Category: Outside RSA

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: 22/02/2018 — 19:04

The Old Contemptibles Plaque (Southampton)

In my meanderings around cemeteries in the UK I sometimes encounter plaques on the graves of the “Old Contemptibles”. Unfortunately they are not that easy to research because it is easier to research a soldier that died in the war than one who survived.

Just what is an Old Contemptible? Legend has it that Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, allegedly issued an order on 19 August 1914 to “exterminate … the treacherous English and walk over General French’s contemptible little army”. Hence, in later years, the survivors of the regular army dubbed themselves “The Old Contemptibles”.

Not too many men from the regular army survived the long slog in the trenches, and the survivors often suffered from the effects of the war for the rest of their lives. The grave markers that I see are from the “Old Contemptibles Association”  that was founded by Captain JP Danny, RA, on 25 June 1925. Membership was limited to veterans of the regular army who had served in the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders within range of enemy artillery during the period 5 August to 22 November 1914 and had thus taken part in the desperate early battles and retreats before the advancing German forces, before the tide turned and the allies counterattacked at the Battle of the Marne.  The Association had 178 branches in the UK & 14 overseas branches. It produced its own magazine “The Old Contemptible” & all members were known as “chums”.  The Association’s national organisation was wound up in the 1970s but in London and the South East it continued until 1994. (http://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/the-old-contemptibles-association/)

In Southampton, on the side of the former Docks’ Post Office and Telegraph building at Dock Gate 4, there is a plaque commemorating the men who sailed from the port to make history. Erected on 9 April 1950, it was unveiled by by Admiral Sir Algernon Willis, Naval Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth. 

Former docks post office and telegraph building

 

The poem, by Beatrix Price Miller reads:

OH MIGHTY FORCE THAT STOOD FOR ENGLAND!
THAT, WITH YOUR BODIES FOR A LIVING SHIELD,
GUARDED HER SLOW AWAKING, THAT DEFIED
THE SUDDEN CHALLENGE OF TREMENDOUS ODDS
AND FOUGHT THE RUSHING LEGIONS TO A STAND
THEN STARK GRIM ENDURANCE HELD THE LINE,
OH LITTLE FORCE THAT IN YOUR AGONY
STOOD FAST WHILE ENGLAND GIRT HER ARMOUR ON,
HELD HIGH OUR HONOUR IN YOUR WOUNDED HANDS,
CARRIED OUR HONOUR SAFE WITH BLEEDING FEET
WE HAVE NO GLORY GREAT ENOUGH FOR YOU,
THE VERY SOUL OF BRITAIN KEEPS YOUR DAY!
PROCESSION? – MARCHES FORTH A RACE IN ARMS:
AND FOR THE THUNDER OF A CROWD’S APPLAUSE,
CRASH UPON CRASH THE VOICE OF MONSTROUS GUNS,
FED BY THE SWEAT. SERVED BY THE LIFE OF ENGLAND,
SHOUTING YOUR BATTLE-CRY ACROSS THE WORLD.
OH, LITTLE MIGHTY FORCE YOUR WAY IS OURS,
THIS LAND INVIOLATE YOUR MONUMENT.

Grave markers. 

I have seen some of the markers in the cemeteries I have visited and can only find these in my images, it is possible I have missed seeing more by taking a different path or pausing to look at something else. But, I will keep on looking. Sadly, I expect many of the markers have ended up as scrap metal over the years, so these may be quite rare so many years down the line.

A Bagwell, Gloucester Regt

Gloucester Old Cemetery

E Ellis, Royal Field Artillery

Reading Cemetery

WA Marshall, MM. RVL Berkshire Regt

Reading Cemetery

 

GA Janaway, Royal Hampshire Regt.

Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton

 

H Betterridge, Royal Fusiliers

Streatham Park Cemetery, London

 

Robert W Smith, Grenadier Guards

Gloucester Old Cemetery

   

DRW © 2018. Created 01/02/2018

Updated: 22/04/2018 — 13:10

Gloucester Post Office War Memorial

On Friday 12/01/2018 I went through to Gloucester to do some business at the post office, and as I was leaving I spotted a war memorial inside the post office. Fortunately I had my camera with and got permission to photograph it. The two plaques are mounted quite high up on the wall and the corner is cramped so these pics are the best I can do.

First World War.

The inscription reads: 

Pro patria. This tablet is erected by the Postmaster and staff of Gloucester and district in memory of the undermentioned colleagues who fell in the Great War 1914-1919.

The names on the Memorial (World War 1) are: 

  • Johnson. T. (!)
  • Constance. A.E. (?)
  • Jones. E.G. (!)
  • Evans. A.H. (!)
  • Phillips. G.(!)
 

An (*) indicates that may be the CWGC details for that person. (?) indicates that no casualty with that name was found. (!) Too many possibles and not enough information. Wm = William,  Name list obtained from http://www.royalmailmemorials.com/memorial/gloucester-and-district-war-memorial

Second World War.

The inscription reads:

Pro patria. This tablet is erected by the Head Postmaster and staff of Gloucester and district in the memory of the undermentioned colleagues who fell in the World War 1939-1945

  • Harman. V.A.(!)
  • Cook. R.J.(!)
  • James. I.T.(!)
 

Underneath the above plaque is a notice stating that The war memorial was maintained by Royal Mail and may not be removed without permission.  That is the first time I have seen such a notification on any war memorial, so hopefully it will not end up the way so many others have.

Gloucester Post Office

Interestingly enough, Geoffrey Howard Duberley is buried in West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg and I photographed his grave in 2007.

There is a similar memorial at the Royal Mail Depot in Tewkesbury.

Birt W.F (*)

Garratt C.E (?)

Peach R.F. (?)

Rowley H.G

DRW © 2018. Created 15/01/2018

Updated: 17/01/2018 — 07:05

Arthur Forbes Gordon Kilby VC

Arthur Forbes Gordon Kilby (03/02/1885 – 25/09/1915) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on the first day of the Battle of Loos.

Arthur Kilby VC

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 29527, Page: 3409 reads: 

“Captain Arthur Forbes Gordon Kilby, late 2nd Battalion, The South Staffordshire Regiment. For most conspicuous bravery.

Captain Kilby was specially selected, at his own request, and on account of the gallantry which he had previously displayed on many occasions, to attack with his company a strong enemy redoubt.
The company charged along the narrow tow-path, headed by Captain Kilby, who, though wounded at the outset, continued to lead his men right up to the enemy wire under a devastating machine-gun fire and a shower of bombs. Here he was shot down, but, although his foot had been blown off, he continued to cheer on his men and to use a rifle. 
Captain Kilby has been missing since the date of the performance of this great act of valour, and his death” has now to be presumed.”

Captain Kilby was killed on 25 September 1915, his  heroism was acknowledged by the German defenders who erected a memorial cross at the location of his death. His body was located on 19 February 1929 and interred at Arras Road Cemetery, Roclincourt, 

He is commemorated on a Memorial Stone at the Cheltenham War Memorial.

© DRW 2018. Created 01/01/2018. Reproduction Gallaher cigarette card first issued 1916, reproduced by Card promotions © 2003

Updated: 16/01/2018 — 13:22

Anketel Moutray Read VC

Anketell Moutray Read (27/10/1884 – 25/09/1915 was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 25 September 1915 near Hulluch, France.

Ankettel Read VC

 

The Citation, published in the London Gazette of Supplement: 29371, Page: 11447 reads:

“Captain Anketell Montray Read, 1st Battalion, The Northamptonshire Regiment. 

For most conspicuous bravery during the first attack near Hulluch on the morning of 25th September, 1915.

Although partially gassed, Captain Read went out several times in order to rally parties of different units which were disorganised and retiring. He led them back into the firing line, and, utterly regardless of danger, moved freely about encouraging them under a withering fire. He was mortally wounded while carrying out this gallant work. 

Captain Read had previously shown conspicuous bravery during digging operations on 29th, 30th and 31st August, 1915, and on the night of the 29th-30th July he carried out of action an Officer, who was mortally wounded, under a hot fire from rifles and grenades. “

He is buried in Dud Corner Cemetery, Loos, France. Born in Cheltenham, he is commemorated with a Memorial Stone at the Cheltenham War Memorial.

He is also commemorated on the War Memorial.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 01/01/2018. Gallaher cigarette card reproduction by Card Promotions © 2003, originally issued 1916. 

Updated: 16/01/2018 — 13:23

Ashchurch War Memorial (Tewkesbury)

When I moved to Tewkesbury in 2015 it was inevitable that my camera lens would be on the lookout for churches, cemeteries and war memorials. The Parish Church of St Nicholas  in the village of Ashchurch being the one church closest to where I was living at the time.  I made two visits to the church and once I had done those I put it out of my mind and concentrated on other things. However, I was unaware that there was a war memorial associated with Ashchurch and this past week I realised that I had missed out. 

St Nicholas Parish Church

The War Memorial may be found on Google Earth at  51.997611°,  -2.105686°.  and it is not too difficult to find it, you literally follow the cycle path until you find St Nicholas church, then cross the road and there you are. 

The war memorial may be described as a “Cross with ‘roof’ ends on top and each arm, set on capital on top of square tapered column on three step base”.  (http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/20772)

Remembrance Day was almost 2 months ago  and there are still wreaths at the memorial. The main inscription reads:

There are three panels with names from both World Wars, 24 from the First World War and two from the 2nd. It will be interesting to see how many of them are buried in the graveyard of St Nicholas Church just over the road. I do know that there is a memorial to Major Bertram Cartland in the grounds of Tewkesbury Abbey. 

Alternatively the names on the memorial may be seen at http://www.glosgen.co.uk/warmem/ashchurchwm.htm.   I created a community at Lives of the First World War specifically for this memorial. 

Ashchurch Village Hall

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 26/12/2017

Updated: 15/01/2018 — 08:03

Prestbury War Memorial

The War Memorial in the village of Prestbury, Gloucestershire may be found at  Google Earth co-ordinates 51.913794°,  -2.042938°. 

The memorial has plaques commemorating men from the village that served in both World Wars. There are a total of 41 names on the memorial and these are available at Remembering.org

The Parish Church of St Mary’s in close to the memorial and there are 5 casualties buried in the churchyard with one private memorial. The church has it’s own war memorial inside it.

The church and memorial are roughly 1 kilometre away from Prestbury Cemetery, that has the Gloucesters Memorial in it, as well as burials from both World Wars.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 04/11/2017

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:15

War Memorials in Stroud

My visit to Stroud in September 2017 was somewhat of a disaster, although a number of goals were achieved. One of those goals was to photograph any war memorials that I would see on my way. Unfortunately the Stroud War Memorial was in an area which was far removed from where I ended up but one day I may return.  As far as I can see it is situated at  51.747915°,  -2.214784°. 

The major war memorial that I saw was in St Laurence Church in Stroud, and the World War 1 section was remarkably legible. 

Flanking this central Roll of Honour are the names for the Second World War. A Book of Remembrance is kept in a glass case near the memorial.

 

There are more images of the church in the blogpost that I did about my trip to Stroud

My next memorial I found in The Holy Trinity Church which I passed on my way to the cemetery. The memorial looks like it was made from alabaster and it had a screen blocking off the best view. The two windows on either side of it confused my camera too.

A shot from the side did leave me with a more legible Roll of Honour so all is not lost.

That was my collection from Stroud. I will have to return one day to get the war memorial and revisit Painswick. Just not this year.

©DRW 2017-2018. Created 01/10/2017

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:15

War Memorials in Painswick

While attempting to visit Stroud last weekend I ended up in Painswick in Gloucestershire instead, and while I was there I photographed two War Memorials.

The first was outside the parish church of Saint Mary in Painswick.

The memorial is surrounded by Yew trees, and I believe that there are 99 of them in this churchyard! unfortunately the weather was grey and gloomy and I did not take as many images as I would  have liked. It was designed by Arts and Craft architect Frederick Landseer  Maur Griggs and was erected in 1921 and commemorates the men from Painswick who lost their lives in the two world wars. 

The weathering of the stone has made the memorial hard to read, so it may be easier to have a look at the memorial inside the church.

What makes this memorial interesting is that it not only commemorates those who lost their lives in the two wars, but also those who served in it. The gold engraved names are of the former. I have darkened portions of the image to enhance legibility, 

It is a nice touch to know that all of those who served are on the ROH, and it is one of the few occasions that I have seen it done.  Unfortunately though there were chairs in front of the memorial so I was unable to get all of the plaques. I was also pressed for time so could not be picky about my pics.  The one thing I do know is that the village lost a lot of men in the wars, and I expect this church was the centre of the many memorial services that would have been be as a result of the wartime deaths. 

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 30/09/2017

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:15

George Allan Maling. VC

George Allan Maling (6/10/1888 – 9/07/1929), was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions while serving with the 12th Battalion, The Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own) 

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 29371,  Page: 11448, reads: 

Temporary Lieutenant George Allan Maling, M.B., Royal Army Medical Corps.

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during the heavy fighting near Fauquissart on 25th September, 1915.

 Lieutenant Maling worked incessantly with untiring energy from 6.15 a.m. on the 25th till 8 a.m. on the 26th, collecting and treating in the open under heavy shell fire more than 300 men. At about 11 a.m. on the 25th he was flung down and temporarily stunned by the bursting of a large high explosive shell, which wounded his only assistant and killed several of his patients. A second shell soon after covered him and his instruments with debris, but his high courage and zeal never failed him and he continued his gallant work single-handed.

He died on 9 July 1929, at the age of 40, after suffering from pleurisy. He is buried in Chislehurst Cemetery,  Chislehurst, Kent. Section A, Grave 2017, and is commemorated with a plaque at the National Memorial Arboretum. 

Capt. George Allan Maling. VC.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 12/07/2017. Gallaher cigarette card by Card Promotions, © 2001, first issued 1916

Updated: 12/01/2018 — 07:16
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