musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: Heritage

Remembering SAS President Kruger

One of three sister ships (President Steyn, Pretorius and Kruger),  was a Type 12 Frigate, acquired by the South African Navy in the 1960’s. Built in the United Kingdom, she was launched on 20 October 1960 from the Yarrow Shipbuilders, Scotstoun.

SAS President Kruger (F150)

On 18 February 1982, the vessel was conducting anti-submarine exercises with her sister ship the SAS President Pretorius, the submarine SAS Emily Hobhouse and the replenishment ship SAS Tafelberg.

SAS Tafelberg replenishing a frigate (source unknown)

The President Kruger was stationed on the Tafelberg’s port side between 10 and 330 degrees, while the the President Pretorius had a reciprocal box on the starboard side. At approximately 4 am, the whole formation had to change direction by 154 degrees which would result in an almost complete reversal in direction. To maintain station the frigates would change direction first to maintain their positions ahead of the  Tafelberg on the new heading. President Kruger had two possible options: turn 200 degrees to port, or 154 degrees to starboard. The starboard turn was a much smaller one but was much more dangerous as it involved  turning towards the Pretorius and Tafelberg.  

The officer of the watch elected to make the starboard turn, initiating 10 a degree turn. that had a larger radius and would take longer to execute than a 15 degree turn, Critically while executing the turn, the operations room lost radar contact with the Tafelberg in the radar clutter. An argument ensued between the officer of the watch and the principal warfare officer over the degree of wheel to apply, it was however too late and the bows of the much bigger Tafelberg impacted the President Kruger on her port side.

The President Kruger sank 78 nautical miles (144 km) south west of Cape Point, with the loss of  16 lives. Because the impact was in the senior ratings mess most of the casualties were Petty Officers which impacted on the Navy due to the loss of so many senior ratings.

Roll of Honour:
AB. G.T. Benjamin
CPO J.P. Booysen
 PO. S.P. Bothma
 PO. G.A.F. Brind
 PO R.C. Bulterman
 PO. G.W. De Villiers
 PO. E. Koen
 PO. H. Lotter
 PO. R.A. Mc Master
 PO. R.F. Skeates
 CPO. H.W. Smit
PO. W.R. Smith
 CPO. W.M.G. Van Tonder
 CPO. D. Webb
 PO. M.B.R. Whiteley
 PO. C.J. Wium
 
1982 Naval Casualties at the SADF Wall of Remembrance
At the naval board of inquiry it was found that there was a  lack of seamanship by the captain and officers of the ship. The inquest apportioned blame on the captain and PWO. However none of the officers was court-martialled.
 
There is a comprehensive look at South African naval casualties on the Observation Post blog
 
DRW © 2019. Created 18/02/2019. The ship two images I cannot source. They come from my collection, but I have no idea where the originals came from. If you are the copyright holder please contact me so that I may acknowledge your historic images.

 

Updated: 17/02/2019 — 08:22

Remembering SAS Southern Floe

HMSAS Southern Floe. (11/02/1941)

One of four Southern Class whalers taken over by the Navy from Southern Whaling & Sealing Co. Ltd., Durban. The four ships were renamed HMSAS Southern Maid, HMSAS Southern Sea, HMSAS Southern Isles and HMSAS Southern Floe. The four little ships, with their complement of 20-25 men,  “went up north” in December 1940. In January 1941, Southern Floe and her sister ship Southern Sea arrived at Tobruk to take over patrol duties along the mine free swept channels and to escort any ships through them.  

HMSAS Southern Maid. (SA Museum of Military History)

On 11 February 1941,  HMSAS Southern Sea arrived at the rendezvous two miles east of Tobruk where she was to meet Southern Floe,  but there was no sign of her. A common enough occurrence as often ships would be delayed by weather or mechanical difficulties or even enemy action. However, a passing destroyer notified the vessel that they had picked up a stoker from the vessel, clinging to some wreckage. The stoker, CJ Jones RNVR, was the sole survivor of the ship, and he explained that there had been a heavy explosion on board and he had barely escaped with his life.  24 Men lost their lives; although never confirmed it is assumed that the vessel had struck a mine. 

CWGC lists 26 South African Naval Casualties from that date as being commemorated on Plymouth Naval Memorial.  

Casualty List from CWGC

There is a comprehensive look at South African naval casualties on the Observation Post blog

DRW © 2018-2019. Created 06/02/2019

Updated: 17/02/2019 — 08:21

Happy Birthday 747

On February 9, 1969, the “Queen of the Skies” made her first flight, and début in the world of transportation. The iconic Boeing 747 (aka “Jumbo Jet”), entered service on January 22, 1970, on Pan Am’s New York–London route, and has been around almost as long as I have; and it is expected there will still be examples flying in 20 years time. My own memories of the Jumbo date back to when the South African Airways pavilion at the Rand Easter Show had a full scale mock-up of the interior of the aircraft. We were in awe of the rows and rows of seats, and could only dream of flying in one. 

My first flight in a Jumbo was on board a Boeing 747-SP from Johannesburg to Seychelles in 1989, and it was chartered Luxair branded aircraft and not a regular commercial flight.

747-SP (Seychelles)

My next flights were with KLM and they were from Johannesburg to Schipol and back and they happened in 2000 and 2001. The return trip was on board a “Kombi” version and the image below I took on my way back to South Africa, but this is not the aircraft I flew in. This is a 747-206B.

747-206B (Schipol)

In 2008 I flew long haul to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, and this is probably my favourite airline.  The image below is of our aircraft on the leg from South Africa, but unfortunately I am unable to identify her.  Our return flight was at night so I did not get any images of the aircraft. However, I seem to think these were 747-400’s and they were very comfortable (or as comfortable as you can get in economy).

My next flights also happened in 2008 and that was a return to the UK, travelling with Virgin Atlantic. I do not have pics of the onward flight, but we flew back on 747-4Q8 G-VBIG “Tinker Belle”.

747-4Q8 G-VBIG “Tinker Belle” (Heathrow)

I also managed to watch this lady landing while waiting for a connection at Heathrow. I think she is a 747-400 but cannot be sure. 

Strangely enough I have not flown on an SAA Jumbo, although the images below are of the two 747’s preserved at the SAA Museum at Rand Airport that I visited in 2009. 

Boeing 747-200, ZS-SAN “Lebombo”

SAA 747-200, ZS-SAN “Lebombo”

Lebombo is the first Jumbo that SAA operated and she was delivered on 22 October 1971, and was in service for 31 years, 11 months, 14 Days. She landed at Rand Airport on Friday 5 March 2004 and it was a very close landing given that Rand Airport is not as large as the international airports that she was used to.  I was fortunate enough to have a tour of her at the museum, although the cockpit and upper deck was out of bounds. 

The museum page on the aircraft  and her service is well worth a visit (as is the real aircraft).

 

747SP-44 ZS-SPC “Maluti”

She was delivered on 11 June 1976 and made her last flight on 0 September 2006.  Unfortunately she was not open at the time of my visit, but she does make an interesting comparison to her fleetmate.

Museum page on Maluti

It is hard to think that in a few years time we will only see Jumbo Jets in movies or in pictures, however, it could be that this aircraft could enter the realm of long lived classics like the DC3. I like to think that they will be with us for a long time, although realistically there are much more economical aircraft around. It is probably the most recognisable passenger jet to fly, and I do not know about others but I really enjoyed travelling in a Jumbo. 

The London Science Museum has a sliced section of a Jumbo on display, although getting a decent image of it is very difficult. 

When I saw it in 2017 I could not help but ask myself what happened to the mock-up that I saw as a child? it probably ended up as scrap somewhere.

The skies will not be the same without that familiar shape that we all took for granted, but the replacements are cleaner, more efficient and hopefully safer, but they all however seem to use toilets designed in 1920! I may dislike airports but enjoy flying and I am glad I was able to experience these before it is too late. I have flown on the A340-600 as well as the A380 and neither compare to my experiences with the good old Jumbo. 

DRW © 2019, created 09/02/2019 

Updated: 17/02/2019 — 08:21

Ancient lights and ancient alleys

Tewkesbury is a very old and somewhat quirky place, and I have spotted quite a few things that have left me rooting around for answers. This post is really about a sign that I saw on the back of a building over an alley…..​

My first thoughts were “What a cool name for a building.” However, there is more to this than meets the eye, and I discovered that by accident while reading a post on Atlasobscura

In short the “Right to light is a form of easement in English law that gives a long-standing owner of a building with windows a right to maintain the level of illumination. It is based on the Ancient Lights law..

In effect, the owner of a building with windows that have received natural daylight for 20 years or more is entitled to forbid any construction or other obstruction that would deprive him or her of that illumination. Neighbours cannot build anything that would block the light without permission. The owner may build more or larger windows but cannot enlarge their new windows before the new period of 20 years has expired.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_light)

The area above straddles what is known as Eagle’s Alley; one of the many alleys and courts that exist in the town. From the front the entrance may be seen between Parsons and The Card Rack but whether the two buildings are connected by that short length of brickwork and a passage  I cannot say. 

Now that I have shed some light on Ancient Lights and alleys I may as well cover a few other places while I am about it.  Unfortunately there is not a lot to see in the alleys and courts and they do not make for interesting photography.

The High Street entrance to Warder’s Alley has a large map on it that shows the many courts and alleys that are in the town, but it is awkward to photograph. It was created by E. Guilding in 2017.

Wall’s Court

Lilley’s Alley

Clark’s Alley

Old Baptist Chapel Court

This is where the old Baptist Chapel Graveyard is.

Wall’s Court

Ancilles Court

Fletcher’s Alley

I will probably add more to this post as I find more of the pics I have taken of these passages, some are really fascinating, but cataloguing them is a different kettle of fish. In fact, I think I will leave this notice for now because who knows what else I will uncover as I start hunting them down.

DRW © 2019. Created 27/01/2019, added nore images 03/02/2019

Updated: 17/02/2019 — 08:21

The loss of HMY Iolaire

Over the years I have read about many disaster’s at sea and of course the Titanic springs to mind almost instinctively. However, in October 2017 I discovered yet another disaster that has slipped below the radar, and I was determined to create some way to commemorate the men who lost their lives  in the disaster 100 years ago on this day. It was an uphill slog because unfortunately accuracy is difficult because of the poor records, contradicting evidence and the multiplicity of the same names being used.  Unfortunately I was not able to get anybody involved with the disaster commemorations to look at what I did and assist in getting it correct. 

The HMY community on LIves of the First World War.

HMY Iolaire was a former private yacht that had been pressed into naval service in the Outer Hebrides during the First World War, and on old years eve 1918 she was hurriedly loaded with over 200 members of the Royal Naval Reserve to take them home to the Island of Lewis on leave.  That passage is fraught with danger for those who do not know these waters; rough seas, an unforgiving coastline and submerged reefs are all just waiting for the right moment to spring their deadly trap.

The RNR men were all inhabitants from this area, most had served and survived through the war years, often serving in minelayers or small craft that performed a very necessary function, but without the glitz and glamour associated with a much larger vessel. Their own knowledge of the sea meant that these experienced seamen were much in demand by the Royal Navy, and they performed admirably in the roles they filled. It was almost the beginning of a new year and they had survived the war and the flu epidemic and Hogmanay was approaching. The Iolaire would take them home to waiting families, and there were more men than spaces on that ill-fated vessel.  Crowded with happy reservists she would sail into destiny from the pier at  Kyle of Lochalsh. 

Back home on Lewis; parents, wives and children were preparing to welcome home their men, it would be a festive occasion because some of the men had not been home in a long time, and with the war over all that was left was demobilisation and a final return home and civilian life. On board the yacht some of the men slept, some talked, others swapped yarns and compared their military service with men that they did not know. The master of the vessel was Commander Richard Gordon Mason and once they had sailed the commander went below, presumably to sleep, leaving  Lieutenant Leonard Edmund Cotter in charge. These were not amateur seamen but experienced men who knew how to handle ships. 

The Beasts of Holm (Gael: Biastan Thuilm) is a rocky outcrop near the harbour and Iolaire was driving towards it, with seemingly nobody in charge attempting to rectify the situation.  To make matters worse the weather was starting to get rough, and the darkness compounded the problem.  It also emerged that there was no lookout stationed in the bows of the vessel, although given the darkness and how little time there would be to make course corrections it was really a moot point. 

“The Beasts of Holm rocks near Stornoway on Isle of Lewis Scotland” by Dave Conner is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (image resized)

Below the men had no way of knowing the calamity to come, and when the ship struck the rocks they were all in immediate danger. The chances are that many died almost immediately, but for others it was the beginning of a life or death struggle. Many were encumbered by their heavy uniforms and unfamiliarity with the ship, To make matters worse she did not have life-saving equipment for them all, the lifeboats were few, and in the heaving seas trying to launch them successfully would be almost impossible as the ship plunged and ground her iron plates on the rocks.

The tragedy was unfolding almost 20 yards from land, but nobody on land was aware that a ship was foundering on their doorstep, Some men tried to swim for safety but in the cold wild waters almost none would make it. One brave man, John F. Macleod from Ness, Isle of Lewis, managed to get ashore with a rope and a hand over hand crossing was established, but the sea would clear that vital rope of its cargo on more than one occasion, but men were getting ashore,  often battered and bleeding but alive.

There were really many things that went wrong on that night and once the alarm had been sounded on land things moved at a frustratingly slow pace; people had to be woken up, keys had to be found, horses found, cars hired and so on. By the time all of it had been coordinated it was too late, the ship had gone down, those who could reach safety had, although one man still clung to the mast. The morning light revealed the carnage, dead men washed up on the shore, or drifting in the sea, exhausted survivors looking for help and trying to find their friends or family that may have survived. The full horror was still to come as the islanders tried to take stock of what had happened. Isolated families were notified and the festivities of Hogmanay would be forgotten as married women found that they were now widows while their children were unable to understand the magnitude of the tragedy that was unfolding around them.

Aftermath.

The dead were gradually gathered in and taken to a hastily evacuated ammunition store that now served as a mortuary. Small boats scoured the area looking for and recovering bodies, while parties on shore walked the jagged coastline, hoping to find survivors, but the sea had not given up all of it’s dead.  Of the ship there was little trace, and a number of bodies were invariably trapped within its flooded compartments.

The community where this disaster had unfolded was never the same again, families would grieve for many years, while those who had lived through it would suffer from “survivors guilt”. A commission of inquiry was set up but it could find no real reason for why the ship ended up on the Beasts of Holm in the first place. There was nobody alive who could explain the sequence of events on the bridge that had led to the ship hitting the rocks, and naturally scapegoats would be sought so as not to throw the spotlight on high ranking officers or the Admiralty. 

A further inquiry was launched to establish more facts and possibly apportion blame, and generally it seemed to do a reasonable job given the difficulties involved, but no real reason behind the accident was ever found. Those that knew went down with the ship.  

The dead are buried in many places. I found a crewman buried in Portsmouth while a search at CWGC under 01/01/1919 will bring up a long list of men who are buried in a number of cemeteries in the community and surrounding settlements, while some are commemorated on the Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham Naval Memorials. There is a memorial to those who lost their lives on the Island of Lewis, but is is a rarely visited memorial because the story is almost forgotten.

The Iolaire Memorial, Holm Point, near Stornoway, Lewis

Young children would grow and watch as the world plunged once again into a mad war, some would following in the footsteps of the previous generation and serve their country, and once again women would mourn those who never returned. The story of the sinking of the Iolaire is more than a story about a small ship foundering, it is about complacency and negligence and about a community ripped apart in the early morning of a new year. 

Sadly the men of the Iolaire are mostly forgotten now, occasionally someone like me will stumble on the story and ask the same questions that were asked almost 100 years ago. We will not find any answers either. Unfortunately a number of difficulties facing anybody who is researching the disaster is trying to make sense of the Scottish naming conventions that often leave a researcher with multiple occurrences of the same name. There is also a lack of information in general as to the men who served in the Merchant Navy as well as the Royal Navy Reserve,  most of these me were members of the latter. Fortunately somebody has done the work for me and there is a Roll of Honour that I found very useful. 

There is not a lot of information out there. A good place to start is the The sinking of H.M.Y. Iolaire – 1 January 1919 page, as well as the Wikipedia page and of course the relevant CWGC pages for individual casualties. I bought a very good book called: “When I Heard the Bell: The Loss of the Iolaire” by John MacLeod (Edinburgh: Birlinn Press. ISBN 978-1-84158-858-2.), and it went into aspects that I had not even considered before.  Another book is due to be launched in 2018 called “The Darkest Dawn: The Story of The Iolaire Disaster” by Malcolm Macdonald and Donald John Macleod. 

The Iolaire was built in 1881 by Ferguson of Leith. (634 tons) and her original name was Iolanthe. This was later changed to Mione, and later, to Amalthaea. She is however not to be confused with the  Iolaire that was owned by Sir Donald Currie. In 1915, the luxury sailing yacht Amalthaea was commandeered by the Admiralty and converted and armed for anti-submarine warfare and coastal patrols. Her owner was Mr Michael Duff-Assheton Smith, who later became Sir Michael Duff. He had bought her from the Duke of Westminster.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 21/07/2017. Image of Iolaire Memorial is © Stephen Branley and is being used under the the Creative Commons  Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license. Image has been cropped, darkened  and resized. “The Beasts of Holm rocks near Stornoway on Isle of Lewis Scotland” by Dave Conner is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:42

Hungry Elephants on the loose!

There are many things to see in Cheltenham, and I used to see the Elephant Rampage mosaics in lane called Grosvenor Place South ( 51.898817°,  -2.071789°) each time I went to the Lidl in Cheltenham, and I have always meant to use the images but never did. Today I am finally posting the pics of the mosaic. Unfortunately some of the name plates have been stolen, and I hope to root around and see whether I can at least add in the information. The story is really about the circus that came to town and the elephants hat made an unscheduled stop. I am posting them in the direction that they are supposed to be viewed from (top to bottom in this case). The story is told in better detail at http://cheltenhamdailyphoto-marley.blogspot.com/2008/04/elephant-rampage.html

Enticed by the irresistible aroma drifting from Bloodworths Corn Merchants they raided the feed store
Their keeper frantically struggled to control their errant charges
Amazed Cheltonians and the local constabulary watched with alarm and delight

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 23/12/2018

Updated: 23/12/2018 — 08:24

Revisiting Soldier’s Corner

The last time I was in Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol was October 2015, and on that visit I discovered that the original ledger stones had been installed on what is known as “Soldier’s Corner”. This area was established by the Bristol Red Cross who placed the original ledger stones on the graves in the 1920’s. Many plots have more than one soldier buried in them so there are multiple names on some stones. However, the ledger stones were not maintained by the CWGC although the screen wall behind them was. 

At some point the ledger stones were removed from the plot and stored underneath the Anglican Chapel where they were rediscovered, along with the original cross that used to be mounted on the plot. It was decided to re-install them, although many were broken or damaged and some were missing altogether. It was these restored stones that I went and photographed in 2015.

Wind forward to December 2017, the Arnos Vale Cemetery Trust and CWGC came to an agreement about the restoration of Soldier’s Corner, that involved replacing some stones, repairing and cleaning others and re-turfing the plot, thereby restoring it to what it may have looked like in the 1920’s. The project  was completed on 8 December 2018 and the unveiling of the plot was to coincide with the unveiling of the new headstone for Private William Walker, AIF, who died in Bristol on 11 December 1918.  I had been in contact with the family of Private Walker due to my work with Lives of the First World War and was invited to attend the unveiling and meet the faces behind the emails, I am however not a related to the family in spite of my surname. 

And that is the background to why I was about to head off to Bristol on this cloudy, windy, damp and dodgy Saturday. 

My major concerns for the day were twofold: weather and timing. The weather had been clearing in Tewkesbury when I left, but the forecast for Bristol was 50% chance of rain. The rising sun made a rare appearance for me, signifying that I needed to make the trip. 

When I did the navigation for the trip I was concerned that the service was only starting at 2pm, and I had two options on trains, 14H45 or 15H00, the next trains were nearly 2 hours later, and anything after that was just out. I really had to watch my timing very carefully. Unfortunately though Bath was holding some sort of market and when the train got to Cheltenham it was swamped. To make matters worse it was only a 2 coach train and it filled even more when we reached Gloucester, and even more as we neared Bristol. It was so bad that the train ended up standing longer at each station as people struggled to board or get off. It was a tight squeeze as you can see from my image below at Bristol Temple Meads.

I had planned on grabbing a taxi at Temple Meads but the roadworks in front of the station caused the taxi queue to stand still. It took me less time to walk out of the station and to the road than it did for a taxi that had a fare.  It is roughly 20- 30 minutes walk to the cemetery depending on how many detours I make, but on this day I made none because I was already running 20 minutes late. I had a list of 77 graves that were still outstanding from Arnos Vale and I was hoping to at least find a few of them between when I arrived and when I had to attend the function. However, I had forgotten what Arnos Vale was like. For starters it is a very hilly place and very overgrown in parts.

Recent rains had also made the going very treacherous in places so I would have to try to stick to paths where possible. The odd thing is that once I was in the cemetery and ready to search I could feel the old sensations of enjoyment come back. I used to love walking these cemeteries but have cut down considerably on them because of my own mobility issues these past 2 years. When Summer comes it is Arnos Vale and I!

Soldiers Corner was looking so much better than it had since I had last seen it. Compare the image below with the one at the top of the page.

There were two people busy planting flags and planning for the event, and after comparing notes I tackled the 82 ledger stones that I had to photograph.

Amongst the stones that was replaced was number 674, which is the grave of A Dowling, AG. Lavers, PC. Mitchell, W Toogood and Jacobus Mozupe (or Molupe). A South African, he died in Bristol on 28 August 1917 and he shares his grave with 4 others. Unfortunately the ledger stone for 674 was not amongst those reinstalled in 2015 and he was now afforded a proper marker just like those around him.

The grave on the left is 674, while the grave on the right (675) is for HG Jones, GW. Turner, M Modlala (Madhlala), W Podmore and WT. Hellier. Gunner Jones and Private Madhlala are both South Africans, of which there are 5 tagged to Arnos Vale.

The family gathering I was attending was being held in the former Anglican Chapel which also has a small crypt beneath it.  This is an image I took of it a few years back. 

I did manage to peek inside it in 2015, although this time around it did not have all the trappings of a wedding reception. I always wonder what it looked like way back when it was being used for its original purpose.

The family gathering was interesting, because it did bring through that you really needed a bit of genealogist in you to be able to fully appreciate the lives of those who are buried all around the chapel. William Walker and his siblings are long passed on, but 100 years down the line we were able to connect to those whom he was close to and to experience the loss of a soldier that died a month after the war had ended. Twice wounded, he had spent 2 years on the Western Front and we will never really know what he went through in those two years. He has not been forgotten though, and hopefully long after we have passed over others will remember him, and the other servicemen and women who gave their lives in the “Great War”.

I briefly went looking for the one grave I visit each time I am at Arnos Vale and this time I was determined to identify her.

Her name was Lillian Sarah Radford, and she was 2 years and when she passed away on 9 March 1902 and she was the daughter of George and Lillian Radford. Her statue is beautiful, and if you don’t know where she is you won’t find her.  The 1901 census records that she was born in Bristol in 1899 and was the youngest of 3 children

Crunch time was rapidly approaching and I had to make a decision whether to stay for the service or not and I decided to leave as it was just too risky with the train situation. I was not in the mood to get stranded in Bristol, and after a quick look around I turned my bows for home. People were arriving all the time and I even spotted a representative from South Africa, and that made up for me leaving. 

It had been quite an emotional trip, as these things usually are, because no matter how many times I see war graves I can never forget that each was connected to 2 other people, and each was affected by the deaths of that loved one, often in a foreign country far away.  

The seven images below are reproduced courtesy of Julian Walker and the CWGC

When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today.

It is strange to see how so many countries were represented at this service, how strangers all came together to remember a soldier who lost his life so long ago. Looking a the images above I was struck by how smart the military personnel were, and how important that wreath laying is. As civilians we often forget that when large scale trouble does occur these are the men and women who are in the forefront, and who will lay down their lives for their countries and loved ones. That was also true for the men and women way back in 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.

The road to the station is a familiar one, I have walked it quite a few times, thankfully the roadworks are complete so walking on the pavement is now possible.

I took a slightly different route as I wanted to see the Avon as it was flowing very strongly, and I was not disappointed.

I also found another Gromit statue at Paintworks, although I could not identify which it was. 

And of course there is a nice bridge to see on the way too.  I have not gotten a name for this one yet, and it does feature in my Banana Bridge post.  It does appear as if another bridge is being built in this area and it is to be called the St Philips Footbridge.

The one thing I do like about Bristol is the street art (not to be confused with those meaningless “tags” so beloved of spray paint purchasers).  This pair caught my eye.

The dogs are raised from the surrounding brickwork, and while the 2nd one seems to have been ruined it really looks awesome.

One of my favourite buildings in Bristol stands just outside the station. It used to be the headquarters of the former Bristol and Exeter Railway,  and was designed by Samuel Fripp and opened in 1854. Alas it is now an office complex, but it really needs to be something more grand like a hotel or museum.

At the station it appeared as if my train was still on time, and I had 10 minutes to grab some pics of the all new Class 800 Azuma that are replacing the long lived HST’s that have dominated train travel in the UK for so many years. I have been trying to get pics of these for quite some time and this time I was successful.

800-031

800-317

On the other platform 47-378 in the Cross Country livery showed these newcomers a thing or 2.

My own train arrived shortly after I hit the shutter and it was a Class 166, and these seem to be appearing more often in my viewfinder. It seemed to have originated in Malvern and not Bath so was reasonably empty, but it could quite easily have been choc-a-block had it come from the opposite direction. I was just relieved that I could get home without having to fight my way onto a train. 

And then we were on our way, it started to drizzle just after we left Bristol, and of course the light was also fading and by the time I reached Ashchurch it was getting dark very fast. The sun leaves us early these days, but soon it will turn and get darker later. Winter however will still be with us for awhile.

My mission was semi complete. I had to sort and label pics and of course write this post as well as send off images to whoever needs them, then there are all those Lives that need new images in my Arnos Vale Community I will probably change things in this post too, but I will leave that till tomorrow.

Mission accomplished. 

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 09/12/2018. Some images courtesy of Julian Walker and the CWGC

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:51

The village tour: Beckford

Continuing where we left off

Beckford (Google Earth:  52.020002°, -2.038073°) was the last village that I wanted to incorporate into my grand village tour that started in October, although there was no real reason to visit it as there was technically no War Memorial that needed photographing. In fact the one object that I originally thought may have been one turned out not to be one. I hit the road at 8.38 on Monday 26th, the plan being to photograph Beckford then continue to Evesham, do some shopping and then return home for lunch and to head to work for the evening shift at 4pm.

The bus travels through Bredon, Kemerton, Overbury, Conderton and finally Beckford. The pillar in the images above is really a road marker with the distances to the various village and towns around. A more modern equivalent also points more or less in the right direction.

The houses below are reasonably new additions I believe. Apparently a passing train caused a fire that decimated the old thatched cottages in this area, but the newer equivalents are not too awful.  

The left hand side of this road is dominated by 3 properties: and from the street you can only really glimpse 2 of them. 

The property to the left of the image above is where the church of St John The Baptist is, and that was where I ended up. 

The Lych Gate in front is the village War Memorial, although there are no names inscribed on it.

And the church behind it is a beauty with perfect proportions and a very nice churchyard surrounding it. There are however no CWGC graves in the churchyard, but there was a surprise in store.

I circumnavigated the church and tried the front door. It was unlocked and I hoped that there was something to see within. I have visited a number of parish churches in the UK and some are truly spectacular, and many are very old; St John’s seems to encapsulate both.  I was pleased to meet a church warden inside and he took me around the church. The village has had a church on this spot for about 1200 years, and a church is referred to as far back as 803 A.D.  It can really be split into 3 sections: the older section being to the left of the spire,

then the spire itself (where the organ is situated),

and finally the area to the right of the spire (where the Altar may be found)

Yes it looks kind of plain, but this building carries a lot of the weight of ages in its structure, as well as the handiwork of those who built it so many centuries ago. There are many unique features in the church, one of the stranger ones is a piece of carved graffiti on one of the pews dated 1710! 

The War Memorial inside the church is a brass plaque, and what makes it unique is that it not only gives the names of the casualties, but also their causes/places of death. There are 17 names on the Memorial plus one name from the 2nd World War. There is also a separate Roll that lists the 80 men from the village who went off to war in 1914. 

Of special interest is the name of Kathleen Bennett, a VAD who died from TB in 1920. She is buried in the churchyard and her home was next to the church. There is also a stained glass window commemorating her. It is quite rare to find a woman on a war memorial, they tended to be conveniently forgotten or omitted. 

I could waffle on about this church for ages, but won’t because this is supposed to be a village tour as opposed to a church tour, but it turned into one because realistically the village life would have been deeply meshed into their parish church, they would be christened in the 15th century font, and would be buried in God’s Acre around it.  

 

The village also has a post office/shop,  but I did not see a local pub but I bet there is one.

My watch put the time at just before 10 am. But my bus would only arrive at 10.57, so I checked for a bus heading back to Tewkesbury and decided to grab that instead. The problem with hanging around for an hour is that realistically once you have walked the village flat you end up having to stand around waiting… and I was not ready to do that for an hour, especially on a full bladder. There is much more to this village than what I had briefly explored, so maybe that is a reason for a return?

And that was Beckford, and the conclusion of my grand village tour. I do need to return to Overbury and visit Conderton, as well as possibly return to Ashton Under Hill, but that’s for another day. I will do a proper ROH post for the church at a later date.

What does the Domesday book have to say about Beckford?

  • HundredTibblestone
  • CountyGloucestershire / Worcestershire
  • Total population: 67 households (very large).
  • Total tax assessed: 11 geld units (very large).
  • Head of manor: Beckford.
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 11 geld units. Taxed on 11.0.
  • Value:
  • Households: 34 villagers. 17 smallholders. 12 slaves. 4 female slaves.
  • Ploughland: 3 lord’s plough teams. 30 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: 1 mill, value 0.03. 1 church.
  • Lord in 1066Rotlesc, a royal Guard.
  • Overlord in 1066King Edward.
  • Lords in 1086Ansfrid of CormeillesKing William.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086King William.
  • Phillimore reference: 1,59

Random Images  

 

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 26/11/2018. The Open Domesday Project and the associated images are kindly made available by Professor J.J.N. Palmer. Images may be reused under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence. 

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:50

The End of the War

Today we commemorate the end of the First World War. The guns fell silent on this day 100 years ago, although they really just went into standby mode for the next global conflict that was a result of the peace that came at the end of 1918.  It is strange to think that in 2014 we were remembering when it started, and now we remember the end. But in that 4 year period what did we do? I know I changed jobs, moved house, got new glasses, built ships, read books, cycled, shopped, ate, slept and brooded. But if you were in the military way back then the chances are you would have been shot at, shelled, gassed, wounded, abused, messed around, and prayed that you would get a “blighty” that would take you home. Time is a strange thing, it can pass so quickly, but drag so slowly.

I was wearing a very large knitted poppy this week and somebody admired it. I explained that the poppy was very big because I have a lot of remembering to do during this period. I remember not only those who I am connected to immediately, but also a whole army of men and women who served in the wars, as well as their families and the many animals that served and died.  My involvement with the South African War Graves Project and the Lives of the First World War project have given me a greater understanding of what we did to each other. The many names on the war memorials and graves that I photograph are always connected to at least 2 other people, who are each connected to two others and so on. If you really look at it hard enough the end result is staggering.

In a few minutes I will be heading out to the War Memorial in Tewkesbury where we will commemorate the people who are named there, and the millions of others who are not listed on a memorial. Mothers, Fathers, Sons and Daughters, Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, Friends and Family. They are all an integral part of the symbolism of the poppy.

13H27 11/11/2018.

Once again Tewkesbury came out in force and we commemorated this dark period of history with a solemn service. The sun blessed our endeavours by shining brightly for the hour that we spent at “The Cross”. This year they read out the names from the memorial, and it kept on occurring to me how many of the names on it were the same;  back in 1914 the town had a much closer knit community, and “joining up” was something that was “done” back then. 

And once again the front of the marching column had reached the memorial before the slightly ragged end had left the Abbey. Children are included in service and I hope that some will take heed of the importance thereof and one day watch their own children march past in a ragged line of sombre expressions and the occasional shy waves. 

And when it was done the clouds came up and the occasional spatter of rain fell, not enough to scatter everybody but enough to change the atmosphere.  The parade marches off and then returns once again, passing the Memorial en route to the Town Hall where the Mayor takes the salute. It can get very crowded there so I tend to stick close to the Memorial to watch the parade as it “Eye’s Right” past us. 

Close by was a little girl in a red coat sitting on her fathers shoulders, and she returned the salute to every group that came past. And, it was not a half baked salute either, but a proper one, and I like to think that those who marched past appreciated her efforts. She made my day and pulled me out of the gloom that I was in.

The crowds have all dispersed and gone home to their roast, 2 veg and spuds, but back then what did Tommy and his mates have to say nearly 3 hours into the armistice? You can bet they were wary of the peace but glad that it was done, and you can bet Pierre and Gunther and soldiers on both sides were equally glad that they had come through it all intact, although some would be scarred mentally and physically for the rest of their lives. You can bet the Nurses and VAD’s did not cease their vigil over the men who were in their care, and you can bet that in homes throughout the world there was joy and sadness in abundance. 

We have not learnt the lessons of the war because sabres are still being rattled as politicians push their own agendas. If it happens again it will be a short war, but a very long nuclear winter will follow. 

The two World Wars made the planet what it is today.  And what would those who lost their lives have said about the mess we are in? I am sure that they would be disgusted.

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created Remembrance Day 2018.

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:50

The village tour: Sedgeberrow

Continuing where we left off….

November had arrived and I decided to head off to Sedgeberrow on the 2nd as I was working evening shift that week and the weather forecast was favourable for that day. I hit the road with the 8.36 bus and hit Sedgeberrow at roughly 9.15. There were two targets in my sights, the War Memorial being the primary target and the church next door the secondary. Irrespective though, I had to get my photography done in an hour so as to get the bus at 10.33, if I missed that one I had an even longer wait!

The village of Sedgeberrow (Google Earth: 52.042744°, -1.964381°) in the Wychavon district of Worcestershire, and about  4.8 km south of Evesham. It stands beside the River Isbourne, a tributary of the River Avon.

The Sedgebarrow War Memorial may be found at 52.045395°,  -1.965749° and really comprises 2 entities:  A Crucifix, described as “Crucifix in stone under a canopy set on three steps. The inscription is on the risers of the steps.” 

And a wall plaque affixed to the wall of the church (unseen in the image but to the left of the crucifix).

And that was it, the rent was paid, I only had an hour to kill. 

The church is called  “St Mary the Virgin” and it is accessed through the lych gate. 

The churchyard is still in use, but there are not too many old headstones in it, although how many are buried there is speculation. Unfortunately it was closed when I was there so I did not get to see inside.  It is a grade II* structure.   British Listed Buildings has the following information:

“Circa 1328-31 for Thomas of Evesham, restored 1866-8 by William Butterfield and extended in 1899……  The church was very heavily restored in 1866-68 by William Butterfield at the expense of Mary Barber in memory of her late husband, the Rev Barber.”  

Next to the church is a house identified as “The Old Rectory”, I could not get to see the front of it, but it is visible from the churchyard, and has a small gate in the fence presumably for the rector to get to church on time.

Realistically I had seen what there was to see in Sedgeberrow and I decided to head back the way I had come (towards Ashton-Under-Hill), and I am afraid most of the houses are relatively new, but there were a few curious structures that caught my eye.

The typical red call box below no longer has a phone and is no longer owned by BT, and is now “maintained” by the local council.

This is the “Old School Cottage”, and I suspect the school they refer to is not the Sedgeberrow C of E First School, but I could be wrong.

There is a set of buildings that ties into what seems to be signposted as “Hall farm”, and behind it was quite a nice selection of old buildings. But, I could not access or see too much that made any sense.

There were quite a lot of these guys all over the place…

And then I ran out of village!

This image was taken across the road from the signpost in the first image, and I suspect it may be Bredon Hill, but I would not put my head on a block and say it is.

(1500×382)

It was time to turn around and head back to the bus stop, and there was 25 minutes in which to get it done by. Some more light sight seeing was in order.

And there is our war memorial. Behind the car and on the right is the “Sedgeberrow Millenium Stone”.

I am afraid I do not have an explanation yet.

Standing at the war memorial looking down Main Street is where I came in on the bus.

The white building on the right is the local pub.

And to the left of the pub is a large open playing field and treed area.  I was very tempted to explore further but it was time to stand at the bus stop ready to flag down the bus. 

Sedgeberrow was complete. It is very unlikely that I will stop here again, as there is nothing really to see except the church and memorial. But, I have the memorial recorded and that is the main thing. My next village to explore may be Beckford, but I will do that on a Saturday morning. For now I can close the door on this chapter of the village tour. 

Oh, and before I forget, the Domesday Book has the following to say:

  • HundredOswaldslow
  • CountyWorcestershire
  • Total population: 21 households (quite large).
  • Total tax assessed: 4 geld units (medium).
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 4 geld units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £3. Value to lord in 1086 £3.
  • Households: 11 villagers. 4 smallholders. 4 slaves. 1 female slave. 1 priest.
  • Ploughland: 2 lord’s plough teams. 7.5 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 8 acres. 2 mills, value 0.5. 0.5 church lands.
  • Lord in 1066Doda.
  • Overlord in 1066Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Lord in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Phillimore reference: 2,63

 The Open Domesday Project and the associated  images are kindly made available by Professor J.J.N. Palmer. Images may be reused under a Creative Commons BY-SA licence.  

Onwards to Beckford…

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Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:50
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