musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Memorial

Portsmouth Cemeteries, a retrospective

This morning, while editing my Victoria Cross grave collection, I realised that I had not done a blog post on my visit to Portsmouth Highland Road and Milton Cemeteries, although I had done one on my flying visit to Kingston Cemetery.   This retrospective post is to rectify the matter so that I can carry on with my editing.

Portsmouth is not too far from Southampton, but I never really saw too much of it because I always ended up at the Historical Dockyard,  my first visit happed in April 2013, and it was really a taste of this great naval city and its large chunk of maritime history. My visit to Milton and Highland Road were for a different reason though. There are 9 Mendi Casualties buried in Milton Cemetery, and I really wanted to pay my respects. Fortunately one of the Hamble Valley and Eastleigh Heritage Guides was willing to take me to the cemetery to see the graves. 

I also had a map of the two cemeteries in my camera bag, and it showed the location of the Victoria Cross and George Cross graves in the cemeteries. I wanted to photograph as many of them as I could while I was there.

The day was not too sunny, but only rain would have deterred me in this quest. Our first port of call was Milton Cemetery (Google earth:  50.798967°,  -1.060722°). The cemetery is really closer to Fratton than Portsmouth, and when I had first checked it’s location I had considered it was do-able on foot from Fratton Station. 

Milton Cemetery Chapel

Plaque attached to the chapel

The cemetery  was opened in 1911, and contains 426 graves from both World Wars. The 1914-1918 burials are mainly in Plot 1, while the 1939-1945 War burials are widely spread throughout the cemetery.

8 Mendi casualties are buried in this row

Being a Royal Navy base and manning port, it is inevitable that many of the graves do have a naval connection, although Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery in Gosport contains the majority of naval graves in the area that I am aware of.

To be honest, Milton was not a very interesting cemetery, it was a bit too modern for my tastes, although there were a lot of interesting finds to be made in it. There are two Victoria Cross graves (Sidney James Day VC and John Danagher VC) and one George Cross grave (Reginald Vincent Ellingworth GC) in it. John Danagher VC was serving with Nourse’s Horse (Transvaal) during the first Boer War when he was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 16 January 1881 at Elandsfontein, near Pretoria.

The Cross of Sacrifice is also present in the cemetery, but I did not photograph any of the military graves apart from ones that interested me. It was really a fleeting visit as I did not want to take up too much of my host’s time. Fortunately he has an interest in cemeteries and is a member of the Friends of Southampton Old Cemetery.

Random Images from Milton Cemetery

   
   
   

And then it was time to go and we headed off to Highland Road Cemetery which is about 1,5 km away as the crow flies. (Google Earth:  50.786022°,  -1.067228°).

Those heavy clouds did nothing to make the chapel stick out more, Oddly enough the Google earth image shows a marker in the middle of the graves tagged as “St Margaret C of E Church”. I do not know whether that tag is supposed to relate to the chapel. There is one more building in the cemetery and I suspect it may have once been the Dissenters Chapel or a Mausoleum. The history of the cemetery may be found on the Friends of Highland Road Cemetery website.

Highland Road Cemetery was definitely the nicer of the two cemeteries. It was opened in 1854 and contains war graves from both world wars. The 1914-1918 burials are spread throughout the cemetery while the 1939-1945 War graves are widely scattered.

There are eight Victoria Cross graves in the cemetery and I am pleased to say I found them all. (John Robarts.VCHugh Shaw. VCWilliam Temple. VCHenry James Raby. VC. CBHugh Stewart Cochrane. VCWilliam NW Hewett. VCIsrael Harding. VCWilliam Goate. VC.)

I am however very sorry I did not photograph the grave of Reginald Lee who is buried in the cemetery. He is remembered as being in the crows nest with Fred Fleet, on board the ill fated Titanic when the iceberg was sighted at about 11.40 p.m. on 14 April 1912, although it was Fleet not Lee who shouted the famous “Iceberg Ahead”. (Frederick Fleet is buried in Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton)  

The Mausoleum above is for members of the Dupree family, 

I would have liked to have revisited this cemetery in better weather, but realistically it would have been a very long walk to get there. As hindsight always says “it is too late now”

Random Images from Highland Road Cemetery 

 
   
   
   

It was time to leave this place and head off home. It had certainly been a productive morning, and I liked those. I would revisit Portsmouth in the future, but I never managed to return to it’s cemeteries. 

© DRW 2013-2018. Retrospectively created 12/05/2017. With special thanks to Geoff Watts and Kevin Brazier. 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:48

Photo Essay: The Albert Memorial in London

In 2013 I saw the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens in London, or rather I saw the scaffolding around the Albert Memorial. 

It was not a pretty sight. 

In June 2016 I had to cross Kensington Gardens en route to the V&A Museum and the scaffolding was gone and I finally had a chance to have a look. 

The Memorial was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her husband, Prince Albert who died in 1861. The cost of the Memorial (£120,000) was met by public subscription and it was opened in July 1872.

Prince Albert took his seat in 1875.

It is an impressive structure, with marble tableaux representing Europe, Asia, Africa and America at each corner of the memorial, while higher up are further figures representing manufacture, commerce, agriculture and engineering. These tableaux could fill a blogpost all on their own.

Asia

Asia

Africa

Africa

Europe

Europe

America

America

manufactures

manufactures

Commerce

Commerce

All around the base of the memorial the Parnassus frieze depicts celebrated painters, poets sculptors, musicians and architects, reflecting Albert’s enthusiasm for the arts. There are 187 exquisitely carved figures in the frieze.

It is an incredibly ornate memorial, and in the context of its era it must have really been a firm favourite amongst those who had the leisure time to stroll around Kensington gardens. However, it is doubtful whether the average Londoner living in the East End would have ever been to see it. Their lives were much more precarious, although it is interesting to note that Prince Albert died of Typhoid, a disease that was spread by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person.

The memorial is a very popular tourist site in London and there were crowds around it in the afternoon when I returned from the Science Museum. 

What is the attraction? 

I asked myself the same question, but then I find beauty in cemeteries and derelict places, so my tastes are slightly skewed. I am not in favour of memorials glorifying people, however, endowing a country with a museum like the Victoria and Albert is a much better legacy than a structure built to remember a Prince.  But, having said that, it is an impressive structure and a monument to the legacy of Queen Victoria who is still remembered all around England, and in many other parts of the globe.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 26/06/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:11

Remembering the Westdene Bus Disaster

27 March 1985 was supposed to be yet another school day for the pupils of Voorentoe Highschool, in fact it was supposed to be a normal day for the whole of South Africa, but the events surrounding the Westdene bus disaster changed all of that in a brief tragedy that will remain with us all forever.

I was doing tutoring at the Telecomms Apprentice School in Braamfontein when news broke that a school bus full of pupils had plunged into Westdene Dam. It is one of those surrealistic moments in your life that somehow remains with you forever. Classes stopped and the principal sent around a message that we would be collecting money towards a wreath or similar. The days was subdued after that, even though that was not true at Westdene Dam where divers were frantically searching for bodies and parents were standing grief stricken, knowing that their son or daughter would not be coming home on that day. 

Westdene Dam. (1500x466)

Westdene Dam. (1500×466)

The actual cause of the disaster was never really pinned down to any singular factor; the driver  never really gave an adequate explanation, there was no mechanical fault with the bus, and the weather conditions were not poor. I seem to recall that he said another car had swerved, or he had blacked out. Faced with the imminent backlash and the trauma that he had gone through too, it was no wonder that no single cause was ever found.

I wont delve into the disaster because I was not directly involved and do not know the facts, there are others more qualified to do that. It was one of those moments in South African history that has remained in our pysche since 1985.  

Those that died in the disaster are mostly buried in Westpark cemetery in a dedicated plot close to the main gate. It is a tragic place to visit because the sheer sale of the disaster is only experienced when you are faced with seeing all of the graves together. 

In 2011 I spent some time in Westpark photographing all of the graves, sadly they were all desecrated a long time ago and never restored. I spent time hunting down the graves in the general cemetery and they too had been desecrated. Nobody has even been able to explain why this happened, and who was responsible. It was a sad pilgrimage for me, trying to match headstones with names, and seeing those names in the registers made it just a bit harder. The funeral for all of the children was held on the same day, and a sad day it was for so many people.

It took until 2007 for a memorial to be erected to the victims,  and even this has had its fair share of controversy.  

In 2014 I revisited the graves while I was down in South Africa and photographed the small photographs that were on some of the graves, one day I will match faces to names and make my own records of the disaster a little more complete. 

There are two graves that stick out for me, the first is grave number 7, where two sisters are buried together (Reinette and Linda Du Plooy) , and the grave of Caroline Brown who is buried in the general part of the cemetery in a grave that was stripped of its name like so many others.  The vandalism of the graves was not random, it was targeted, somebody went out of their way to hunt down the graves and desecrate them

It is just over 30 years since the disaster, had it not happened some of those children would have been mothers or fathers today, they would have had families of their own, and just possibly their children would have attended that same school that they had attended so many years ago. There are a lot of what if’s associated with the Westdene Bus Disaster, it was all a matter of timing. catching a different bus, or sitting upstairs of downstairs was the difference between life of death.

There were a lot of heroes on 27 March 1985, but sadly there were too many victims. May They Rest in Peace 

Images of the graves are available on eggsa. I sincerely hope that one day they get restored. 

My own page about the memorial may be found at Allatsea

© DRW 2016-2018. 27/03/2016

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 15:58

The Cross of Sacrifice

Visiting cemeteries looking for War Graves will mean that I will encounter the Cross of Sacrifice on a regular basis, and it is an easily recognisable and familiar object in many of the cemeteries that I visit. 
 
The first one I ever saw was at West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg, and this cemetery was really where my war grave photography started. I literally cut my teeth on war graves here, and while I have not been there in years I usually consider it a yardstick with which I compare other cemeteries to.
Cross of Sacrifice: West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg.

Cross of Sacrifice: West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg.

Designed in 1918 by Sir Reginald Blomfield for the Imperial War Graves Commission (now the Commonwealth War Graves Commission). It is present in Commonwealth war cemeteries containing 40 or more graves. The cross is an elongated Latin cross with Celtic dimensions whose shaft and crossarm are octagonal in shape and ranges in height from 18 to 24 feet (5.5 to 7.3 m). A bronze longsword, blade down, is affixed to the front of the cross (replaced in some cases by fibreglass replicas). It is usually mounted on an octagonal base.
Cross of Sacrifice: Brixton Cemetery, Johannesburg.

Cross of Sacrifice: Brixton Cemetery, Johannesburg.

Sadly the local vandals stole the sword from this cross as well as from the one in Brixton Cemetery, and this has been replaced. Sadly, when I first saw this Cross it was still in its vandalised state.  There are two crosses in Johannesburg, although there is no real dedicated war cemetery in the city. The closest war cemeteries are in Pretoria and of course my favourite is in Palmietkuil just outside Springs.
Cross of Sacrifice: Palmietkuil South War Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Palmietkuil South War Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Thaba Tswane New Military Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Thaba Tswane New Military Cemetery


Leaving South Africa I travelled east to Hong Kong where the Cross of Sacrifice stands at the bottom of the magnificent Sai Wan Military Cemetery.
 
Cross of Sacrifice: Sai Wan  Military Cemetery, Hong Kong

Cross of Sacrifice: Sai Wan Military Cemetery, Hong Kong


The Cross and headstones are of the white stone which is unlike the gray that we have in South Africa, and I would encounter that white stone when I moved to the United Kingdom.

In London there are a lot of these Monuments to our folly with warfare, and the first I encountered at Streatham Park Cemetery where it forms part of the war memorial. Unfortunately the weather on this day was gray and overcast, and at that point I did not really have a place where I could submit my images to any longer.

Cross of Sacrifice: Streatham Park Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Streatham Park Cemetery



The use of the Cross of Sacrifice as the centrepiece if the war memorial is quite a regular occurrence in the UK,
Cross of Sacrifice: Brockley/Motherwell Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Brockley/Motherwell Cemetery



The Cross of Sacrifice may also be found in four of the Magnificent Seven Victorian garden cemeteries in London.
Cross of Sacrifice:Highgate Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice:Highgate Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice:Abney Park Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice:Abney Park Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice: Kensall Green Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice: Kensall Green Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice:West Norwood Cemetery, London

Cross of Sacrifice:West Norwood Cemetery, London


Oddly enough not all of the Magnificent Seven have a Cross of Sacrifice, although one was erected in Chelsea near the station and forms part of the local war memorial. Brompton Cemetery is not too far from here.
Cross of Sacrifice: outside Chelsea Station, London

Cross of Sacrifice: outside Chelsea Station, London


Moving from London to Southampton brought new challenges and places to visit, and one of the first places I visited was Hollybrook Cemetery.  There are two Crosses of Sacrifice in Hollybrook. The first is at the memorial to those who lost their lives at sea.


Cross of Sacrifice: Memorial to the Missing. Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton

Cross of Sacrifice: Memorial to the Missing. Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton


And of course there is another Cross of Sacrifice at the World War Two plot in Hollybrook.
Cross of Sacrifice: World War Two Plot. Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton

Cross of Sacrifice: World War Two Plot. Hollybrook Cemetery, Southampton


Southampton is also home to Netley Military Cemetery, and it too has a Cross of Sacrifice.
Cross of Sacrifice: Netley Military Cemetery, Southampton

Cross of Sacrifice: Netley Military Cemetery, Southampton


Southampton Old Cemetery has a number of military burials within its walls and I spent many hours hunting them down. I also attended a wreath laying at the cemetery in 2013, and this grand old cemetery has a special place in my affections as a result.
Cross of Sacrifice: Southampton Old Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Southampton Old Cemetery


I only visited Winchester briefly and managed a visit to West Hill Cemetery which had a Cross of Sacrifice as part of the memorial within the cemetery.
Cross of Sacrifice: West Hill Cemetery, Winchester.

Cross of Sacrifice: West Hill Cemetery, Winchester.


I lived in Salisbury for just over a year and there was a Cross of Sacrifice in the London Road Cemetery, but none in Devizes Road Cemetery, although both of them had war graves in them.
Cross of Sacrifice: London Road Cemetery, Salisbury

Cross of Sacrifice: London Road Cemetery, Salisbury


Strangely enough, St Lawrence Church in Stratford Sub Castle had a small war graves plot presided over by a small Cross of Sacrifice. The graves were mostly of Australians from World War One.
Cross of Sacrifice: St Lawrence Churchyard, Stratford Sub Castle, Salisbury

Cross of Sacrifice: St Lawrence Churchyard, Stratford Sub Castle, Salisbury


My biggest war grave photography session was in Gosport, at Haslar Royal Navy Cemetery, and it was interesting because most of the pre World War Two graves had a different headstone to the standard CWGC one, but there was still a Cross of Sacrifice as a reminder of where you were.
Cross of Sacrifice: Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery, Gosport

Cross of Sacrifice: Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery, Gosport


I spent some time in Basingstoke and found that Worting Road Cemetery had a small CWGC plot with a Cross of Sacrifice in it.
Cross of Sacrifice: Worting Road Cemetery, Basingstoke.

Cross of Sacrifice: Worting Road Cemetery, Basingstoke.


And while I was in Basingstoke I managed to visit the magnificent military cemetery at Brookwood. There are two large Crosses of Sacrifice in this cemetery.

Cross of Sacrifice: Brookwood Military Cemetery.

Cross of Sacrifice: Brookwood Military Cemetery.

Cross of Sacrifice: Brookwood Military Cemetery.

I also visited the city of Bath which had a Cross incorporated into the town war memorial.

Cross of Sacrifice: Bath.

And the beautiful Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol has a Cross of Sacrifice at the “Sailors Corner”.

Cross of Sacrifice: Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol.

Cross of Sacrifice: Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol.


On a trip to Swindon I discovered a small Cross of Sacrifice in the Radnor Street Cemetery.
Cross of Sacrifice: Radnor Str Cemetery, Swindon

Cross of Sacrifice: Radnor Str Cemetery, Swindon


And on my visit to Reading I discovered the small Cross of Sacrifice in the local cemetery, keeping watch over the screen wall.
Cross of Sacrifice: Reading Cemetery.

Cross of Sacrifice: Reading Cemetery.


After Leaving Basingstoke I travelled North and ended up in Staffordshire, there I visited Cannock Chase Military Cemetery.
Cross of Sacrifice: Cannock Chase Military Cemetery

Cross of Sacrifice: Cannock Chase Military Cemetery


And I found another Cross of Sacrifice in Warstone Lane Cemetery in Birmingham.
Cross of Sacrifice: Warstone Lane Cemetery, Birmingham

Cross of Sacrifice: Warstone Lane Cemetery, Birmingham


and another in Ryecroft Cenetery in the town of Walsall.
Cross of Sacrifice: Ryecroft Cemetery, Walsall.

Cross of Sacrifice: Ryecroft Cemetery, Walsall.


I now live in Tewkesbury, and the first Cross of Sacrifice I have encountered around here is at the beautiful Prestbury Cemetery in Cheltenham.

The point I am making is that wherever there is a Cross of Sacrifice there is a reminder that many servicemen and women, as well as civilians and their families were lost in the two World Wars, and they remind us that we must never walk down that terrible path again, because who will be left to erect even more war memorials or Crosses of Sacrifice?

I am sure I have forgotten a few of the crosses that I have seen, as I wade through my pics I am bound to find more of them, and will continue to find them as I explore more around me. The Cross of Sacrifice is a simple yet effective memorial, but it is so tragic that we need something like this in the first place.

© DRW 2015-2018. Created  20/09/2015, images migrated 01/05/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:25

Finding the Fallen: Prestbury, Cheltenham

The nice thing about moving to a new city is that there are new cemeteries to explore, and Cheltenham was no exception. They have a large cemetery very close to the city centre called Prestbury, and it was to this cemetery that I wended my way on the 18th of January.
 
There are 181 CWGC burials in the cemetery, as well as 28 Crematorium mentions, so I would have my work cut out for me if I wanted to grab most of the graves. Naturally I would be on the look out for the Angel population and of course anything that would grab my interest.
 
I had a feeling that the cemetery was a big one, it certainly looked like it on Google Earth, so I was not quite sure what I would find. The Lodge is just inside the main gate and it was now privately owned like so many other cemetery lodges. 
The map was interesting, because it showed the curves that were popular before the bean counters took over, and I suspected there was a mix of old and really old graves, with the more modern iterations moving away from the main gate.
  
The first military encounter I made was with the Gloucesters Memorial, and it is really a step back in time. The memorial comprising original crosses erected over the graves of men who were killed on the battle fields. Unfortunately the crosses were painted brown and that has really made them look less than historic. If anything they should have been varnished and left as they were originally. Most of the inscriptions are no longer legible either, which is really a pity.

And then we were off…. list clutched in my hands and shutter finger cocked. It was quite a warm day and the sun kept on coming and going which really messed with my photography. Just inside the gates is the Cross of Sacrifice, and the all crucial split that dictates how much of the cemetery you will get to see. I decided to head left because there was a CWGC grave on that side.
 . 
This was a Roman Catholic area, and it was in this area where I encountered the first angel statue. and it was the first of many. Prestbury has an impressive collection of oldies and new versions, and most were in a very good condition.
In fact that was one thing that impressed me about this cemetery, it was clean, well maintained, with very little sign of vandalism or neglect. Unfortunately though I did find that legibility on the headstones was not great, which was a pity because there were quite a few very impressive family stones.

 And then there is the chapel building….

I have seen a number of these in my travels, and I think the one at Prestbury outdoes them all. It is a spectacular building, in an excellent condition, and as beautiful as any church could be. Unfortunately I could not access the two chapels or the crematorium in it, but I spent quite a bit of time photographing the gargoyles and stonework of it.

 
I worked my way towards the back of the cemetery, crossing off names as I went. There was a small Australian plot close to the chapels and it did make walking the rows much easier.

But most of my graves were individuals scattered throughout and consequently I covered a lot of ground although I did not really concentrate too much on the thousands of graves all around me.

 
At some point I reached the boundary between 1950 and upwards, and it was unlikely that I would find any CWGC graves after that and started sweeping my way across the cemetery. It was really a pleasure to work this cem because I did not have to concentrate on not falling into a hole too much. The beauty of good maintenance is that my life was much easier.
  
My list was also shrinking and it was about time to find the cremations that were mentioned on the CWGC website. There were also three graves mentioned on the cemetery plans, but they were not historic in the way I would have liked. There are 5 VC graves in the cemetery, and I picked up the plaque for one of them,  although I was not specifically hunting for them. At some point I probably will, but this was not the day.
 
In fact I was starting to get tired, and home was looking more like an option. I started weaving my way towards the exit, although I really wanted to look at the Gardens of Remembrance before I left. 
  
It was a very pretty area, and I considered that if I pop my clogs one fine day this would be a suitable place to end up. Where do I sign? Unfortunately I did not find my missing crem plaque, but with hindsight I was looking in the wrong area. One more thing to do on a return visit. 
 
Behind the Gardens of Remembrance is the Ukranian Memorial
  
And that pretty much was the last image I took.  Unfortunately the 21 graves I am missing are probably PM’s so finding them is going to be very difficult, so I cannot completely mentally tick off this cemetery. One day I will be back.
And I am confident that the visit will be enjoyable because this is a very enjoyable cemetery to walk.

Update: 08/08/2015

Yesterday I revisited Prestbury to find the 5 Victoria Cross graves in the cemetery and clear some of the missing CWGC graves. I managed to find 13 more, and understand a bit more about how the cemetery is numbered, although I am still puzzled about where some of the graves are.

 
© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 01/05/2016
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:33

Finding the fallen: Belgrave Cemetery

My visit to Leicester meant that I could add yet another cemetery to my list, and see whether I could pick up more of the CWGC graves that needed photographing. I had 2 possibilities in mind, Belgrave or Welford cemeteries, Belgrave was the closest, although at the time I did lean towards Welford more as it seems to be the older of the two. I am however glad I did go to Belgrave, the first reason has to do with the railway experience that I had, and the second has to do with angels.
  
The cemetery is not a large one, which was a good thing because I had limited time to do what I had to. There are 49 CWGC recognised casualties in the cemetery, although on the notice board in the entrance it states that there are 90 killed in action named on family stones. That is probably the most PM’s I have ever seen in a cemetery. Interestingly enough there are 364 stillborns and  under two year olds buried here too.
 
The cemetery is divided into 5 distinct areas, with the B and C areas on a bit of an upwards slope.  There are also toilets! which is a bit odd seeing as they are in the centre of the cemetery. However, I wonder if that particular space was not where the demolished chapel used to be?
 
The War Memorial is not a complicated one, and if I had not walked past it I may have missed it.
 
The plaque simply reads: 
To Commemorate 
the Brave Men of Belgrave
Who Lost Their Lives
in Both World Wars
 
The memorial was placed in November 2008.
 The headstones are not in too bad a condition, and there is plenty of evidence that they do take a lot of care with the cemetery, the grass was cut and there was no litter or anything that detracted from the experience. Quite a few headstones have been toppled though, but I suspect that is from a safety aspect. There are a lot of of accidents caused by toppled headstones, and the legal and bad publicity ramifications can be large if a headstones falls on a child.
And then there are angels. Belgrave has seven distinct angels, 2 of which are truly spectacular and which I am reproducing here.
I have to admit that the first angel is really beautiful, my photographs do not do her justice. At one point I really felt as if she was looking at me, but that is probably because she is on a pedestal and looks down on everybody below her anyway.
I was able to cover the cemetery quite quickly, picking up the CWGC headstones as I found them and occasionally spotting a PM close by. It will be awhile before I sort my images though, so as yet I do not have a final tally of how many graves I found. But I do know there were a lot of very unique PM’s too.  There are over 15000 burials in the cemetery, and it has a friends society that looks after it.
 
It was a great little cemetery, one of those rare gems that are a pleasure to see, and of course, a pleasure to explore. As much as I would love to return here I probably will never get the opportunity, but, I am glad I did chose to visit, because at the end of the day this visit was full of surprises.  The final grave tally? 36 out of 49 CWGC found as well as 12 PM’s. Gee, it could have been many more, but that is for somebody else to complete.
 
 
© DRW 2015-2018.Images migrated 30/04/2016
 
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:42

Return to the National Memorial Arboretum

Today I grabbed my goodies and headed off to the National Memorial Arboretum again. This was as a result of the short visit we had made on the Friday the 3rd.  To be frank that first visit was frustrating, there was too much too see, and no time to see anything. However, it did pique my curiosity, so with the weather improving a return visit was made.
View towards the visitors centre from the Armed Forces Memorial

View towards the visitors centre from the Armed Forces Memorial

I had done a bit of homework to see what was in store. There are over 400 memorials here, ranging in size from a simple plaque to statues with multiple figures. I scribbled down some names and and the intention was to buy the map when I was there. I had a plan, it’s just that my plan was liable to change as I went along. The Arboretum opens at 09H00 and I was there by 08H45, and I was the first person through the gate. It was a nice warm day, with thin clouds and patches of blue sky, the sun was low so any pictures facing east would not work too well. 
 
My first destination was the Armed Forces Memorial, and I covered that in the previous post, I really wanted to look up two names on the wall, the one in particular was still in my mind because his death had happened when I was in Southampton in 2013. I was there today to pay my respects to Cpl Jamie Webb, and Drummer Lee Rigby, The latter was killed in an extremely callous fashion, and the reverberations are still being felt today.  
 
Rest in peace lads, your duty has been done.
  
My next destination was an area that seemed to have a predominance of naval and nautical memorials, although anything along the way was fair game. Realistically though, I am unable to post an image of every memorial that I saw (I took over 600 images), so this blog post is really about the best and most memorable of the memorials. 
The South Atlantic Campaign 1982.

The South Atlantic Campaign 1982.

Army Commandos Memorial

Army Commandos Memorial

The Fleet Air Arm Memorial (410) really caught my eye, although with an aircraft carrier on it I was bound to be interested.

Fleet Air Arm Memorial

Fleet Air Arm Memorial

The deeds of the Fleet Air Arm are legendary, especially during the 2nd World War. The paving surrounds have individual commemorations on them, and overall this is a really wonderful memorial, and was proof enough that I was in the right area for my naval memorials.

Merchant Navy Convoy Memorial

Merchant Navy Convoy Memorial

Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) Memorial

Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) Memorial

The wooded area behind these two memorials are dedicated to various men, ships and the Merchant Navy, and is appropriately named “Merchant Navy Wood”.  I think part of what makes the whole Arboretum special is not the short term usage, but the long term. in 50 years time the trees will be much bigger, and the horticulture will be properly established and matured, making this a very pretty place

Arctic Convoys Memorial

Arctic Convoys Memorial

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Memorial

Royal Fleet Auxiliary Memorial

I spent a lot of time in this area, photographing and trying to see what ships I recognised. I was pleased to see a Union-Castle Line Memorial, although I was disappointed that the memorial only covered the Second World War.

Union-Castle Line Memorial

I was about ready to wind up here now and head towards another area. Although I was really glad to see the the RNLI was represented here too. The bravery that their crewmen show is unbelievable, and very often unrecognised.

RNLI Volunteer Crew Memorial

I now headed towards the area which is East of where I was, heading in the general direction of the “Shot At Dawn” memorial. Unfortunately I had just had a call about work so I would have to curtail my plans somewhat as I needed to get home by 14H30. This brought me to the Royal British Legion Never Forget Memorial Garden (418a) I was about ready to wind up here now and head towards another area. 

Royal British Legion Never Forget Memorial

Royal British Legion Never Forget Memorial

It is a bit of an odd memorial, the red of the poppies almost out of place with the greens and browns and greys that I was seeing. Maybe that is what makes it so special?

One memorial that I had bookmarked was the Railway Industry Memorial (336), and it really commemorates the contribution of yet more unsung heroes who performed their job in very trying circumstances. It is probably long overdue too.

Railway Industry Memorial

Railway Industry Memorial

Although the argument could be raised that the men could have either served in the trenches or in the railways, but bear in mind that women were entering the industry and doing many of the jobs that men had done before. It was also the rail industry that moved equipment and soldiers around the country, and of course took soldiers to their homes when they were on leave. The heavy industry used by the railways was also able to adapt to wartime needs, and many of that equipment was served by women.

Royal Tank Regiment Memorial

Royal Tank Regiment Memorial

The Royal Tank Regiment Memorial (324) is a pretty one, although I do think a full sized tank would have been much better, but then I am biased. The British Army was the first to use tanks in battle, and it is fitting that the replica is of an early tank.

Parachute and Airborne Forces Memorial

Parachute and Airborne Forces Memorial

The Parachute and Airborne Forces Memorial (332) dominates the space where it is, and it is an interesting memorial. The mounted figure is that of Bellerophon on a winged horse, with a trooper beneath the statue pulling a pack up the ramp with a rope. The interpretation of this is best left to the imagination, but I tend to see it as the pack that dangles below the soldier as he drops on his chute, it usually hits the ground before he does. The parachute regiments are generally a formidable fighting force, and they have a history second to none.

I was now at my intended destination:  the Shot at Dawn Memorial (329), and apparently it  is one of the most visited memorials in the Arboretum.  It is an emotive piece, and conveys its message very effectively.

Shot at Dawn Memorial

Shot at Dawn Memorial

 

The subject is a difficult one to read up on, because of the controversy of so many of the hasty decisions made by those who endorsed the executions. It can be argued that in many cases the sentence delivered did not take account of the circumstances of each individual, and the age and maturity of so many of those who were executed.

It is true that there were executions for offences that were not related to cowardice or “lack of moral fibre”, some men were executed for murder. However, the fairness of the court martial process is often questioned, and those high ranking officers who sat on these tribunals were often seen as being totally out of touch with the reality of the situation of soldiers on the ground. It could also be argued that in many armies, the benefit of any sort of hearing did not exist, and the men were shot outright, often on the field of battle.
Certainly some commanders should have been put of trial for the way in which they flushed lives away in battles that they had no hope of winning, but we all know that would never happen.  
In 2006 the British Government agreed to posthumously pardon all those who were executed for military offences during the First World War, but that was too many years too late for the families of these victims of officialdom. The irony is that even though a pardon has been granted, the pardon “does not affect any conviction or sentence.”

It was time to turn around and head towards another large memorial with a grouping of statues, this is the Polish Forces War Memorial (327a), and it is a beaut. Unfortunately the front of the memorial faces west, and it was difficult to get an image of the front of the memorial. 

Polish Forces War Memorial

Polish Forces War Memorial

The history of the Polish forces is summarised on the panels around the memorial, and the four figures represent a soldier, sailor, airman and the underground movement. This is topped by a symbol of the Polish Eagle.

Polish Forces War Memorial

Polish Forces War Memorial

In the area behind this memorial were the Royal Army Medical Corps (328) and Royal Army Dental Corps (328) Memorials. These were relatively small memorials and they were situated in a grove of trees. The trees on either side of the grove had plaques that commemorated the many Victoria Cross holders from this branch of the forces.

My mind immediately went to Noel Chavasse, and I went looking for his plaque, which I am glad to say I found.

Having left this grove of the brave, I was ready to start heading towards the exit, I had seen a lot so far, and probably missed a lot too.

I also encountered the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps Memorial (327),  formerly known as Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, it was founded in 1902.

Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps Memorial

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps Memorial

There was also a memorial to the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Navy Nursing Service  and Voluntary Detachment (417b) which was in the area where I found the naval memorials.

Queen Alexandra's Royal Navy Nursing Service  & Voluntary Detachment

Queen Alexandra’s Royal Navy Nursing Service & Voluntary Detachment

There is a lot of ground to cover at the Arboretum, and I still had some to go. On my list was the Hospital Ships memorial which seemed to be a new one as it was not listed in my guide book. I would have to ask at the office about it before I left.

Another memorial to men who seemed to have slipped from history is the memorial to The King’s African Rifles. (302). These man are a lost army of their own, and their stories have never been adequately told. I am sure that they would have encountered the South Africans during their service, and like the South Africans have really become a forgotten part of the world wars.

King's African Rifles Memorial

King’s African Rifles Memorial

Very close to this memorial is the Normandy Veterans Memorial (301). There are 5 stones dedicated to each of the landing beaches in Normandy (Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha).

UTAH

UTAH

The area where I was in now seemed slightly biased towards policemen, and police served in the military too, in my photography in South Africa I had often had police on my list of graves, and many fell in the line of duty. The same is true for the United Kingdom.

Police Memorial Garden

Police Memorial Garden

Representative of these memorials is the Police Memorial Garden (306). Strangely enough, I found a plaque to a British policeman who was killed in South Africa in a vehicle accident in October 2002. 

Technically I was finished for the day. Although I really wanted to investigate the area around the visitor centre. Upon enquiry my Hospital Ships Memorial was found behind the Fleet Air Arm Memorial.

Hospital Ships Memorial

Hospital Ships Memorial

Although once again I do not understand why they only mention ships lost during the Second World War.

I was ready to go, I do not have a tally of how many memorials I had seen, and looking back now I missed out on a number of them that I had not seen, Realistically though, there was an overkill of memorials. There are just so many that seeing them all would be a lot of hard slogging, and trying to see each marked tree would be even harder. However, if you are there for a specific memorial then the experience would be very different to mine.  The Arboretum is a fantastic place, and it is a meaningful space, and somebody should point this out to the powers that be who hijacked Freedom Park in South Africa.

I will probably add to this page as I go along, but at this point I shall point to some random images instead.

Royal Norwegian Navy (409)

Royal Norwegian Navy (409)

HMS Repulse & HMS Prince of Wales

Royal Naval Patrol Service (413a)

Royal Naval Patrol Service (413a)

Twin Towers Memorial (223)

Twin Towers Memorial (223)

Military Police (316)

Military Police (316)

Wall Memorial

Wall Memorial

Royal Corps of Signals (325a)

Royal Corps of Signals (325a)

Royal Artillery Garden 2018

Royal Artillery Garden 2018

Naval Service Memorial

Naval Service Memorial

SS City of Benares Plaque

SS City of Benares Plaque

HMT Lancastria Memorial

HMT Lancastria Memorial

Royal Auxiliary Air Force (343)

Royal Auxiliary Air Force (343)

Chindit Memorial (232a)

Chindit Memorial (232a)

Local Postman Memorial (213)

Local Postman Memorial (213)

Do not see this page as an all encompassing view of a much larger picture, it is a mere glimpse, the reality is a very different thing altogether. Looking at my guide book I see how many of the memorials I missed altogether, and I think that is what I do not like about this place. There are just so many, and it is really better to come here with a distinct purpose rather than an eye to see everything. 

© DRW 2015-2018 Created 08/04/2015. Images migrated 29/04/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:00

Tower Hamlets, a quick look

During the month I was in London in 2013, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit 5 out of the “magnificent seven” cemeteries in that city (Highgate, Kensall Green, Abney Park, Brompton, and Nunhead). Each was different, and each had its own attraction. Two of them eluded me though, and at the last moment I decided to try for Tower Hamlets during my trip to London on 15 August 2014. It was either that or Bunhill Fields (finally saw it in 2016), but the attraction of getting another of those famous cems under my belt was too great to ignore.
 
I hit the tube early, bailing at Miles End on the Central Line. The cemetery is a short walk from the station and easily found. 
 
  
Unfortunately though it was a bit of a gloomy overcast morning and the clouds kept on coming and going. There was a lodge, but no visitors center to pop into, or toilets for that matter.  My first find was a good one, I have been looking to photograph one of these headstones for ages and this was my first and she was one of the closest graves to the entrance gates.
 
  
And having seen it I am not too sure whether I really like the headstone after all, it seems slightly over melodramatic.  
My handy cemetery book says that the cemetery is 29 acres of greenery, and the greenery was obvious almost immediately. In fact I was reminded of Abney Park although the paths seemed a bit wider here. 
 
 

Like many of these cemeteries it is a series of meandering paths that seemingly ends up somewhere. You literally take a path and follow it until you end up back where you started, (or keeping going in circles until you get tired). The first detour I made was to the War Memorial, 

 tower_hamlets009
 
There are no CWGC headstones in the cemetery and there are 283 casualties listed as being buried here. And while it is more about bulb plating, this map gives a rough indication of the layout of the cemetery. My aiming point was a memorial which was close to Holly Walk on the map.
 
 
 
As I walked along the path I stopped and spotted one interesting memorial which I made a detour to photograph, on reflection this was probably the most ornate of them all that I saw.  
 
 
Continuing further I spotted a path and stopped, because coming up the path was what I thought was a fox. We stood and looked at each other and I started taking pics, but he was a bit far and I could not be 100% sure. It did not look like a dog, but the bushy tail was not there, and I will be honest I do not really know whether it was one or not. I like to think it was.
 
 
Eventually I came to the memorial I was looking for.
 
 
  
The cemetery was bombed during the war, and a number of memorials and buildings were damaged by bombs, it is also probable that a number of graves were damaged too, and of course the dead are buried in this cemetery. The Docklands area is not too far away and that was a prime target for the bombers overhead. 
 
I continued my meander, pausing occasionally to photograph a headstone or a group of headstones. 
 
 
The designs are all very similar and virtually indistinguishable in the undergrowth.  Again the similarity with Abney Park is very prominent, although the paths here were well tended and overall the cemetery was wild, but not madly unkempt. There is a a Friends Group that looks after the cemetery, and they do seem to be doing a reasonable job considering that they are probably all volunteers. 
 
Eventually I came to what was nice grouping of memorials, and it was actually quite odd to see this group together. 
 
 
The grouping on the left have two different surnames, while the grouping on the right have the same, but why the similar headstones? I have no idea. Still, the two crosses were really stunning, although both of the angel figurines are looking somewhat worn. 
 
Various areas of the cemetery are named as woods, dales and glades, and given the nature of the place it is well suited to what I was seeing around me.  
 
 
  
One thing I did feel was that there wasn’t that heaviness that I experienced in Highgate and Nunhead, and it was actually a nice cemetery to walk through. It was obviously very popular with the locals as I kept on encountering people walking or jogging through it. That  is one thing I do like about these glorious old cemeteries, they have become parks in their own right, in the Victorian Era they were seen as places to visit and promenade, today they are green spaces to use at leisure. 
 
 
 
Then it was time to head off to my next destination, the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red commemoration at the Tower of London. I was planning to go from Miles End to Liverpool Street and then onwards to Tower Hill Station. I hadn’t spent as much time as I had planned here, so had a bit of leeway to play with.  I had not been able to find the ruins of the Anglican Chapel that were somewhere in the cemetery, but had seen pretty much what I wanted to so as to get a feel for the place. The last thing I photographed was the slightly derelict lodge, which really needed some TLC.
 
 
In many of the cemeteries I had been in the lodges were in private hands, and I think that they could make for interesting living spaces, after all, you are at the doorway of one of London’s Magnificent Seven, and a very pretty place it is too.
 
 
 
 
Tower Hamlets is not a great cem, it will never be on the scale of Highgate or Brompton, but it does feel like a lot of the normal people of London are buried here as opposed to the “upper crust” buried in the more better known cemeteries, but at the end of the day, when the money ran out they all faced the same issues with all of these garden cemeteries (with the exception of Brompton), a cemetery that became an urban forest, and is now a tourist attraction for those who like rooting amongst the long forgotten dead. 
 
 
© DRW 2014-2018. Created 15/08/2014, images recreated 19/04/2016
 
Updated: 30/12/2017 — 20:34

Random Churchyards: Sarum St Martin, Salisbury

When I first started working in Salisbury I used to walk from the station to the opposite end of town where I worked. It was a long and hard walk, and every morning I would pass the church of Sarum St Martin.

It was not a very big church and trying to get a complete image of it was impossible because it was surrounded by trees and buildings. However, it had a large graveyard.

I marked the graveyard as being a candidate for my “Cemetery in the Snow” photography session if ever it snowed in Salisbury while I was there. Sadly, it did not snow and I only managed to do a Cemetery in the Snow in January 2015 while I was in Basingstoke.

Unfortunately, because I was always in a rush I never got a chance to take a really good look at the churchyard because I was always in a rush, although that did change when after I finally moved to Salisbury. I would sometimes pop in on a Friday on my way to the station to grab a few pics but never really did a proper photography session there.

 

Legibility was poor on the graves and I managed to find one that was legible enough to transcribe. 

My dreams of the great photo shoot happened on 22 November 2014 when I hit an early morning mist in the area, and these are some of the results. (the images work much better in mono which is why I have converted them to greyscale)

As for the church, it was never open while I was there, except for one occasion when builders were inside erecting scaffolding and I was able to grab some pics.

It was not ideal though and I left shortly afterwards. Eventually, one Friday afternoon I saw the door was open and I went inside where I met the Church Secretary just as she was about to lock up and she showed me around quickly.

I seem to recall taking more pics than I can find in the folder, and it is possible they do exist, but I seem to have been using my phone instead of my camera which would have left me with limited image capability.

I do recall that it was a very pretty church on the inside, and quite old too, I even have a booklet about it somewhere, but the history is better explained on the relevant page of their website . Quite a few puzzling discoveries were made in the church at various periods, and it all goes to show that this church, or rather, this parish, has been around for a very long time.

Sadly I never did return to the church, and when I rediscovered these images decided that it really needs to be up there with some of the other images from Salisbury.  Hopefully some of my explorations will turn up the booklet as well.

st_martin09

I left Salisbury on 9 November 2014 after an enjoyable year there, and this church was part of the attraction.

© DRW 2014-2018. Retrospectively created 07/05/2016

Updated: 29/12/2017 — 07:36
DR Walker © 2014 -2018. Images are copyright to DR Walker unless otherwise stated. Frontier Theme