The War Memorial in Oxford may be found 130 metres south of St. Giles’ Churchyard, on the intersection of Banbury and Woodstock Roads (Google Earth co-ordinates: 51.758313°, -1.260130°). It was unveiled and dedicated on 13 July 1921 and may be described as: “Seven-stepped octagonal base surmounted by an elaborate octagonal sectioned plinth, square-footed, octagonal sectioned tapering shaft, moulded octagonal boss and decorative cross.” (https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/31813)
This post has been written many years after the fact and to be honest prior to today I have never really had much to add to a SAS Somerset post. However, I have recently found the handout I received when I visited the ship in 1993.
The one thing I do remember is how clean and well maintained she looked when I was on board, and the men in charge were rightly proud of her. Sadly as at 2019 her future is bleak and it is likely that she will end up being broken up.
From the original handout that I received on the ship
Potted history of the SAS Somerset.
The ship was built by Blyth Shipbuilding Company and is listed as yard number 280, her machinery was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richards Ltd, Tyneside. Her keel was laid on 15 April 1941 and she entered service with the Royal Navy on 08 April 1942 as HMS Barcross.
HMS Barcross and her sister ship HMS Barbrake arrived at Simonstown, in 1942 and was transferred to Saldanha Bay for boom defence operations directly thereafter. In 1943 she was re-designated as HMSAS Barcross and transferred to the South African Naval Forces for the remainder of the war. In 1946 she was was purchased by the South African Government and was used for the dumping of ammunition off Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. On completion of these services, she was transferred to Salisbury Island in Durban and was subsequently laid up at Salisbury Island. In 1951 her name was changed to SAS Somerset.
During 1955 Somerset was brought back into service and during this period she was tasked in salvaging the remains of two Harvard training aircraft following a mid air collision over Table Bay. Six weeks later she recovered a third Harvard which had crashed into the sea off Bok Point. In 1959 during a refit, Somerset had her coal fired boilers converted to oil.
In 1961 Somerset salvaged the South African Railways tug F. Schermbrucker which had sunk in East London harbour. In 1967 she was fitted out with new boilers and a reconditioned main engine. In 1968 her services were called on again to assist the cable ship John W. Mackay to raise and repair the newly inaugurated overseas telephone cable in the shallow waters off Melkbosstrand. During 1969 Somerset raised the old whale catcher Wagter 11 in Saldanha Bay and subsequently towed her back to Simonstown. During the same year, she salvaged a floating crane which had capsized and sunk at Port Elizabeth. In the early hours of 24 July 1974 Somerset was dispatched to Cape Agulhas to assist with the salvage of the Oriental Pioneer, poor weather conditions and bad luck rendered this effort unsuccessful.
In 1981 the fishing trawler Aldebaran was successfully raised in Port Elizabeth having laid on the bottom for over two and a half years. Somerset also acted as a standby vessel during submarine shallow water diving operations. In 1983 she assisted in the salvaging of a barge and two whale catchers at Saldanha Bay. In March 1986, Somerset was finally paid off. In 1988 she was donated as a museum ship, moored at the waterfront at Cape Town. She is the only boom defence vessel remaining in the world. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAS_Somerset)
SAS Somerset on the synchro-lift 04/06/1988
SAS Somerset on the synchro-lift 04/06/1988
The following images were taken by Dylan Knott on 17 February and April 2019. Sadly it appears as if the Somerset is to be broken up. Images are used with permission and are copyright to the photographer.
St John’s College in Houghton has a very strong connection to the military, and there are two chapels on the premises. The larger chapel houses the Roll of Honour, whereas the Crypt Chapel has the Delville Wood Cross in it. I have dealt with that chapel in a previous post and this post really deals with the Roll of Honour. Unfortunately my images are less than satisfactory, but I was pushed for time and was not able to concentrate on what I was photographing, which is probably why it has taken so long for these images to appear in the first place.
I really started working on the Roll of Honour as a result of my involvement with “Lives of the First World War”, and really looked at the 1914-1918 portion of the Roll of Honour and created a community for it (Community will be unavailable until July 2020). I had hoped to be able to tie a name into a specific record but I was not always successful. The problem really is that some names tie into a number of possibles, or don’t tie into anybody and without more details I am just unable to do anything except guess, and even then I cannot. The results here may not be correct and I do welcome any help with them.
The inscriptions are on wooden panels and it was not easy to read them which is why I took an image with the flash and an image without one. Images link to either CWGC or South African War Graves Project. There are 4 sections to this page: World War 1, World War 2, Post World War, Private Memorials.
I visited the village of Overbury in Worcestershire on 20 October 2018 to photograph the war graves and war memorial in St Faith’s Churchyard. The war memorial is incorporated in the lych gate which makes it hard to photograph the inscriptions on the sides. There are 5 CWGC graves in the churchyard.
Kemerton is a small village in a string of villages between Tewkesbury and Evesham. I visited the village to photograph the memorial on 20/10/2018.
The War Memorial is described as a “Latin Limestone Cross atop a tall shaft, which is on a 5 stage base. The design of the cross was adapted from an ancient village cross in the village of Laycock.” (https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/32460). It was unveiled on 9 January 1921, and was made by Sir Herbert Baker RA (possibly the architect?), Messrs E T Taylor of Tewkesbury and Mr A Stanley of Kemerton. It is a Grade II listed structure.
There are 20 names from the First World War and 7 from the Second World War on the memorial.
The memorial may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates: 52.033202°, -2.079959°.
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.
“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.
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 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.