musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: War Memorial

Overbury and out

In October 2018 I visited the village of Overbury as part of my village tour. I had really stopped there to photograph the War Memorial; however the legibility of the memorial is poor due to wear on the stone plaques and base. I did notice a newish screenwall structure in the churchyard, and on a trip through to Evesham saw a stone mason at work on the wall. Could it be they were reproducing the war memorial names onto the screenwall? There was only one way to find out and that was to head out and see for myself. I had to leave enough time for the work to be completed though and as a result I only tackled this visit in 2019.

The image above shows the lychgate of St Faith’s, Overbury. The central plinth has the plaques on either side of it.  The new structure is shown below.

Unfortunately my supposition was wrong and it does not have the Roll of Honour on it, but a list of names of those who may be buried here or who were cremated, with their ashes interred at this spot. There went my theory down the pipes.  I now had anything of up to an hour to spend while waiting for my bus onwards to Evesham. The next hamlet on the road is Conderton, but it is too far to walk to and look around in such a short space of time so I remained in Overbury. I had photographed quite a bit of it in 2018, so I really wanted to add to those images. 

St Faith’s, Overbury

Behind St Faith’s is Overbury Court, a Georgian house dating from 1740. It is privately owned so I did not try for a photograph of it. The gate is in the lane next to the church.

There were too many comings and goings in the lane so I did not even attempt a peek through the railings. But the house has extensive gardens and it is a very picturesque area. You can see part of the roof of the house in the image below.

Heading back towards the bus shelter, I looked left and right and didn’t cross the street.

Looking right (towards Kemerton/Bredon)

You may think that these rural roads are quiet but it was a regular hustle and bustle which was made worse by the narrow roads, parked vehicles, the occasional tractor, horses and delivery vans.

The bus shelter (route towards Tewkesbury)

Possibly the village hall. The window is inscribed “Erected by Robert Martin in the year 1896”

I walked for awhile, enjoying the countryside and the horses having an early breakfast. 

(1500 x 506)

There was also the village cricket pitch for those who have 5 days to spare.

Cricket pitch pavilion

(1500 x 501) The cricket pitch

Dare I say “Howzat?”

This is the road looking back towards Overbury, the building on the left is a pub and the building on the right may have once been a tollgate/booth given how the window impinges onto the road. 

The road to Conderton

(1500 x 533)

Overbury Church Of England First School

The village shop and post office

My mission was accomplished. Had I planned it slightly better I probably would have been able to visit Conderton too, but my planning was not great and I had limited time available to get a bus. I wanted to visit Evesham after this so really had to get on the road. Look, there is my bus, I must go… 

DRW © 2019. Created 30/04/2019

Updated: 04/05/2019 — 08:09

Remember the Mendi

HMT Mendi (21/02/1917)

On 21 February 1917, South Africa lost some 607 African volunteers en route to the battlefields of France when their troopship; HMT Mendi, was in a collision with the SS Darro off St Catherine’s Point on the Isle of Wight. The resulting death toll was high; of the 802 SANLC troops on board some 607 men of the South African contingent perished, as did 30 members of her crew.  The 4230 GRT Mendi (Official number 120875), was owned by the British & African Steam Navigation Company Limited. which was part of Elder, Dempster and Company. She was 370 ft long with a beam of 46 ft and was built by Alexander Stephen & Sons, Glasgow. She was fitted with triple expansion steam engines that gave her a maximum speed of 13 knots.

Model of the SS Mendi by Buddy Bacon, in Simonstown Naval Museum. Used with permission.

On 10 April 2013, while I was in Southampton I decided to visit Hollybrook Cemetery and the Hollybrook Memorial to the missing. 
 

 
This particular memorial at Hollybrook commemorates by name almost 1900 servicemen and women of the Commonwealth land and air forces whose graves are not known, many of whom were lost in transports, torpedoed or mined in home waters. The memorial also bears the names of those who were lost or buried at sea or who died at home but whose bodies could not be recovered for burial.  
 
Sadly, all that is left of their lives is their names on a plaque. And I think that in this case, there is a small piece of England that is uniquely South African. They were men that came from the tip of Africa, to participate as non combatants in a war that they knew nothing about, and they died far from their homes, never reaching their destination, but remaining here, far from the sunshine that was now fading as I took my last few photographs. But if I do think about it, these men were never really forgotten, their families remembered them, and their comrades, but they too have passed on, and  that duty has been passed on to us, a generation of ex-servicemen who also served their country. 
 
However, in a shocking newspaper article on the 17th of February it was revealed that “The department of military veterans has withdrawn support for an “imperial” commemoration of a World War 1 shipping disaster in which 646 mainly black South Africans died” 
A retired senior military officer this week described the department’s decision as “abominable and a disgrace”. He said: “This means no military band or guards in fact no formal military presence at a memorial for South Africans who died on service in war.”
(Article in the Sunday Times 17 February 2019 Front page.) 
 
The stance has drawn severe criticism from veterans and organisations, and sadly the Mendi is once again just a porn in a game called political correctness and white washing of history. 
 

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning

We Will Remember Them.


DRW © 2019. Created 18/02/2019. 

Updated: 24/03/2019 — 13:58

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

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 old 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 at 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

This interior shot was taken on my 2019 trip to Paddington Station

On the other platform 43-378 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: 28/03/2019 — 07:44

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.

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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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DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 02/11/2018 

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:50

The village tour: Ashton-Under-Hill

Continuing where we left off….

I arrived at Ashton-Under-Hill (Google Earth 52.039141°, -2.003869°) at roughly 9.08 am. This village intrigued me the most because it bigger than the two I had just visited, and it had an interesting mix of old buildings. There was a  War Memorial and a church with two CWGC graves in it.  The Saturday bus also seems to take a slightly different route to the weekday bus and that affected what I had to do because the bus dropped me off past my intended targets. 

Once it dropped me off it would travel a bit further, reverse, turn around and head towards Sedgeberrow and Evesham.  

There it goes now! I stayed with this raised embankment because the War Memorial was situated on it.  From what I read this was not the original location of the memorial, and it appears to have been originally located on private land. 

It is described as “Cross, with laurel wreath wrapped round the shaft, on a stepped square base,” it has 8 names from the First World War and 2 from the second. The front is engraved as follows:

There are also shorter name lists on either side of the memorial. 

The memorial looks out over the “Ashton First School and Village Hall”

The rent was partly paid, and I continued my walk to my next stop which is the church of St Barbara which is roughly 200 metres away.

If you did not know the church was there you would probably have missed seeing it, as it is set back from the road and only the lych gate and a badly eroded 15th century cross is situated in front of it. The 17th century thatched cottage is what drew my attention originally and I wonder whether it was the rectory?

There are two casualties buried in the churchyard, 1 from each of the World Wars.

There is a small door that can be seen between the two windows in the image above, and it is engraved 1624. Like so many parish churches it is a mix of old and older. The oldest parts date from Norman times, represented by the South doorway with its characteristic rounded arch. The Tower with its 6 bell ring, was begun in the 13th century. while the Chancel was rebuilt in 1624 by Sir John Franklin, then Lord of the Manor.  St Barbara is the patron saint of armourers, gunners and blacksmiths. (https://www.ashtonunderhill.org.uk/organisations/st_barbaras/). The lych gate dates from Mach 1931

Amazingly the church was unlocked and I was able to see inside of it. 

It is not a spectacular church, but it did have some lovely stained glass in it. The ROH was small but there were 3 personal memorials in it, one of which I am reproducing here because it is such a poignant one.

Then it was grave hunting time and I battled to find the one grave which was a private memorial. It too had been recently restored which is probably why I could not find it. Many of the private memorials are in a poor condition and are the responsibility of the family. The rent was paid, it was time to look around and get my bus onwards to Evesham. It was due at 10.22 but it was only 9.43. There was one more building that I wanted to find and apart from that I had the 40 minutes to idle.

Twas time to enjoy the view. 

The village history says: 

“…  A walk along the almost mile long village street (now called Beckford Road to the south and Elmley Road to the north) will take the visitor past a wide selection of the local rural architecture typical of both the Cotswolds and the Vale of Evesham.

In addition to timber-framed and stone cottages there is a black and white farmhouse dating back to the 15th century, an elegant stone manor house built before 1700, tall brick houses from around 1800, also many red-brick Victorian cottages and a scattering of 20th century houses in a variety of styles. The non-conformist chapel was built in the 1920s. The village also has two schools; the old Village school in the centre built in the 1860s with the more modern village hall attached, and at the north end the 1960s Middle School. The village pub ‘The Star Inn’ offers a warm welcome, traditional Ales and home-cooked food.”

 (https://www.ashtonunderhill.org.uk/information/history.shtml)

The “non-conformist chapel” mentioned in the history of the village is the other building that I was interested in. 

It had quite a number of unveiling stones on it, which was quite odd, it is possible that everybody wanted to be a part of it. 

Unfortunately I was not able to get into the building, but it cannot be very large inside. It is however, a very interesting shape. 

My meanderings continued.

Like the other two villages I had passed through, Ashton-Under-Hill has a mention in the Domesday Book.

And just in time for my bus too. I am off to Evesham to get more images from the museum, I will continue this grand tour at a latter time, visiting Beckford and Sedgeberrow. As they say in the classics:

Next up is Sedgebarrow; just follow the arrow…  

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DRW 2018 – 2019. Created 21/10/2018.  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 — 06:49

The villages en route to Evesham

My first trip to visit Evesham in May 2018 is the key to what has become of something of an obsession.  The bus goes through a number of typical English villages, namely Bredon, Lower Westmancote, Kemerton, Overbury, Beckford, Little Beckford, Ashton Under Hill, Sedgeberrow, and finally Fairfield. It is somewhat of a long trip but there is a lot to see and try to photograph (unsuccessfully I may add). By the process of elimination I have narrowed down the list of villages to visit to 4, namely Kemerton, Overbury, Ashton-Under-Hill and Sedgeberrow because they either have a church with CWGC graves in them, or a war memorial. 

I have been able to grab pics of the following through the bus window: 

Ashton Under Hill War Memorial. ( 52.039634°, -2.005106°)  

20/10/2018: Ashton-Under-Hill is “in the bag”. 

Kemerton War Memorial. ( 52.033202°,  -2.079959°)

20/10/2018. Kemerton is “In the bag”

Beckford. (Marker on an island, may not be a war memorial. 52.020002°,  -2.038073°)  

26/11/2018: Beckford is “In the bag”

Sedgebarrow War Memorial (52.045395°,  -1.965749°)

Sedgeberrow is in the bag

As far as churches go, there are two I have to check out:  St Faith’s Church in Overbury (52.03491, -2.0642) has 5 CWGC Burials in it  (20/10/2018. Overbury is “In the bag”),  while  St Barbara’s in Ashton-Under-Hill (52.03773 , -2.00571) has 2 CWGC Burials in it. (20/10/2018: Ashton-Under-Hill is “in the bag”. )

Ashton-Under-Hill

I intend village hopping, starting off at Kemerton, then moving onto Overbury, and Ashton-Under-Hill, then completing the trip to Evesham and doing Sedgeberrow on the way back as the bus takes a slightly different route when it returns from Evesham.  Because of the timetable spacing I am looking at an hour in each village, although the Overbury stop may be longer due to an oddity in the timetable. 

I had everything planned for the 4th of October, but shift changes at work changed my plans, so it will either happen when next I am on evenings or on a Saturday morning.   Watch this space as they say in the classics. 

**Update**

The grand tour commenced in the 20th of October. You can read about it from the start page (Kemerton and Overbury)

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DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 09/10/2018. Added links to the grand tour 21/10/2018

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:48

Retrospectively Wading through Weymouth

This is another retrospective blogpost that I should have done way back in 2013, on returning from Weymouth for a job interview. The exif data puts the images at 19 June 2013.

Weymouth is a seaside town in Dorset, and I was hoping to really see what the Brits were like when they were on their summer hols.  I on the other hand was burdened with a tie and my usual interview gear so could not get dirty or sweat stained, and I would have to make sure that I was on time for the interview. I even left my bucket and spade at home!

(1500×498) I do like to be beside the seaside…

I also could not dally too long either as I had a train to catch back to Southampton.

The station was close to the beach, but I do recall stopping at a taxi service to get a business card just in case I needed to get a taxi in a hurry.  Because it is a seaside town most of what I saw was centered around the beachfront, although I did make an excursion into the industrial area. Naturally war memorials were priorities to photograph, and any big ships too although Weymouth Harbour is really geared towards the fishing, pleasure craft and tourism industry. 

It was not too crowded either, although that could be because I had arrived while everybody was having breakfast. ​I hoped that the much loved seaside landlady trope had not been perpetuated into our new century and I am sure many of the beachside “boarding houses” had been where so many of the typical seaside holiday stories had been written. 

   

There were three War Memorials of note along this stretch of beachfront. The first was an ANZAC memorial for the First World War, I covered this memorial in allatsea

In the image above you can see the town War Memorial with a poppy field between them.  It commemorated “The Citizens of the Borough who made the Supreme Sacrifice during the Second World War”. It also lists those lost during World War 1.  (allatsea link)

Weymouth, being a port city was also defended by Fort Nothe which is situated at the end of the Nothe Peninsula on at the entrance to the harbour. I would have liked to have had a close look at it but did not have the time to do so.

 

This side of the harbour mouth was the home of one of those strange towers with a rotating doughnut on it, although it was not in operation by the looks of it. There was construction work going on in that area so I could not really see what I wanted to. You can see the tower sticking out in the image below.

King George III was a frequent visitor to the town and he has a statue in it.

The king used to take a dip there because he had been advised to bathe in seawater to help with his Porphyria.  Unlike today one did not just leap into the sea, and the much talked about “bathing machine” was taken out into the water, whereupon the person could have his paddle in private.  Huzzah! they even have a bathing machine on display.

Staying with our beach theme, my experience of going to the seaside as a child was probably very different to that of a child in England, and there were some activities that we did not seem to have in common during my era. The first being the Punch ‘n Judy show:

Although I suspect Mr Punch has been sanitised and made more politically correct, and of course the seaside donkey ride. 

Donkeys at the seaside in Weymouth

It was quite a strange feeling walking along this beachfront because so many odd memories kept on popping up and I had to resist the temptation to roll up me trouser legs, tie a knotted handkerchief around my head and go for a paddle in the sea.  I now headed for the harbour as time was marching and the harbour was a good place to navigate from. A lifting bascule bridge joins the two sides of the harbour and allows access to the inner harbour.

I stopped at the church that you can see on the left and came away with one very poignant image. It is quite odd to think that he really lives on in this church while his “schoolfellows and friends” have all been lost to memory.

Shortly after my harbour visit I headed off to my interview in the industrial area. It was not a long walk, but it was becoming quite a hot day and I longed to dispose of that tie. I did not get the job though, and I suspect I was much too under qualified anyway. On my way back I paused at the local cemetery and church before arriving back in town.  I had time to kill so headed off along the Esplanade. There was a church in the distance that I wanted to have a look at.

(1500×503) A church in the distance…

The esplanade is composed of converted Georgian terraces that serve as flats, shops, hotels and guest houses. Many were built between 1770 and 1855 and they  form a long, continuous arc of buildings which face Weymouth Bay.

This iteration of the Royal Hotel hotel was opened in 1899 and is a Grade II listed building. During World War 2 it was requisitioned for use as the local headquarters of the United States military.

The Memorial in front of the building serves as a reminder of the part Weymouth played in the invasion of Normandie.

 The inscription reads:

IN MEMORY OF AMERICAN SERVICEMEN 1939-1945. 1944-1945. 

THE MAJOR PART OF THE AMERICAN ASSAULT FORCE WHICH

 LANDED ON THE SHORES OF FRANCE 6 JUNE 1944 WAS LAUNCHED

FROM WEYMOUTH AND PORTLAND HARBORS. FROM 6 JUNE 1944 TO 7 MAY 1945, 517,816 TROOPS AND 144,093 VEHICLES EMBARKED 

FROM THE HARBORS. MANY OF THE TROOPS LEFT FROM WEYMOUTH PIER. THE REMAINDER OF THE TROOPS AND ALL THE VEHICLES PASSED THROUGH/ WEYMOUTH EN ROUTE TO PORTLAND POINTS OF EMBARKATION.

PRESENTED BY THE 14TH MAJOR PORT, U.S. ARMY. (Added JUNE 1999:) 

There is also an a reminder of the tragedy that befell man who were being trained for the assault at Lyme Bay:

28 APRIL 1944
LYME BAY
749 DIED DURING D-DAY 
TRAINING EXERCISE ‘TIGER’
WHEN A CONVOY OF LSTS WAS ATTACKED BY E-BOATS
OFF PORTLAND
24 DECEMBER 1944.

The other landmark in this area is the Jubilee Clock Tower, built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 50 years of reign in 1887. 

My destination was in sight, although still quite a walk away. If only I had my bicycle back then. 

I suppose I could have caught “the train”

Or hired a boat

Make no mistake, the sea was flat calm out there, and you would be able to wade out quite far too. In the bay was a sailing ship and I was able to zoom into her and later identified her as the 1971 built  TS Royalist.

and then finally I was approaching St John’s Church.

The church stands out for me as it had what was probably the scariest angel I have ever seen on a church building.

And then it was time to turn around and head for the station. 

The exif data says the image below was taken at 17H39, but that could be when I uploaded them. At any rate, my train is here, its time to go.

My trip to Weymouth would not be complete without random images…

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DRW © 2013-2019. Retrospectively created 11/08/2018

Updated: 10/04/2019 — 19:33
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