine example of devotion to duty.”

He is commemorated on the Liverpool Heroes Statue in Abercromby Square in Liverpool

Liverpool Heroes Statue. Inscription

And there is a Commemorative Plaque for him at the Hall of Remembrance in Liverpool City Hall

Commemorative Plaque, Hall of Remembrance, Liverpool City Hall

Outside the Hall of Remembrance is a framed list of names that are connected to Liverpool and he is also listed on it.

A paving stone was unveiled for him at the Liverpool Parish Church on 15 June 2017. 

William Ratcliffe VC. MM. died on 26 March 1963, and is  buried in  Allerton Cemetery in Liverpool.

DRW © 2018. Created 20/06/2018

Updated: 20/06/2018 — 18:55

Liverpool Hall of Remembrance

When I first saw the City Hall in Liverpool I asked myself whether there was a war memorial in it, and naturally it sometimes helps if you go and ask…

I was not disappointed.

Known as The Hall of Remembrance, it was opened by the Duke of Windsor, then Prince of Wales, in 1921 and contains the City’s Roll of Honour.

The Roll of Honour has the names of over 13,000 servicemen men from Liverpool who died during the First World War, with the majority of those named having served in what was then formally known as “The King’s (Liverpool Regiment)” which had many battalions, 

Bell from HMS Liverpool

Eight lunette fresco panels painted by Sir Frank Salisbury (1874 – 1962) decorate the walls and were unveiled by the Duke of York in July 1923. They represent scenes headed Infancy, Duty’s Call, Sacrifice, Immortality, Renown, Remembrance, Triumph, The Silent Watch,  Undaunted, Sea Power, Conquering the Air, and Peace. The area is also decorated with heraldic devices, military badges and symbols representing the Allied Nations.

It is a very beautiful space and worth seeing if you are in Liverpool. 

I asked to see the Noel Chavasse VC entry in the roll and it was there, as are a number of other Liverpool VC holders. 

The building also has a “Chavasse Room” and there is a framed VC list outside the room.

There is also a plaque dedicated to William Radcliffe VC., MM. presumably rescued from elsewhere. 

The City Hall is a very beautiful building in its own and dates back to the late 1700’s.  It is really a ceremonial building rather than an administrative building, 

The ground floor contains the city’s Council Chamber and a Hall of Remembrance for the Liverpool servicemen killed in the First World War. The upper floor consists of a suite of lavishly decorated rooms which are used for a variety of events and functions. 

More images of the interior of the building are available at the Town Hall Website, and I have used some of the text from the website in this post.

Special thanks to the gentlemen who we so kind as to show me the hall and permit me to get a quick glimpse of that part of the building. Thanks guys. 

DRW © 2018. Created 16/06/2018

Updated: 16/06/2018 — 19:14

Liverpool Naval Memorial

Liverpool Naval Memorial may be found on the Mersey River Bank between the Ferry Terminal  and the Museum of Liverpool. (GPS co-ordinates: 53.40349, -2.99659). There are 1408 identified casualties from the Second World War  on the memorial. 

The memorial was designed by C. Blythin and S.H. Smith and was unveiled by the Admiral of the Fleet, The Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, K.T., G.C.B., O.M., D.S.O., on the 12th November 1952.

More than 13000 officers and men from the Merchant Navy served with the Royal Navy and they were  subject to Naval discipline while generally retaining their Merchant Navy rates of pay and other conditions. Liverpool was manning port for many of the various types of auxiliary vessels, including armed merchant cruisers and boarding vessels, cable ships, rescue tugs, and others on special service. 

Representative panel

Representative panel

Two of the more well known ships on the memorial are HMS Rawalpindi and HMS Jervis Bay which were both sunk protecting their convoys from German surface raiders.

The memorial is a difficult one to photograph as it is a very popular spot with people, and I was never really able to get decent photographs of it from land side, and the closest I got from the ferry was:

It is also very close to the statue of Captain Frederic John Walker RN.

Appropriately the Merchant Navy Memorial is also in this area.

This was not one of my better memorial explorations, but if ever I return I will rectify the situation.

DRW © Created 16/06/2018

Updated: 16/06/2018 — 12:39

Liverpool Pals Memorial

Lime Street Station in Liverpool has seen a lot in the years that it has served Liverpool since it officially opened in August 1836. It also saw many men leave for war, and probably many returning victorious years later.  When I saw it in May 2018 it was somewhat of a mess, with ongoing renovations and the station due to be closed for 2 months. 

Naturally my 2nd question was: where is the War Memorial? and somebody who worked there said that it had been removed to the railway museum at York, which did not help me much. However, there are two memorials if you look for them. The first is a reasonably new addition and was unveiled by HRH The Earl of Wessex on Sunday 31 August 2014.

The Liverpool Pals Memorial is in the form of two large friezes stuck high up on a wall where you are not likely to see them. The £85,000 artwork was designed by Liverpool sculptor Tom Murphy and was funded through donations, I am not sure whether the place where they are sited is the original site or final site.

The Friezes are entitled:
 ‘Recruitment and Farewell.’

Recruitment and Farewell (1500 x 569)

 

‘Time to go home.’

Time to go home. (1500 x 574)

There is an explanation of the friezes by the artist  at http://www.liverpoolsculptures.com.  

More than 1,000 men were recruited on August 31 1914 alone. Over 6,000 men were initially signed up in 1914 – enough soldiers to serve in four battalions and for two reserve battalions. Unfortunately many would never walk through Lime Street Station again.

The second memorial that I spotted was quite odd, it almost felt like a reminder, or an apology.

I hope that once the huge renovation has completed the original war memorial will be restored to where it should be and that the Pals Battalions gets placed in a better spot so that they can be seen better. They are amazing pieces of work.

Oh, as an afterthought, just image what the inside of that glass cathedral must have looked like during the age of the steam engine.

DRW © 2018. Created 11/06/2018

Updated: 11/06/2018 — 19:46

Kings Liverpool Regiments Boer War Memorial

The Kings Liverpool Regiments Boer Memorial may be found in St John’s Gardens, Liverpool. Google Earth co-ordinates  53.408902°,  -2.981613°

It commemorates the involvement of the regiment in the First and Second Anglo-Afghan Wars (1839-1842 and 1878-1880), Third Anglo-Burmese War; (1885-1886), and the Second Boer War (1899-1902).

It was unveiled on 9 September 1905, and attended by Field Marshall Sir George White VC GCB. It is a Grade II listed building. 

There are 355 names on the memorial, of which 179 tie into the Boer War. Unfortunately legibility of the names is poor.

Technically the memorial is not only a Boer War memorial but commemorates other campaigns that the Kings Liverpool Regiment were a part of.

The memorial is described as:

“Central pedestal surmounted by figure of Britannia. Pedestal is flanked by arching walls with figure of a serviceman at each end. Inscription on the plinth and walls Britannia stands with right hand raised whilst in her left she holds a spray of laurel and carries a round shield decorated with sea horses. On her head is a helmet topped by a ship’s prow with a sea horse crest. Bronze swags placed around the upper edge of the pedestal. A soldier of 1685 stands at the left end of the wall and a soldier of 1902 stands at the right end of the wall. Guns and other military equipment lie on the sloping step at the foot of the pedestal intermingled with wreaths and palms and covered with the union flag. Laurel wreath placed in front. At the rear of the memorial, on the pedestal, is the regimental badge, a sphinx and a laurel twig device. Below this is the figure of a drummer boy dressed in the uniform of 1743. He sits on a rock beating a call to arms. Behind him are banners, a cannon and a musket.”  (https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/1285  © WMR-1285)

DRW © 2018. Created 11/06/2018

Updated: 13/06/2018 — 07:00

Merchant Navy Memorials, Liverpool

The Merchant Navy Memorials in Liverpool are situated on the waterfront facing the Mersey and the Birkenhead side of the river bank.  The city played an important role in the Battle of the Atlantic as Western Approaches Command was based in the city, and many of the men and ships that sailed in the convoys came from this port.

A few metres further is a raised block with a number of relevant dedications. The two memorials are between Google Earth co-ordinates: 53.403829°  -2.996822°

Of particular relevance was this plaque that does not really make up for the lack of recognition of men and women from so many other countries that lost their lives in the Merchant Navy during both wars.

There was also an Arandora Star Plaque which served as a reminder that all ships were in danger of being sunk, whether combatant or non-combatant.

Norwegians, Poles and Belgians are also commemorated on this block.

Unfortunately these plaques are mounted on what appears to be some sort of housing for some unidentified machinery/access chamber and really do not connect too well with the Merchant Navy Memorial close by. I would have thought that a unified MN memorial would have meant much more instead of having these two distinct groupings that appear as an afterthought. 

The Maritime Museum also had a very good Merchant Navy exhibition on while I was visiting. 

A few steps away is the Liverpool Naval War Memorial which I will cover separately.

DRW © 2018. Created 05/06/2018

Updated: 10/06/2018 — 09:34

Arthur Herbert Lindsay Richardson VC.

Arthur Herbert Lindsay Richardson (23/09/1872 –  15/12/1932) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Wolvespruit, about 15 miles north of Standerton, Transvaal, South Africa, on 5 July 1990.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 27229 Page: 5688, reads:

“Lord Strathcona’s Corps

Sergeant Arthur Herbert Lindsey Richardson

On the 5th July, 1900, at Wolve Spruit, about 15 miles north of Standerton, a party of Lord Strathcona’s Corps, only 38 in number, came into contact, and was engaged at close quarters, with a force of 80 of the enemy. 
When the order to retire had been given, Sergeant Richardson rode back under a very heavy cross-fire and picked up a trooper whose horse had been shot and who was wounded in two places and rode with him out of fire. 
At the time when this act of gallantry was performed, Sergeant Richardson was within 300 yards of the enemy, and was himself riding a wounded horse.”

He is buried in St James Cemetery, Liverpool, and the headstone is erected  on the patch of lawn between the cemetery entrance and Liverpool Anglican Cathedral

DRW © 2018. Created 05/06/2018.  Taddy &Co cigarette card by Card Promotions, ©1997, first issued 1902.

Updated: 05/06/2018 — 05:45

Evesham War Memorial

The principal war memorial in Evesham, Worcestershire, may be found in the Abbey park overlooking the River Avon.

 

The memorial is a wide one and it stands on the edge of a sloped embankment, so getting the whole memorial in from straight in front is almost impossible as the camera would no longer be able to see the lower half.

It consists of a curved limestone screen wall with a pedestal topped by a bronze sculpture of a soldier wearing his helmet at a jaunty angle and carrying a slung rifle with bayonet attached.

The soldier is the work of Henry Poole R.A and is a particularly good one because it really could be the poster figure for the Old Contemptibles that held the line in the opening months of the First World War.

There are four name panels (2 per side, World War 1 on the 2 inner panels), commemorating the men from Evesham that fought and died in the First and Second World Wars, and commemorative inscriptions.  It was unveiled on 7 August 1921.  Google Earth co-ordinates for the memorial are:  52.090656°,  -1.946112°.

The Memorial was restored in 2014 following a grant from War Memorials Trust.

The central dedication reads: 

TO THE

ENDURING MEMORY OF

THE GLORIOUS DEAD

OF THE

BOROUGH OF EVESHAM

WHO GAVE THEIR

LIVES FOR THEIR

COUNTRY IN THE

 GREAT WAR

 1914-1920

The War Memorials Register entry for the Memorial is 57,  The list of names is also available on that link. 

Not too far away between the Churches of St Lawrence and All Saints there is another War Memorial that could be easily overlooked. I believe these are called Calvarys.

The inscription is not very legible but there were poppy wreaths against the pedestal so the memorial is recognised.

 

Abbey Park.

DRW © 2018. Created 20/05/2018

Updated: 04/06/2018 — 06:20

The Machine Gun Corps Memorial

The Machine Gun Corps Memorial,  is located on the north side of the traffic island at Hyde Park Corner near the Wellington Arch. The memorial is also known as “The Boy David” as it depicts a 2.7m bronze statue of a nude David by Francis Derwent Wood.  The figure stands with one hand on his hip and the other resting on Goliath’s oversized sword.  On either side of the plinth are  bronze models of a Vickers machine gun, wreathed in laurels.

I have to be honest though, I did not really feel any connection to the memorial, unlike the Royal Artillery Memorial that conveys so much emotion in the oversized bronze figures that make up a part of the overall memorial. 

The memorial is inscribed:

ERECTED TO 
COMMEMORATE 
THE GLORIOUS 
HEROES 
OF THE 
MACHINE GUN
CORPS 
WHO FELL IN 
THE GREAT  WAR.

Below the inscription is a quotation from 1 Samuel 18:7:

“Saul has slain his thousands 
but David his tens of thousands
“.  

The memorial was originally erected next to Grosvenor Place, near Hyde Park Corner, but was dismantled in 1945 and eventually rededicated at its present location in 1963. It was upgraded to a Grade II* listed building (particularly important buildings of more than special interest) in July 2014.

DRW © 2013-2018. Retrospectively created 25/08/2018

Updated: 04/06/2018 — 06:20

Wallace (Wally) Arnold Oakes GC.

Wallace (Wally) Arnold Oakes (23/04/1932 – 12/06/1965), a traindriver with British Rail, was awarded the George Cross posthumously for his bravery on 5th June 1965.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette published on 15 October 1965, Supplement: 43793, Page: 9767, reads:

“Wallace Arnold Oakes (deceased), Locomotive Driver, British Railway Board Crewe (Sandbach).
Mr Oakes left Crewe driving the steam locomotive of a relief express passenger train. The train consisted of ten coaches and was reasonably well filled with passengers. When about seven miles from Crewe travelling at nearly sixty miles per hour the engine cab was suddenly filled with smoke and flames blowing back from the firebox. The fireman at once climbed through the side window and somehow managed to get on the cab steps where he extinguished his burning clothing by rubbing himself against the plating. He could not see into the cab but realising the brake had been applied he remained on the step until the train stopped. The flames subsided at once and he-entered the cab to find that Oakes was missing; he saw him lying on the cutting slope just ahead of the cab. His clothing was severely burnt and the flesh beneath had suffered similar to an extent described later as 80 percent of the body. Oakes was however still able to speak at that stage but was dazed. The first person to make an inspection of the controls was a fireman from an up train which was stopped to pick up the injured men. He found the brake fully applied, the regulator partly open an the blower valve open. It seems apparent therefore that Driver Oakes instead of quitting the cab as soon as the blow-back occurred remained to apply the brake, open the blower and probably close the regulator partly. The position in which he was found shows that he did not leave the engine until it had come to rest. Mr Oakes must have been aware that to remain at the controls of the locomotive was a grave risk to his own life. Nevertheless he applied the brake full and took all the measures he could to reduce the effect of the blow-back. Mr Oakes gallant action showed that his first thought was for the safety of his passengers and he thereby sacrificed his life, for he died a week later. He set an outstanding example of devotion to duty and of public service.”

Sadly, he was buried in an unmarked grave in St Matthew’s Churchyard, Haslington, Cheshire. Since his death, Wally Oakes GC has had two locomotives named after him, and there is a plaque in his memory at Crewe Railway Station.

The headstone took a campaign through a national Railway Magazine to raise the funds to be erected. It came about through a request that Mark Green had from the magazine for a picture of Wally as his medals were being sold (bought by Railway Museum in York) and they didn’t know he was in an unmarked grave.

DRW © 2018. Created 21/02/2018. Image by Mark Green, used with permission.

Updated: 04/06/2018 — 06:20
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