Category: World War 1

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 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

Liverpool Exchange War Memorials

There are two war memorials in the open square behind the Liverpool City Hall that is bounded by a large building that seems to have been called “Exchange Flags” but is now called Horton House and Walker House.

The first memorial was dedicated to “the Men of the Liverpool Exchange Newsroom”

Funded by donations raised from members of the Liverpool Exchange Company in 1916 and originally intended to be dedicated to those members who had joined the forces, the emphasis of the memorial changed at the end of WW1 to commemorate members and sons who had sacrificed their lives. Made of bronze and marble by artist Joseph Phillips, the sculpture features Britannia sheltering a young girl with two soldiers and a sailor looking outwards while  a Queen Mary Auxiliary Services nurse tends a wounded soldier.

Unveiled in 1924, the sculpture was moved to its current location in 1953. (https://www.cultureliverpool.co.uk/memorials-memories/)

The names are listed on the stonework next to the central dedication panel.

Above the memorial on two columns on either side of it are 4 figures: a female adult with a young boy and a male adult with a young girl. I do not know whether these are part of the original memorial or not.

The Exchange Flags square may be found at Google Earth  53.407654°,  -2.992094° 

The second memorial is in visual range and is The Unknown Soldier, Liverpool Cotton Association Memorial.

Unusually the bronze soldier stands at ground level  having been relocated in 2013 to be closer the ICA’s new office in Walker House.

Commissioned in 1922 by the International Cotton Association (ICA), known then as the Liverpool Cotton Association, the bronze statue of the Unknown Soldier was originally situated in Liverpool’s Cotton Exchange Building on Old Hall Street. (https://www.cultureliverpool.co.uk/memorials-memories/)

There is one further memorial in the square which is neither a First or Second World War Memorial. It is known as the Nelson Monument  and it  is really a monument to Admiral Horatio Nelson.

It is somewhat of a wedding cake of a monument, with  four statues depicting prisoners sitting in poses of sadness and representing Nelson’s major victories, the battles of Cape St Vincent, the Nile, Copenhagen, and Trafalgar.

The first stone was laid on 15 July 1812, and the monument was unveiled on 21 October 1813, the eighth anniversary of Nelson’s death. In 1866 the monument was moved to its present site in Exchange Flags to allow for an extension to the Exchange Buildings.

DRW © 2018. Created 10/06/2018

Updated: 10/06/2018 — 09:30

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

Liverpool Cenotaph

The Cenotaph in Liverpool may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates  53.408540°,  -2.979478°, it is situated in front of St George’s Hall and consists of a  rectangular block of stone on a platform, with bronze, low-relief sculptures on the sides depicting marching troops and mourners. It was designed by Lionel Budden, with carving by Herbert Tyson Smith. It is a Grade I listed building.

​The inscription on the front face reads:

TO THE THE MEN OF LIVERPOOL WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR

AND ALL WHO HAVE FALLEN IN CONFLICT SINCE.

AND THE VICTORY THAT DAY WAS TURNED INTO MOURNING UNTO ALL THE PEOPLE

 

This addition to the Cenotaph was unveiled in May 2003 by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Jack Spriggs. The inscription reads: 

THIS PLAQUE COMMEMORATES

THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC

AND THE PIVOTAL ROLE PLAYED BY THE CITY

AND PORT OF LIVERPOOL IN THIS THE

LONGEST AND MOST CRUCIAL SEA AND AIR 

CAMPAIGN OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR

THIS BATTLE LASTED 5 YEARS, 8 MONTHS, 4 DAYS;
HAD IT BEEN LOST, SO TOO WOULD HAVE BEEN THE WAR

BY THE MARKER, LIVERPOOL’S  UNPARALLELED SERVICE
AND SACRIFICE SHALL NOT BE FORGOTTEN.

As far as Cenotaphs go it is really not a very noticeable one, although the carvings are very beautiful. It is really overshadowed by the very large St George’s Hall behind it and while appropriate to the setting is just does not make much of an impact. 

The inscription on the rear face reads:

AS UNKNOWN AND YET WELL KNOWN AS DYING AND BEHOLD WE LIVE.

OUT OF THE NORTH PARTS, A GREAT COMPANY AND A MIGHTY ARMY

It was only dedicated in November 1930 and the delay was attributed to the Lord Mayor who announced that due to the high unemployment he was postponing the appeal for funds. The appeal was finally initiated in 1925.

DRW © 2018 Created 04/08/2018

Updated: 10/06/2018 — 09:33

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

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: 04/06/2018 — 06:21

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
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