Category: United Kingdom

Royal Naval Division Memorial in London

The Royal Naval Division Memorial is located on Horse Guards Parade in London, but unfortunately is almost lost in the space as it is such a modest structure. It was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and was unveiled on 25 April 1925.

The Royal Naval Division (RND) was created by Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty at the time, and it was manned by sailors, Royal Marines, and naval and marine reservists who were not required at sea.  Although it was a land based division it  was known for its strong maritime traditions, including the use of naval ranks and terminology. After serving in the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign it was deployed to the Western Front in late 1916 until the armistice in 1918. It lost 10,737 officers and men during the war; while 30,892 were wounded.

The Admiralty Citadel partly obscure the poem by Rupert Brooke 1887–1915 which is inscribed on the one side of the memorial. Brooke, a member of the Hood Battalion of the RND, died of disease while en route with the division to Gallipoli in April 1915

Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead!

There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old,

But, dying, has made us rarer gifts than gold.

These laid the world away; poured out the red

Sweet wine of youth; gave up the years to be

Of work and joy, and that unhoped serene,

That men call age; and those who would have been,

Their sons, they gave, their immortality.

The memorial was removed from its original site when work was started on the citadel, and it was eventually erected in a number of places before being re-installed in its original site on  13 November 2003. It is designated a grade II listed building.

In my opinion the glowering and overgrown citadel really overshadows the memorial, leaving it to look more like a feature as opposed to a proper memorial. 

DRW 2013-2018. Created 14/10/2018

Updated: 15/10/2018 — 06:07

Tugboat Canning in Swansea

The preserved tug Canning, is permanently berthed in Swansea at the Swansea Maritime and Industrial Museum. She was built in 1954 and built by Cochrane & Sons of Selby for the Alexandra Towing Company and was based at Liverpool until being transferred to Swansea in 1966.  She became the last steam tug to operate in the Bristol Channel, serving until 1974. She was retired to the Museum in 1975. (https://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/4/canning)

She is a oil burner with a triple expansion engine by C D Holmes & Co. Ltd., Hull. Unusually  there is even a builders plate for her engine makers on board.

She was not in a perfect condition and really needed some paint and derusting. I was unable to get onto the pontoon to see what she is like on the other side, and photographic positions were limited by the fence. Berthed ahead of her was the preserved light vessel “Lightship 91”, known as ‘Helwick’, and she too was very difficult to photograph. 

To the best of my knowledge neither ships are open to the public.

DRW © 2018, Created 11/10/2018

Updated: 10/10/2018 — 06:10

Swindon Railway Works Plaques

The plaques in this post were photographed at Steam. Museum of the Great Western Railroad that I visited in 2015. Unfortunately my images did not come out well, it really has to do with camera shake and long exposures associated with not using a flash. I have sharpened them as much as possible. 

The Great Western Railway had it’s engine works in this railway town, and even built housing for its workers there, it was the biggest employer too and the Museum tells the story of the men and women who built, operated and travelled on the Great Western Railway. In wartime the works would have played a major part in maintaining the steam engines and in some cases using their heavy industrial facilities for wartime production. The labour force of men would have been affected by volunteering and conscription, and women began to play a role in keeping the works running. The carnage of the Western Front would have also affected the men who worked here, and a number of plaques have survived, commemorating those who never returned.​

 

DRW © 2015-2018. Created 27/08/2018

Updated: 27/08/2018 — 07:41

Frederick Hitch VC

Frederick Hitch (27/11/1856 – 06/01/1913) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Rorke’s Drift during the Anglo-Zulu War on 22–23 January 1879.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 24717, Page: 3178 reads:

“THE Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers and Soldiers of Her Majesty’s Army, whose claims have been submitted for Her Majesty’s approval, for their gallant conduct in the defence of Rorke’s Drift, on the occasion of the attack by the Zulus, as recorded against their names, viz.:—

2nd Battalion 24th Regiment, Corporal William Allen and Private Frederick Hitch.

It was chiefly due to the courageous conduct of these men that communication with the hospital was kept up at all. Holding together at all costs a most dangerous post, raked in reverse by the enemy’s fire from the hill, they were both severely wounded, but their determined conduct enabled the patients to be withdrawn from the hospital, and when incapacitated by their wounds from fighting, they continued, as soon as their wounds had been dressed, to serve out ammunition to their comrades during the night.”

Frederick Hitch VC collapsed and died at his home whilst talking to a neighbour on the 6th of  January 1913 and he was buried in St Nicholas Churchyard, Chiswick.

DRW © 2018, created 26/08/2018. Image courtesy of Mark Green.

Updated: 26/08/2018 — 19:26

Bertram Stuart Trevelyan Archer GC

Bertram Stuart Trevelyan Archer (03/02/1915 – 03/05/2015) was awarded the George Cross for extensive work on defusing German bombs dropped on United Kingdom during World War II.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Issue: 35292, Page: 5653, reads

“The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS in recognition of most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner, to: —
Second-Lieutenant (Acting Lieutenant) Bertram Stuart Trevelyan Archer (126305), Corps of Royal Engineers.”

Stuart  Archer was the only VC or GC (up till 03/02/2015) to reach the age of 100. He passed away on 3rd May 2015 and was cremated at the New Southgate Crematorium.

DRW © 2018. Created 23/08/2018. Image courtesy of Mark Green. 

Updated: 26/08/2018 — 19:26

Frederick Davies GC

Frederick Davies (17/02/1913 –  23/08/1945) was posthumously awarded the George Cross, for his efforts to rescue two sisters from a fire in Harlesden.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 37455, Page: 805, reads:

“The KING has been graciously pleased to award the GEORGE CROSS to:-

Frederick DAVIES (deceased), Fireman, No. 34 (London) Area, National Fire Service.

Premises which consisted of a shop and house of five rooms caught fire. The N.F.S. were informed that two children were in the front room on the second floor. The escape was immediately slipped and pitched to the middle window of this floor. Before it was in position Davies ran up the escape.

At this stage flames were pouring from the windows on the second floor and licking up the front of the building. Upon Davies reaching the window he at once tried to enter but bursts of flame momentarily halted him. Undaunted, however, he climbed into the window with his back to the flames and entered the room. He was seen to endeavour to remove his tunic presumably to wrap it around and protect the children but his hands were now too badly burned for him to do so. During this time Davies was moving around the blazing room in an endeavour to locate the children, and after a short period he returned with a child in his arms whom he handed out of the window. He then turned back into the room to find the other child.

He was next seen to fling himself out of the window on to the escape, the whole of his clothing being alight. He was helped to the ground, the flames on his clothes were extinguished and he was conveyed to hospital suffering from severe burns. Later he died from his injuries.

The gallantry and outstanding devotion to duty displayed by Fireman Davies was of the highest order. He knew the danger he was facing, but with complete disregard of his own safety he made a most heroic attempt to rescue the two children. In so doing, he lost his life”

Neither Avril nor Jean Pike survived the fire. Frederick Davies is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

DRW © 2018. Created 22/08/2018. Image courtesy of Mark Green

Updated: 26/08/2018 — 19:26

Commando Winners of the Victoria Cross

The Commando Winners of the Victoria Cross Plaque may be found at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Lt Col Geoffrey Keyes VC, MC.
Lt Col Charles Newman VC
Sgt Thomas Durrant VC
Maj Patrick Porteus VC
L/Cpl Henry Harden VC
Lt George A Knowland VC
Cpl Thomas Hunter VC
Maj Anders Lassen VC, MC**

DRW © 2018. Created 21/08/2018

Updated: 26/08/2018 — 19:26

Forest Frederick Edward “Tommy” Yeo-Thomas GC

Forest Frederick Edward “Tommy” Yeo-Thomas (17/06/1902 – 26/02/1964) was a British Special Operations Executive (SOE) agent in the Second World War and was awarded the George Cross for his clandestine work behind enemy lines.  Yeo-Thomas was known by the Gestapo as “The White Rabbit”. 

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 37468, Page: 961 reads: 

“The KING has been graciously pleased to award the George Cross to Acting Wing Commander Forest Frederick Edward YEO-THOMAS, M.C. (89215), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

This officer was parachuted into France on 25 February 1943. He showed much courage and initiative during his mission, particularly when he enabled a French officer who was being followed by a Gestapo agent in Paris to reach safety and resume clandestine work in another area. He also took charge of a U.S. Army Air Corps officer who had been shot down and, speaking no French, was in danger of capture. This officer returned to England on 15 April 1943, in the aircraft which picked up Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas.

Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas undertook a second mission on 17 September 1943. Soon after his arrival in France, many patriots were arrested. Undeterred, he continued his enquires and obtained information which enabled the desperate situation being rectified. On six occasions, he narrowly escaped arrest. He returned to England on 15 November 1943, bringing British intelligence archives which he had secured from a house watched by the Gestapo.

This officer was again parachuted into France in February, 1944. Despite every security precaution, he was betrayed to the Gestapo in Paris on 21 March. While being taken by car to Gestapo Headquarters, he was badly “beaten up”. He then underwent 4 days continuous interrogation, interspersed with beatings and torture, including immersions, head downwards, in ice-cold water, with legs and arms chained. Interrogations later continued for 2 months and Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas was offered his freedom in return for information concerning the Head of a Resistance Secretariat. Owing to his wrist being cut by chains, he contracted blood-poisoning and nearly lost his left arm. He made two daring but unsuccessful attempts to escape. He was then confined in solitude in Fresnes prison for 4 months, including 3 weeks in a darkened cell with very little food. Throughout these months of almost continuous torture, he steadfastly refused to disclose any information.

On 17 July, Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas was sent with a party to Compiègne prison, from which he twice attempted to escape. He and 36 others were transferred to Buchenwald. On the way, they stopped at Saarbrücken, where they were beaten and kept in a tiny hut. They arrived at Buchenwald on 16 August and 16 of them were executed and cremated on 10 September. Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas had already commenced to organise resistance within the camp and remained undaunted by the prospect of a similar fate. He accepted an opportunity of changing his identity with that of a dead French prisoner, on condition that other officers would also be enabled to do so. In this way, he was instrumental in saving the lives of two officers.

Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas was later transferred to a work kommando for Jews. In attempting to escape, he was picked up by a German patrol and, claiming French nationality, was transferred to a camp near Marienburg for French prisoners of war. On 16 April 1945, he led a party of 20 in a most gallant attempt to escape in broad daylight. Ten of them were killed by gunfire from the guards. Those who reached cover split up into small groups. Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas became separated from his companions after 3 days without food. He continued alone for a week and was recaptured when only 800 yards from the American lines.

A few days later, he escaped with a party of 10 French prisoners of war, whom he led through German patrols to the American lines. Wing Commander Yeo-Thomas thus turned his final mission into a success by his determined opposition to the enemy, his strenuous efforts to maintain the morale of his fellow prisoners and his brilliant escape activities. He endured brutal treatment and torture without flinching and showed the most amazing fortitude and devotion to duty throughout his service abroad, during which he was under the constant threat of death.”

He survived the war and died in 1964 at the age of 61 in his Paris apartment following a massive haemorrhage. He was cremated in Paris and then subsequently repatriated to be interred in Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey, where his grave may be found in the Pine Glade Garden of Remembrance. 

DRW © 2018. Created 21/08/2018. Image courtesy of Mark Green

Updated: 26/08/2018 — 19:26

James Hendry GC

James Hendry (20/12/1911 – 13/06/1941) was was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his self sacrifice  on 13/06/1941 Loch Laggan, Scotland.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 35962, Page: 1511 reads: 

The KING has been graciously pleased, on the advice of Canadian Ministers, to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS, in recognition of most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner, 
to: — B.28593 Corporal Jame Hendry.”

No.1 Tunnelling Company of the  Royal Canadian Engineers was tasked with digging the tunnel between Loch Spey and Loch Laggan to supply water to the British Aluminium works at Fort William, when a fire broke out in an explosives store near Loch Laggan.  Corporal Hendry  ordered his colleagues to run to safety and attempted to extinguish the blaze, rather than attempt to escape the inevitable explosion that would have killed more men and stopped work on the tunnel. However it was in vain as the ensuring explosion killed him and Sapper John MacDougall Stewart. Seven more were injured.

James Hendry was buried in Brookwood Military Cemetery (grave reference 31. F. 9.) in Surrey. 

DRW 2018. Created 16/08/2018, image courtesy of Mark Green.

Updated: 26/08/2018 — 19:26

John *Jock” Rennie GC

John *Jock” Rennie (1919 – 29/10/1943) was awarded the George Cross for the gallantry he displayed in protecting others during a training accident at Riddlesworth near Slough on 29 October 1943.

The Citation, recorded in the London Gazette of Supplement: 36529, Page: 2417 reads:

“The KING has been graciously pleased, on the advice of His Majesty’s Canadian Ministers, to approve of the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS, in recognition of most  conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner, to: —
6.45960 Corporal (acting Sergeant) John Rennie, Canadian Infantry Corps.”

The Citation does not elaborate on the incident, however, it is accepted that: 

“On 29th October 1943, Acting Sergeant Jock Rennie was supervising grenade-throwing by his unit at a Canadian training camp in Slough, then in Buckinghamshire. One grenade had been thrown successfully but a second failed to clear the protective embankment and rolled back to the throwing area. Rennie had time to get clear of the danger but, concerned for the safety of his men, he ran forward and tried to pick up the rolling grenade and throw it clear. However, the grenade exploded as he did so and he was fatally injured. Three other soldiers within 5 yards of the grenade were only slightly hurt.” (Victoriacrossonline)

He was accorded a military funeral and is buried in Brookwood Cemetery in the military section

DRW © 2018, created 14/08/2018. Image courtesy of Mark Green, description of GC action by Victoriacrossonline. 

Updated: 26/08/2018 — 19:26
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