musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Category: World War 1

Commemorating Annie Munro

Being involved with photographing war graves you often find that you are drawn to some graves, or individuals, or you feel that you need to remind the world of a life that was cut short by the tragedy of war. One such grave is that of a young nurse called Annie Winifred Munro.

I do not recall how I got involved with this particular grave, all I know is that I felt that a plan really needed to be made to commemorate her loss, and some investigating was done. She is buried in the Glasgow Western Metropolis and her casualty details may be found on the corresponding CWGC page. Glasgow is far from my usual stomping grounds, and while we knew that there was a headstone we had no photograph of it. I decided to ask around and by luck one of the members of the South African Branch of the Royal British Legion was able to go to the cemetery and photograph the grave for us. It was winter, and snow lay on the ground. 

Annie was no longer forgotten, her record at the South African War Graves Project was just that much more complete now that the grave was photographed. Incidentally her headstone was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and “was erected to her memory by the South African Comforts Committee, under the personal direction of the Viscountess Gladstone”. 

But why was Annie buried here in the first place? It is difficult to understand so many years after the fact, but the information that exists is as follows: “… on arriving in England she was sent to France, where she contracted pneumonia which obliged her to return to England. After having partly recovered from the effects of pneumonia, she desired to visit Scotland, the home of her father, but was unable to travel farther North than Glasgow. There she was taken under the care of those who had known her father; and although she received all the attention that medical skill could give her, complications set in which it was impossible to combat. She died on 6th April, 1917, at the age of 25 years, and was buried with Military Honours in the Western Necropolis, Glasgow.”

Annie had previously served in the German South West African Campaign, transferring to the hospital ship “Ebani” on 26/11/1915.

Record card for Staff Nurse Annie Munro

She is also recorded as serving in Gallipoli and eventually was sent to France where she contracted pneumonia. She was shipped back to England to recover, but after having partly recovered she desired to visit Scotland, the home of her father. 

She is noted as having died from “Phthisis” (pulmonary tuberculosis or a similar progressive wasting disease) on the 6th of April 1917, although her record card shows her as being “very ill, progress unsatisfactory” on 07/04/1917. It is very likely that the date is incorrect as death is accepted as having occurred on 06/04/1917.

What drove Annie to visit the home of her father? was she invited over? was there some other underlying reason? She was a qualified sister and was probably well aware of how ill she had been and that there were risks attached to her travelling so far from where she was staying.  Sadly she died in Scotland and in time would eventually become just another name on a headstone in a cemetery.  Renewed interest in the First World War saw more and more people researching those who fought or died in that terrible war and there was a reappraisal of the role of women and nurses in the global conflict that touched everywhere on the globe. In 2012 Our own War Graves Project was already busy with the record card project that would reveal more details about  the almost forgotten part that South African Forces played in the war. Annie is amongst those many names on the Roll of Honour.

She was visited by Louise Prentice Carter in July 2018 who laid flowers on her grave and paid her respects to this nurse so far from Pietermaritzburg where she was born.

William and Ellen Munro lost not only their daughter in 1917, they also lost a son in the war;  Sergeant  William Alexander Munro was killed at Delville Wood on 15/07/1916.

Many people have contributed to this page, although I did rely on our South African War Graves Project for most of the information. Special thanks to Louise and the Legionnaire who photographed the grave for me in 2015. There is not a lot of information to add to this story though, and the one source I did find that is new to me is from The Evening Times of 13 May 2014.  

DRW © 2019. Created 12/04/2019

Updated: 16/04/2019 — 05:56

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

Spotted in town.

Remembrance Day is getting closer, and poppies are starting to be displayed as we head towards the 11th. I saw two of the latest iterations of Remembrance in town yesterday.

And on Wednesday 10 October at 11am, a service was held at Tewkesbury Cemetery,  to welcome Home Pte. Henry John Waylen who died of illness contracted during service in Salonika in 1917 but who has been laid in an unmarked grave ever since. I photographed his grave on 29 October.

The epitaph on the grave is a very special one..

“A GARDENER HE WAS WHO FOUGHT AND DIED

HE LIES IN THIS BED WITH POPPIES BY HIS SIDE”

DRW © 2018-2019. Created 27 October 2018. 

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:49

The village tour: Kemerton and Overbury

The day finally arrived, it was time to embark on my grand tour of the villages en route to Evesham. The weather forecast was favourable, my navigation was done and all that was left was hitting the road. My plan was to travel by bus to Kemerton, take my pics and then head over to either Overbury or Ashton-Under-Hill, and from there to Evesham. The only real hard and fast decision was that Kemerton would be my first stop. 

I grabbed the 07.35ish 540 bus in misty weather and even the sun was still partly asleep at this time of the morning, and I duly arrived in Kemerton at 7.50ish. Everybody was apparently asleep too.

This is the road from Bredon.

I did not venture into the side streets of the village, but only the main street, and there is not a lot to see. 

Lost? this may help.

As you can see the sun was starting to colour the sky and the light was improving considerably.

Even the local shop/post office looked like it was starting to stir. This was the only shop I saw in the village. While “The Crown” was the only pub I saw, although there may be others. 

And finally, the reason for my early morning sojourn.

The War Memorial is described as a “Latin Limestone Cross atop a tall shaft, which is on a 5 stage base. The design of the cross was adapted from an ancient village cross in the village of Laycock.” (https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/32460). It was unveiled on 9 January 1921, and was made by Sir Herbert Baker RA (possibly the architect?), Messrs E T Taylor of Tewkesbury and Mr A Stanley of Kemerton. It is a Grade II listed structure. 

There are 20 names from the First World War and 7 from the Second World War on the memorial.

The building in the picture behind the memorial had an interesting sign painted on the wall, although I do not know if it is a period sign or a recent addition.

The rent was paid, it was time to walk across to Overbury which was less than a kilometre away, past the village hall (dated 1902), 

although walking on the pavement was difficult because the grass was heavy with dew. Not much was stirring here, but then it was still early.

Much to my delight I found a Catholic Church on the outskirts of the village, and it still had a graveyard.

It is called St Benet’s Catholic Church (served by the Benedictines of Douai Abbey), and it was built in 1843 by M E Hadfield, together with the adjoining Priest’s House.

I had missed the local Anglican Church though, so that is another reason for a return to the village. Across the street from the church was a large field with grazing sheep and a white painted farmhouse in the distance. There was a hint of mist in the air and the slowly lightening sky was still coloured orange by the sun on the clouds. It was one of those moments that always leaves me breathless. 

(1500 x 510)

In fact there were sheep having breakfast on both sides of the road. This chap was resting his wary head and we exchanged Baa’s. 

Kemerton is also mentioned in the Domesday Book

  • HundredTewkesbury
  • CountyGloucestershire / Worcestershire
  • Total population: 40.5 households (very large).
  • Total tax assessed: 13.4 geld units (very large)
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 60 geld units. Taxed on 60.0. Payments of 0.82 urban.

My next destination was in sight.

And in the distance I could see the the bell tower of St Faith’s, Overbury on the left side of the road. 

There are 5 CWGC graves in the churchyard, and all five are from the First World War. The War Memorial is incorporated into the Lych Gate so technically it could also double as a coffin rest.

The Memorial commemorates the Men of Overbury and Conderton who gave their lives in the Great War (and the Second World War).  There are 26 names from the First World War and 4 from the Second World War. (https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/32563)

For some strange reason I took almost no images of the Lych Gate structure as I was too intent of trying to get the names instead. Once that was done I tackled the Churchyard, 4 of the headstones were standard CWGC pattern while the last was a private memorial, and it had been recently restored too.

Rent paid, it was time to move onwards. And I seemingly did not photograph the church completely, although it was not easy to get an unobstructed view of it. Fortunately I did get the back of the Lych Gate.

The Exif data of this image puts the time at 8.34 and I still had to find the bus stop to get the bus that theoretically should arrive about 8.50. I had scoped the route out on my maps and the bus stops were marked on it, so no problemo!

In fact, the timetable listed the bus stop as “opposite shelter”, and this is the shelter….  

The shelter however is on the side heading back to Tewkesbury, and Google Earth marks the stop as being roughly 50 metres before the shelter, and the locals said the stop was at a small bench 50 metres on the other side of the shelter. This is the UK,  if you do not stand at a designated bus stop the bus will not stop! 

Overbury Church Of England First School

Old Village Shop

Overbury is in the Domesday Book too:

  • HundredOswaldslow
  • CountyWorcestershire
  • Total population: 15.5 households (medium).
  • Total tax assessed: 3 geld units (medium)
  • Head of manor: Overbury.
  • Taxable units: Taxable value 6 geld units.
  • Value: Value to lord in 1066 £6. Value to lord in 1086 £6.
  • Households: 15 villagers. 7 smallholders. 6 slaves. 2 female slaves. 1 priest.
  • Ploughland: 3 lord’s plough teams. 12 men’s plough teams.
  • Other resources: Meadow 10 acres. Woodland 1 * 1 leagues. 0.5 church lands.
  • Lord in 1066Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Lord in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Tenant-in-chief in 1086Worcester (St Mary), bishop of.
  • Places mentioned in this entryOverburyPendock.

and this is the road out of here.

The next village in the route was Conderton although I was not stopping there, and fortunately the bus driver saw my frantic waves from what I hoped was the bus stop.

My next destination was Ashton-Under-Hill and that is over the page….

forwardbut

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 20/10/2018.  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

Armed Forces Day 2018

Today is Armed Forces Day in Tewkesbury, actually it was yesterday everywhere else, it is just that we like being different.  😉 

The reason for our delay was probably because there had been some additions to our War Memorial and a parade would have really caused havoc in the town. The War Memorial is in somewhat of an important junction so it tends to remind everybody battling to get around it that there were two World Wars and Tewkesbury was involved too.

I have covered the memorial in allatsea, but the additional names really mean that I need to update it too. The parade was scheduled from 9.30 till 11.30, but it battled to get started. Strangely enough there was not as large a military contingent as I would have expected, although veterans and cadets were well represented. 

As usual the Town Band showed the way and they paused at the Town Hall to collect the civic party who were dressed in their finest, led by the Town Crier:  Michael David Kean-Price – Town Sarjent and Common Crier,  Formerly of your Majesty’s Royal Regiment of Horse Guards (The Blues). (He told me that the bell he carries weighs in at 8lb.)

Fortunately the town isn’t that large that the tail end of the parade hasn’t left while the front has arrived. There were not too many people around either, but then I expect not too many were aware of the event either. It was not well advertised.

And with the memorial surrounded on all sides they commenced the unveiling of the two new plaques. Unfortunately many memorials are faced with the same problem of who to put in and who to leave out. A lot of servicemen and women died after their military service and were omitted from Rolls of Honour and Memorials. It is a tragic state of affairs, especially in South Africa where there are over 2000 who are not commemorated on the National Roll of Honour or on the CWGC lists. 

(1500 x 526)

The unveiling really followed the tried formula of a Remembrance Service with its attendant Last Post and 2 minutes silence which was ruined by an idiot on a motorbike. 

The new plaques look like this.

World War One

World War Two

There was an elderly couple at the World War Two plaque and I suspect they were related to somebody commemorated on the plaque. Too many years too late is my opinion.

And then we were done and the parade marched off to take the salute at the Town Hall. I drifted away towards the closest loo and then walked up to the Vineyards to photograph the Monument there which I will post about eventually. It was 26 degrees outside and a cold ale went down very well. I paused at the cemetery too because one of the names on the one plaque was familiar.

Worker Kathleen Rose Sollis is buried in Tewkesbury Cemetery, she died on 22 March 1918, aged 20.

One day I hope to know the circumstances of her death. 

And that was Armed Forces Day. Thanks to serving and past members of HM Forces as well as those who serve in the Police, Fire Department, Hospitals too… Thank You.

DRW © 2018 – 2019. Created 01/07/2018

Updated: 04/01/2019 — 06:58

Loving Liverpool (3) Museum of the Moon

In which we go looking for Abercromby Square.

Having checked into my hotel and showered I still had some time to kill as the sun was still high and bedtime was nowhere close. Marked on my navigation was “Abercromby Square” which sounds kind of obscure but there was a reason for my interest. 

Liverpool was home to members of the Chavasse family, the most famous of whom was Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse. VC*, MC. while his father was the second Bishop of Liverpool. I was keen to find the place because there was a statue of him in the square. It was more like a pilgrimage though, and one of the many reasons I was visiting this city originally. Unfortunately my street map did not show the square, but I knew it was close to the Catholic Cathedral so technically should not be too difficult to find as long as I went up the right street in the first place. Unfortunately I did not and while I could see the cathedral I could not work out where the park was on the ground in relation to it.

Catholic Cathedral

My mapping app did not work either because it would never refresh and if you tried to refresh it manually all you would end up was a “mapping app has stopped functioning” error. Bah humbug! I decided that my best course was to try the roads at the front of the cathedral (this is the back) and see what happens. Fortunately a kind hearted soul took pity on me and pointed down the road to a green area 3 blocks away. Huzzah! the destination was in sight. 

Abercromby Square

The statue was not in the square but on the pavement next to it, and it was such a moment to see that statue. 

The statue was engraved:

“Liverpool Heroes.
This scuplture commemorates the life and death of captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse
VC and Bar, MC, RAMC. Medical officer to the 10th battalion (Liverpool Scottish)
King’s Liverpool Regiment, and fifteen other recipients of the Victoria Cross who were
born in Liverpool and whose names appear around the base

Captain Chavasse, son of the second Bishop of Liverpool, was the only man to be
awarded two Victoria Crosses during World War I, and died on 4th August 1917 of
wounds received in Flanders

Several of the other’s also made the supreme sacrifice. May this memorial remind
us all of the debt we owe to such men.

“Greater love hath no man than this
that a man lay down his life for his friends”

The names around the base are:


The sculptor is Tom Murphy of Liverpool

It was time to move on. The Catholic Cathedral was closed so I started to head towards the direction of town. Unfortunately for me, the Anglican Cathedral loomed close by at the end of a street. It just seemed so close. 

The sun was still shining and I had some time to kill so I thought I would head down in that direction and have a quick recce before returning the next day. There were really two spaces I wanted to visit at what is known as “St James Mount”:- the first was the actual cathedral, and the second was a cemetery known as St James Garden (aka St James Cemetery). Situated behind the cathedral it was created below ground level in a former quarry that was in use till 1825, and until 1936 was used as the Liverpool city cemetery and contrary to what you would think, the cemetery is not associated with the cathedral. It is a very beautiful place and I was very glad that I saw it in the evening light.

I went in through the gate by the Oratory, which is  the former mortuary chapel of the cemetery. It was designed in 1829 in classic Greek architecture by John Foster Jnr, as a re-creation of a Greek temple. 

The Oratory

It was all downhill from here…

Once flat ground was reached I was in a quiet park, dotted with headstones, flowers, pathways, mausoleums and trees. People were sitting around and enjoying the coolness of the air, others were walking their dogs or just strolling. It was hard to believe that you were actually in a cemetery that held close to 60 000 people. 

The domed cupola in the last image is the Huskisson Monument, it was designed to house the statue of William Huskisson who holds the distinction of being the world’s first reported railway passenger casualty; when he was run over and fatally injured by George Stephenson’s pioneering locomotive engine Rocket. The statue is no longer there, but the monument is.  A mineral spring also flows through this area (the Chalybeate) although I did not see it at the time.  From the flatness of the bottom of the quarry it was time to ascend. I was starting to tire and needed to make my way home so I followed the path upwards to the gate and to ground level. 

This was the back of the cathedral and even here people were enjoying the warm evening air. I really felt like staking a spot for myself but I still had a long walk ahead of me so resting was not an option at this point.

I walked past the huge building and it is a mighty, lofty, looming building. It is reportedly the largest Anglican Cathedral ever built. I came to the spot where I had entered the area and saw that the Cathedral was open so decided to pop in and have a quick look….

When I saw what was inside it my plans for heading back to the hotel went for a wobbly because there was an event going on in it called:

The Museum of the Moon.

Museum of the Moon is a new touring artwork by UK artist Luke Jerram. Measuring seven metres in diameter, and internally lit,  the moon features 120dpi detailed NASA imagery of the lunar surface. At an approximate scale of 1:500,000, each centimetre of the spherical sculpture represents 5km of the moon’s surface*. (https://my-moon.org/about/)

I kid you not, the moon was shining in the cathedral, and it was magnificent. Photographs do not do the work justice. 

It was one of those things that children would love and adults would be amazed by. Everywhere people were taking photographs and just staring. The huge cavernous interior of the cathedral just made it so much more impressive. It was like something out of the original “Despicable Me” movie. The coloured lights on the walls of the image above is caused by the sun shining through the stained glass windows of the cathedral. I am not covering the cathedral in this blogpost but will cover it on it’s own page, these images are all about the moon….​

And having stood in awe at the moon and the cathedral I shall now turn the page and cover the cathedral on the next page.

forwardbut

I headed off home after a quick walk around and spent a restless night trying to get to sleep. I was bushed, but the reality is that I had accomplished all that I wanted to see and do in half a day. The only thing left was the ferry trip across to Birkenhead and of course the cathedral.   

DRW © 2018. Created 03/05/2018

Updated: 14/06/2018 — 05:38
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