musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Roll of Honour

Finding the Ashchurch War Memorial.

When I moved to Tewkesbury in 2015 it was inevitable that my camera lens would be on the lookout for churches, cemeteries and war memorials. The Parish Church of St Nicholas being the one church closest to where I was living at the time.  I made two visits to the church and once I had done those I put it out of my mind and concentrated on other things. However, I was unaware that there was a war memorial associated with Ashchurch and this past week I realised that I had missed out. 

St Nicholas Parish Church

On Boxing Day of 2017 I headed out on my trusty velocipede to find the war memorial, having flagged it on Google Earth first ( 51.997611°,  -2.105686°). The break in the clouds was just enough for me to go photograph it. It was not a warm day though with a bitter wind rattling around my ears. The winter sun was low on the horizon too which did not auger well for photography. 

It is not too difficult to find it, you literally follow the cycle path until you find St Nicholas church, then cross the road and there you are. 

What you cannot see from the photograph is the island that separates the memorial, village hall and school from the frenetic traffic on the A46. It also explains why  I never saw it when I went looking for the Chieftain tank outside the MOD Depot.  Everything that I had been after had been on the opposite side of the road!

MOD Depot Gate Guard

The memorial is described as “Cross with ‘roof’ ends on top and each arm, set on capital on top of square tapered column on three step base” (http://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/20772)

 

Remembrance Day was almost 2 months ago  and there are still wreaths at the memorial. The main inscription reads:

There are three panels with names from both World Wars, 24 from the First World War and two from the 2nd. It will be interesting to see how many of them are buried in the graveyard of St Nicholas Church just over the road. At a later date I will add these names to my “Lives of the First World War Community”, but for now though I was finished and it was time to head off to the shops and get some food into the fridge. I may come back here one day when the sun is not as low on the horizon for better pics, but for now I could tick this memorial off my list. 

Ashchurch Village Hall

The names on the memorial may be seen at http://www.glosgen.co.uk/warmem/ashchurchwm.htm.   

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 26/12/2017

Updated: 26/12/2017 — 12:56

Finding The Fallen: Sutton Coldfield.

On my recent trip to Birmingham, one of the stations that I passed was Sutton Coldfield, also known as “The Royal Town Of Sutton Coldfield”. The only reason I decided to head out that way was because according to my list, there were 46+3 graves buried in the old cemetery in the town. That is reason enough for me, and I packed my goodies and headed out in that direction. 
 
It did not seem to be too big a place, although my Google Earth  Map did show a substantial park, as well as the usual conglomeration of buildings, churches and houses. My goal was not too far away although I did mess up by taking the wrong turning. (I seem to be doing that a lot lately), and it was probably because I detoured at the Holy Trinity Church first. 
  
There is an interesting plaque in the park below the church that was of interest, and it sums up a bit about the town. 
Sutton_coldfield163
 
 
Bishop Vesey is buried in this church and he has a lot to do with the revival of the town after the War of the Roses. Sadly the church was not open so I could not go look at the effigy inside the church. The graveyard has been levelled, and the headstones are now stacked along the periphery wall. The area around the church is much higher than the floor level of the church which could be as a result of the amount of burials within the original churchyard.
 
The cemetery I was going to was really and overflow for the churchyard, and it in turn had an extension once it was full.  
Following my detour I eventually found the cemetery, and started at the extension as there were only 3 graves there to find. The extension is also full, and I wonder where burials are now happening? I walked the rows, looking for the first burials, but it was quite a large area. 
 
Fortunately my graves were in an area close to the road and I almost fell over them while I was looking. Unfortunately they are not a healthy colour, and are really in dire need of cleaning. 
 
Then I headed to the old cemetery, with its lodge and chapel. I did have grave numbers for the graves, but these did not tally with how the sections were marked on the map.
 
I was just going to have to find what I could and try reconcile those known graves with graves that I was missing. 46 does not sound like a lot, but the reality is that once the recognisable graves have been found  the private memorials are what is left over. Their legibility is often poor, and in some cases the headstones are overgrown with moss, or even toppled.
  
As cemeteries go it was not too bad, a nice mix of old and newish headstones, although some parts were looking slightly sparse. The easily found graves went quickly but I was soon sitting with 8 graves that were hiding from me, and I had to eliminate each one separately. By roughly midday I had only two to go and the discovery of grave numbers on the occasional grave did mean I could walk a section and count, and then try another section and count. Surprisingly both graves were right under my nose! The private memorial toll was quite high too, I found 8 PM’s amongst the graves, and that was surprising.   Rent paid, it was time to head off home. 
 
I headed in the direction of the station, but veering slightly off course towards where a sign had pointed out the Town Hall was. If there was a war memorial it would probably be close to the Town Hall. 
 
 
My supposition was correct, and the War Memorial was opposite the Town Hall on a small island. It was a very pretty memorial too, very reminiscent of some that I had seen in London.
 
The Town Hall was also quite nice, with an impressive clock tower. Although the actual building seems to be in danger of becoming more yuppie pads.
 
I was close to the station so decided to get myself over there and homeward bound. The station is not really a huge one,  but it does have a very nice tunnel, and I waited for the light at the end of the tunnel!
 
When it did arrive it turned out to be the local to Birmingham, and not one of the many diesels that I had heard at the cemetery.
 
 
It appears that at some point close by the railway splits, with the diesels and their container trains heading in one direction, with the locals in the other.
 
The station was also the site of a rail disaster on 23 January 1955, but I am not sure where it happened in relation to the station as it was on that day. A plaque was unveiled at the station to commemorate the event.
Sutton Coldfield Rail Disaster Mmemorial_- 2016-01-25

Sutton Coldfield Rail Disaster Memorial_- 2016-01-25

(Image by © Optimist on the run, 2016 /, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46600852)
Master and Miss Harrison are both buried in the churchyard of  St Peter and St Paul, Weobley, Herefordshire.  
I had accomplished what I had set out to do, and was suitably satisfied, peckish and tired. There was not too much to see in the town though, and I doubt if I will head out there again, but it was an interesting interlude and a glimpse into yet another interesting town. 
 
© DRW 2015-2018. Images migrated 30/04/2016, updated 24/11/2016 
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 15:48

The National Memorial Arboretum

This morning, while on our way to the Tramway Museum we paused briefly at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, near Lichfield. It was more of a reconnaissance as opposed to a dedicated visit, and I was forced to use my phone as my camera is now sans its full compliment of batteries (which I lost somewhere).   
It is a mighty space, housing a large number of memorials, and places to remember those who never came home. We only really explored what is known as the Armed Forces Memorial. 
 

It is probably the first place people gravitate too, and it is also the place that “….honours those members of the Armed Forces (Regular and Reserve) who were killed on duty while performing functions attributable to the special circumstances and requirements of the Armed Forces, or as a result of terrorist action, and those who died while deployed on designated operations“.

It is a large open space, with a circular wall full of the names.

 It is also a stark and powerful place, and tragically there is space for even more names.

Two statue groupings are found on either side of the central laurel wreath. These were created by Ian Rank-Broadley.

The grouping on the left features four men holding a stretcher aloft with a figure on it while on either side others seem to question and mourn the tableau.

The other sculpture has 5 figures in it, a male and female seemingly moving a nude male figure, with a male figure chiseling words on the wall in front of him. Another figure indicates an opening in the wall, which is inscribed “Through this space a shaft of sunlight falls at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of eleventh month”.

 

 

The sculptures represent Loss and Sacrifice, but each figure on its own could be interpreted differently depending on how they are viewed, I found them very powerful, and the one image that really struck me was the woman with the child. The images are graphic and strong, and somebody had left a red flower in the hand of the nude figure. The redness of the flower contrasting sharply with the stark bronze that held it, and the grey clouds overhead.

 

And with the Falklands Conflict anniversary at the moment, it is fitting to remember the many casualties that are inscribed on this wall. I wonder if there is something similar in Argentina?

Admittedly I was sceptical about the Arboretum, but having seen just this single memorial I now understand it better, but I am afraid that by its nature it is a solemn and sad place.

There are over 50000 trees here, on a 150 acre sight, with over 300 memorials, there is probably something for everybody here, and for families of  servicemen and women, it is a place of remembrance and healing.

My session only explored a small part of the whole, I am hoping to go back one day, although hopefully in better weather and armed with a full compliment of battery power.

Auxiliary Territorial Service Statue 1938-1949

Auxiliary Territorial Service Statue 1938-1949

Women’s Land Army, & Women’s Timber Corps

That brought my visit to an end, but I did not come away empty handed, these images are something to work at, to try to understand the emotions involved in those  bronzes, and to ponder the names on the walls.

 
I did return to the NMA and it was quite an experience. Read all about it here. 
 
© DRW 2015-2018. Created 03/05/2015, images migrated 29/04/2016.
Updated: 31/12/2017 — 16:02

The wreckage of remembrance: brakpan

It is important to note the use of lower case in the title of this post because frankly brakpan does not deserve the use of upper case. On 19 November I was in the brakpan area to photograph the derelict Anzac Rand Revolt Memorial,  I had plotted my course to pass the “Garden of Remembrance”  at Google Earth co-ordinates -26.228904°,  28.361723°. When I arrived at the spot I was really expecting something great, but was sadly disappointed by what I saw. 

At some point in time this may have been a really nice park, with large palm trees, possibly a fountain and terraces with green. Instead it was an abandoned travesty of a park, with uncut grass, an empty fountain, litter, and a war memorial that had been vandalised and neglected for a long time.

The “memorial”, or should I say, “what was left of the memorial”,  may be seen in front of the furtherest lamp standard in the image above. 

It is even worse up close. The inscription has had the brass lettering stolen and I was able to piece part of it together by sheer luck.

Those words come from  poem “God’s Garden” by Dorothy Frances Gurney.

n August 2008 I was informed that the name plaque which was on the memorial had been removed. At the time I suspected that it had been stolen, but fortunately I did have images of it so the names were known. On 13 November 2011, I was contacted by Joe Borain who explained that the name plaque had been removed from the derelict memorial and a new Wall of Remembrance was erected at the Cosy Corner Moth Shellhole in Brenthurst, Brakpan, and the plaque had been installed there. I visited the Shellhole to view the new  wall in December 2011 and was able to photograph the newly built wall at the Shellhole.

The restored Roll of Honour at Cosy Corner Shellhole

The restored Roll of Honour at Cosy Corner Shellhole

Fortunately somebody had realised that the Roll of Honour would serve no purpose at its old location and at least now it is safe and is used as a centre for commemoration. 

As for the “Garden of Remembrance”, 2016 Google Street View images reveal that it is pretty much the same as when I saw it in 2007. The shell of the memorial is still there, and I expect will eventually end up falling down or being stolen. Somehow I doubt whether anybody in the brakpan council really cares. They never do.

© DRW 2007-2018. Retrospectively created 23/07/2016. 

Updated: 24/12/2017 — 09:53
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