musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Victoria Cross

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

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

Return to St Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery

I had last been in Kensal Green in March 2013, and had never been too happy with the pics I had taken. To exacerbate matters, when I went “next door” to St Mary’s I had been caught in a snow storm and had had to abandon my expedition without finding the VC graves I was looking for originally. Kensal Green is an impressive place, and it is the sort of cemetery that you need a lot of time in because there is just so much to see. 

Getting there is not too difficult. You grab the Bakerloo Line, change trains at Queens Park, then travel one station to Kensal Green. The cemeteries are both not even 200 metres away. Because St Mary’s Roman Catholic cemetery was more of a priority I headed there first. There were 3 Victoria Cross graves that I needed to find; these were the graves I had not found in 2013, and now I was armed with a description of each grave on top of the map I had gotten from Kevin Brazier in 2013.

The cemetery is a Roman Catholic one and it can be quite overpowering with the many mausoleums and statues. It is however quite large, but I did not venture too far from the main gate and chapel area.

The road from the entrance leads to this split, the building on the right is the chapel and one of the mausoleums is next to the pole. The Belgian War Memorial is on the path leading left.

The Chapel

The Chapel

There are enough mausoleums to fill a blog post, and some of them it is possible see inside because of clear or broken windows. Some are really beautiful inside, but I often wonder how many people actually go into them so many years after they were erected.  Some are in a poor condition, but generally they seem to be in a sound condition.

 

Looking at my images now it is difficult to imagine a Victorian era funeral taking place here. It was established in 1858 so the funerals were not only a time of mourning but often a social event.

My personal favourite has to be this one. 

My VC grave search went well and I was able to find all three graves in short order, although I kept on being distracted by statues and small details on graves. I cannot help it, that is how I am.

 

I have to admit she is beautiful, but I do wish I had photographed up into her face.

There are 318 CWGC casualties buried in the cemetery, although I did not go deliberately hunting them down as the cemetery has already been photographed;  naturally now I regret not doing it. But, it is always a reason for returning one day.

 

The weather, which had been warm with slightly blue skies was changing, and I decided that I really needed to get next door and see what was going on there. So I made tracks for the exit, and will leave you with some random images.

Random Images

 
 

And then it was time to head next door to Kensal Green (All Souls) Cemetery. I bade my farewells and walked down the lane, I felt much better now that I had had a chance to explore a bit of this place, unlike last time when I was more interested in keeping snow off my lens than anything else. Who knows, maybe one day I will return.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 10/06/2016.   

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:12

The Battle of Jutland

The anniversary of the Battle of Jutland is one that is rarely remembered, because the war at sea was far remote from the realities of the slaughter of the trenches in France. The clash of the Grand Fleet and the High Seas Fleet sent many sailors to their deaths, often trapped within the ships that they fought, or drowned as the cold waters of the North Sea closed over them.

 

The Royal British Legion produced an information pack to commemorate the battle and I have drawn heavily from that pack to produce this post.

I have never really understood this Clash of Titans, my interest is more related to the ships themselves than the physical act of battle. However, it is 100 years since the thunder of guns was heard in those distant waters, and it is fitting that tribute be paid to those who lost their lives in or after the battle, and to remember them as being part of one of the largest and most costly fleet engagement of the First World War. The battle, which took place over Wednesday 31 May and Thursday 1 June 1916 and the 100th anniversary provides an opportunity to commemorate the sacrifices and contributions made by all those from the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy, fishing fleets, shipbuilding towns and coastal communities who continue to guarantee The United Kingdom’s security in peace and war.

A Short History and Reflection.

Jutland will always be remembered for the huge sacrifices that our naval personnel made. Britain is an island nation with no town more than 75 miles from the sea. Many families therefore have relatives who served at sea and this is the perfect moment to reflect, not only on the sacrifices made during this sea battle but also to commemorate the maritime contribution and the sacrifices that have been and continue to be made by all those from the Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and coastal fleets who serve to ensure the nation’s security.

In 1914, Britain had the biggest and strongest navy in the world. Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz (1849–1930) greatly expanded the size and quality of the Imperial German Navy, until the German Navy grew to become one of the greatest maritime forces in the world, second only to the British Royal Navy.

After the British success at Dogger Bank in holding back the German attack in January 1915, the German Imperial Navy chose not to confront the numerically superior British Royal Navy in a major battle for more than a year, preferring to rely on its lethal U-boat fleet. However, in May 1916, with the majority of the British Grand Fleet anchored far away at Scapa Flow, Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer believed the time was right to resume attacks on the British coastline. Scheer ordered 19 U-boats to position themselves for a raid on the North-East coastal town of Sunderland, using air reconnaissance craft to keep an eye on the British Fleet. Bad weather hampered the airships, however, and Scheer called off the raid, instead ordering his fleet to head north, to the Skagerrak, a waterway located between Norway and Denmark off the Jutland Peninsula, where they could attack the Allied naval interests and with luck, punch a hole in the stringent British blockade.

Unbeknownst to Scheer, however, a newly created intelligence unit in Britain had cracked the German communication codes and warned the British Grand Fleet’s commander, Admiral John Rushworth Jellicoe, of Scheer’s intentions. Consequently, on the night of 30 May, a British fleet of 28 battleships, nine battle cruisers, 34 light cruisers and 80 destroyers set out from Scapa Flow, bound for positions off the Skagerrak.

On 31 May, a British naval force commanded by Vice Admiral David Beatty spotted a German squadron of warships and confronted them some 75 miles off the Danish coast. The two squadrons opened fire on each other simultaneously. This lasted around 55 minutes, during which time two British battle cruisers (HMS Indefatigable and HMS Queen Mary) were destroyed with the loss of 2,000 sailors. The remainder of the German fleet then joined, so Beatty was forced to fight a delaying action for the next hour, until Jellicoe arrived with the rest of the Grand Fleet. Both fleets faced off in their entirety, and a great battle of naval strategy commenced. As sections of the two fleets continued to engage each other throughout the late evening and the early morning of 1 June, Jellicoe manoeuvred 96 of the British ships into a V-shape surrounding 59 German ships. The German flagship, Lutzow, was disabled by 24 direct hits but was able, before it sank, to sink the British cruiser Invincible.

Admiral of the Fleet John Rushworth Jellicoe,

Admiral of the Fleet John Jellicoe,

Admiral of the Fleet David Richard Beatty

Admiral of the Fleet David Beatty

The German fleet withdrew under cover of darkness at 18:30 on 1 June, thus ending the battle, and cheating the British of the major naval success they had envisioned.

The Battle of Jutland engaged a total of 100,000 men aboard 250 ships over the course of 72 hours. The Germans claimed it as a victory for their High Seas Fleet. At first the British press agreed, but it was not so clear-cut. The German navy lost 11 ships, including a battleship and a battle cruiser, and suffered 2,500 casualties; the British sustained heavier losses, with 14 ships sunk, including three battle cruisers, and 6,000 casualties. Ten more German ships had suffered heavy damage, however, and by 2nd June 1916 only 10 ships that had been involved in the battle were seaworthy. The Royal Navy could have, however put 23 ships to sea at this point. On 4 July, Vice Admiral Scheer advised the German high command that further fleet action was not an option, and that submarine warfare was Germany’s best hope for victory at sea. Despite the heavy losses, the Battle of Jutland had left British naval superiority on the North Sea intact. 

 

 

Many of the casualties from HMS Queen Mary, HMS Black Prince, and HMS Invincible are remembered on Portsmouth Naval Memorial, where around 10,000 sailors of the First World War are commemorated.

Key Facts

  • The Battle of Jutland was fought over 36 hours – from 31 May to 1 June 1916
  • There were a total of 250 ships in the battle; 151 British Grand Fleet and 99 German High Seas Fleet
  • There were 100,000 sailors overall engaged in the Battle, of which 1 in 10 were wounded
  • More than 8,500 were killed in total; 6,000 British, 2,500 German
  • Death was sudden and on a huge scale – Queen Mary 1,266, Indefatigable 1,017, Invincible 1,026, Defence 903, Black Prince 857 (German: Wiesbaden 589, Fraulenlob 320)
  • One thousand men lost their lives when a magazine exploded on the British battlecruiser Indefatigable
  • The British Grand Fleet was under the command of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, who after the war became one of the founders of The Royal British Legion
  • There was no clear winner in this battle, but it did convince the Germans never again to challenge the British Navy in the North Sea
  • This was the first time in history that a carrier-based aeroplane (from HMS Engadine) was used for reconnaissance in naval combat
  • There were four Victoria Crosses awarded after the Battle. (Jack Cornwell (HMS Chester), Francis Harvey (HMS Lion), Edward Bingham (HMS Nestor) and Loftus William Jones (HMS Shark)). 
  • HM The Queen’s father – George VI, the then Prince Albert, Duke of York – took part in the battle, and was mentioned in despatches for his action as a turret officer aboard Collingwood
  • The last surviving veteran of the battle, Henry Allingham, a British RAF airman, died on 18 July 2009, aged 113, by which time he was one of the last surviving veterans of the First World War
  • The British losses amounted to 113,300 tons sunk. (Battlecruisers: Indefatigable, Queen Mary, Invincible. Armoured cruisers: Black Prince, Warrior, Defence. Flotilla leaders: Tipperary. Destroyers: Shark, Sparrowhawk, Turbulent, Ardent, Fortune, Nomad, Nestor.)
  • The German losses amounted to 62,300 tons sunk. (Battlecruiser: Lützow. Pre-Dreadnought: Pommern. Light cruisers: Frauenlob, Elbing, Rostock, Wiesbaden. Destroyers (Heavy torpedo-boats): V48, S35, V27, V4, V29

The Battle of Jutland also caused a rethink about the way capital ships were designed and fought, and some of the flaws in the British ships were addressed. Unfortunately the vulnerability of the battlecruiser design would be once again exposed when HMS Hood was lost to KMS Bismarck in 1941

The most famous Battle of Jutland VC recipient was Boy 1st Class Jack Travers Cornwell, aka “Jutland Jack”.  

John Travers Cornwell, Boy 1st Class (RN) was born on 8 January 1900, at Leyton. When the First World War broke out his father promptly joined the Army, and Jack joined the Royal Navy. He went through preliminary training at Devonport from 27 July 1915 and became a Boy 1st Class on the light cruiser HMS Chester for active service in Admiral David Beatty’s 1st Battlecruiser Squadron.

A few months after Jack Cornwell joined his ship, Admiral Beatty came to grips with the German High Seas Fleet near Jutland on 31 May 1916; he was mortally wounded in action, and died two days later in Grimsby hospital. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross [London Gazette, 15 September 1916]:

“Mortally wounded early in the action, Boy, First Class, John Travers Cornwell remained standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly awaiting orders, until the end of the action, with the gun’s crew dead and wounded around him. His age was under sixteen and half years.”

The Times’ History of the War records that Cornwell “had been brought ashore, he had died at Grimsby of his wounds, and through one of the stupid blunders which are inseparable from officialdom he had been buried in what was no better than a pauper’s grave. No sooner was the truth known of the lad’s last hours of life and the manner of his death than public opinion demanded a befitting reinternment. Accordingly the body was exhumed, and there was an impressive funeral in Manor Park Cemetery. A picture of the boy, standing by his gun, with Admiral Sir David Beatty’s report of the incident, occupies a position of honour in more than 12,000 schools.”

On 23 March 1917, a large company witnessed at the Mansion House the presentation to the Board of Admiralty of Mr. Frank O. Salisbury’s picture, ‘John Cornwell, V.C., on H.M.S. Chester.’ Sir Edward Carson, the First Lord, received the picture and paid a high tribute to the dead lad’s courage and example. “I ask people who grumble if they ever heard the story of John Travers Cornwell… I feel that this boy, who died at the post of duty, sends this message… to the people of the Empire: ‘Obey your orders, cling to your post, don’t grumble, stick it out”.

The 5.5″ gun from HMS Chester that Jack Cornwell had manned during the Battle of Jutland is on display at the Imperial War Museum.

 

A lot has been written about the mistakes made at Jutland by those in command, but so little has been written about those who manned the magazines or who operated the engines or who fed the crew. When I was young there was a quizz programme on Springbok Radio, and I recall that one of the contestants was being quizzed on the Battle of Jutland. At the time I thought that he was incredibly knowledgable about the battle, but that it was not really a subject that somebody like myself would ever understand. I still do not understand it.

The Battle of the Somme was famous for the carnage that was inflicted during the campaign, but at sea it was a different story altogether. Once the ships had passed and the wreckage was dispersed there was nothing left to see, it was as if nothing had ever happened, but those who were there will tell you that it was a battle like none seen before, or since, and those who were in it would never forget it.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 30/05/2016. Most of the information on this page comes from the Royal British Legion Information Pack on the battle of Jutland. I have also used links to Wikipedia and of course Victoriacrossonline  

 

Updated: 01/01/2018 — 16:15

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

Basingstoke Holy Ghost Cemetery

It’s true, I have a new favourite cemetery: Basingstoke Holy Ghost Cemetery. I spent a pleasurable hour there this morning while home hunting, and it is magnificent. It is seldom that you get a bit of everything in a cemetery, this one had most of it.
 
The entrance I used was in Kingsclere Road, and the lodge there is a real beauty. The building dates from 1865, and the cemetery is also known as Basingstoke South View, or Old Cemetery.

 

Once through the gates there is a short slope and the cemetery is there in all its glory. The information board says that this was the towns burial ground from the 13th century to the early 20th century. The cemetery is full, but there are not too many headstones, the balance of the space is taken up by unmarked graves.  There are 20 CWGC graves in the cemetery, including the grave of Capt. John Aidan Liddell VC.

 

There are not too many statues, but there are lots of very pretty headstones, and there was one anomaly that I have not before.

I don’t know if this was a footstone that was transplanted, or whether this was one way to commemorate more than one person in the same grave. Many of the smaller headstones only had initials and a date on them. I have not seen this before, so it may just be a peculiarity of the area. 

 
The cemetery also boasts of a Quaker burial ground, and I really had to search to find it, although it was right under my nose. Badly overgrown, the graves stand behind what are known as “tank blocks”
 
These date from World War 2, and were used to protect the nearby railway station. The small headstone and small green covered mounds in the image above are the Quaker graves.  Close to these graves are the chapel ruins, and these are definitely interesting. There are two distinct sets of ruins here, the lower one was built in the early 13th century, and was dedicated to the Holy Ghost. All that remains are the west wall and the door.
 
The larger set of ruins is that of Sir William Sandys Holy Trinity Chapel, its origins are from the 15th century,  it was built as a place for Sir William Sandys to bury his family. 
 
Albeit more intact the chapel suffered during the English Civil War when the stained glass windows were removed. The chapel is now in a state of magnificent dereliction, its floor still covered in the engraved slabs used as floor monuments in many of the cathedrals I have seen. The complex also served as a grammar school until 1855, when a new school was built close by.

The tower is gated closed, but inside it are some more headstones, although why they are imprisoned in here is anybody’s guess.

 
 
There are two weathered tombs with effigies of knights on them, this one is possibly the tomb of Sir William De Brayboeuf, and dates from 1284.
 
No cemetery would be complete without a great tree, and this one is no exception to the rule, a really magnificent specimen lightened up my day with its beautiful colours and sheer grace. 
 
  
It is now November so Autumn is here and the light during this session was fantastic.
 
There was only one really good statue, and it was in quite a good condition too, although a bit too high for my liking.  The headstones were generally in a good condition, although many were no longer legible. Delamination had occurred on a number of them, rendering them unreadable.

 
There were quite a few chest tombs, and of course I kept on coming back to those wonderful floor monuments in the chapel ruins. I do need to investigate at least 2 of them as they relate to the Sandys Family.
 
 
The oldest one that I noted was from 1700, and I am sure that there may even be older, but age and weathering really takes its toll so legibility is often poor with these. 
 
 
And then it was time to start making tracks and head off to my next destination. As I will be moving to Basingstoke during November I will probably be returning here. With Winter approaching the chances of catching this cemetery in snow increases, and I know it is really one that is worth the effort. It is really a beautiful space. 
Random Images.
 

And finally, on my way out I discovered this gem.

 
How many cemeteries can boast of something like this? not too many I assure you (although they probably do have, but don’t boast about it)
 

Update: 31 January 2014.
 Cemetery in the snow.

And in the early hours of 31 January 2015, the first snow fell, and while there was not a lot of it, there was enough for me to grab my camera and head out. With hindsight the pics from the 31st were mediocre compared to what I got on Tuesday. Visit the Cemetery in the Snow link to see this place in the snow. 
 

 

© DRW 01/07/2014-2018. Updated 03/02/2015, images recreated 20/04/2016

Updated: 31/12/2017 — 09:00

St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green 2013

Use the arrow to return to Kensal Green
 
St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery

I do not have many images from here, but it was definitely a fantastic place, I just wish I had had the time to explore it more. Unfortunately a snow storm hit the cem just as I arrived at it and I had to abandon my photography session. I never did get back here again. I did however return in June 2016 and did a blogpost about it. It is quite odd to compare the two sets of images. 

The Belgian Soldiers Memorial (First World War)

The Belgian Soldiers Memorial (First World War)

The first thing that caught my roving eye was the beautiful Belgian Soldiers Memorial which also seemed more worthy of being in a public place than in a cemetery.
The snow was starting to become problematic as I was struggling to keep my lens dry and search for a VC grave too. But I had to admit defeat and decided that I would grab more pics and then head out of there.

   
   
   
   
I now had five of the Magnificent Seven under my belt, and only two days to go before I leave for Southampton….. I hoped that one day I would be able to see West Norwood and Tower Hamlets, and that actually happened but nearly two years after this visit. I always regretted never getting back to Kensal Green in better weather. My experience was really ruined by those grey skies and snow flurries. But that is the thing with grave hunting, sometimes you have to get the shot because tomorrow may be too late.

Kensal Green is managed by the General Cemetery Company since its inception  in 1830 and they still have offices by the main gate. It is still very much a working cemetery, and there was a service happening during my visit. The Friends of Kensal Green run tours of the cemetery on a regular basis. 

 
© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated and links repaired 29/03/2016. Spilt off from original Kensal Green 2013 page
Updated: 28/12/2017 — 07:20

Kensal Green (2013).

Before I head off to Southampton I really wanted to squeeze in one more of the Magnificent Seven Cemeteries in London, at first I was going try for West Norwood, as it theoretically wasn’t too far from where I live, but then decided at the last minute  to try for Kensal Green. The wonderful weather I had had in Abney Park was not going to continue and even snow was forecast! This visit meant I had to change to the Bakerloo Line at Elephant and Castle and climb off at Kensal Green. In 2016 I revisited Kensall Green and I have replaced 2 of the photographs in this post.
A bit of an odd train change at the station before really confused me, but fortunately I arrived more or less intact. I did not use the main gate, but rather the gate next to St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery which was next door.
Kensal Green was the first commercial London cemetery to open in 1833 and was designed by George Frederick Carden. My first impression was of mausoleums all along the paths, and fortunately that did change as I went along, but they just kept getting grander and grander all the time. 
I do suspect that I hit paydirt when I came across this particular one with its Sphinx guardians, and extra ornamentation.
 

While hunting VC graves I returned to this mausoleum and discovered a very nice sculpt of a drovers hat with gloves in front of it. The tomb belongs to Andrew Ducrow, a British Circus Performer. What does something like this cost? £3000 apparently (and that was in 1837). 

Spirit of Ecstasy. (Thea Cannonero Altieri, born 21/06/1910, 29/10/2000)

Spirit of Ecstasy. (Thea Cannonero Altieri, born 21/06/1910, 29/10/2000)

In the meantime I continued on my way until I reached a large building which is the Anglican Chapel, and from what I have read the crypt is underneath this building.

On either wing of the building were magnificent statues, the one pictured being for Georgina Clementson. Apparently she was the daughter of John Graham Lough, who sculpted this memorial.

The other is the really magnificent Robert William Sievier (1794-1865) Memorial. It is a magnificent piece, much more suited to a museum than faded chapel in a cemetery.
 

Continuing my exploration I finally arrived at the main gate, (which I had not used), it is an impressive building on its own, but it does pale into insignificance when compared to some of the mausoleums inside the cemetery.

I also came across the Dissenters Chapel which was also very impressive, and it is the first Nonconformist Chapel to be built in a public cemetery.

Then it was time to turn around and start searching for the Victoria Cross recipient graves, of which there are  15 in Kensal Green. The problem here is that the graves are not always that legible, and the weather was really starting to become a problem, as soft sleet was occasionally falling. My route took me back along the road I had come, pausing every now and then to check a section off on my list. The selection of graves beyond the pathway was less impressive memorialwise, and some were really beautiful. 

Image from 2016

Image from 2016

The image of the horse and rider is in a very poor condition, and it is now scheduled for restoration. The records show that Alfred Cooke was interred in the tomb in 1854, and it is a grade II listed monument. 
Walking through a cemetery like this is always difficult because of the variety of ornamentation and headstones that may be all around, and every now and then there is a splash of colour.

 

Of course there are the angels and cherubs and strange statues, my personal favourite in any cemetery. Kensal Green has a lot that I had not seen before, but again there are just so many…

The child statue on the right I just had to find again, and I did in 2016, and she was just as I rememebered her. 

The VC search was not going well either,  there were just so many distractions all around me, and at some point I considered giving up the search altogether. One of the graves took me to what must have been some sort of gallery/collonades where they had wall memorials on display. It was not in a good condition and signs warned of unstable structures.  

The plaques that lined the walls before are now mostly broken off, and the interior of this pillared building has an apocalyptic feel about it.

Generally I do not hunt down celebrity graves unless they are of interest to me, and I was fortunate to encounter two graves of famous people. The first was one of Britains finest engineers. He was responsible for so many feats of engineering and shipbuilding that he is legendary. I have seen quite a few odds and ends that Isambard Kingdom Brunel created, and this grave really is special to me.

Image from 2016

Image from 2016

Surprise number two was the grave of Jean Francois Cravelet Blondin (aka Charles Blondin), the man who crossed Niagara Gorge on a tightrope. In fact the list of “rich and famous” for this cemetery is a formidable one, but I did not have access to the list so may or may not have photographed some of the graves on the list. The Victoria Cross graves mean more to me than some of the graves of the rich and famous (and titled), and many of these are simple headstones, often missed amongst the ostentation of some of these creations.

 
There is a microcosm of British Victorian Society buried in Kensal Green, and it must have really been something to see the elaborate Victorian funerals that must have taken place. Make no mistake, the Victorians had death down to a fine art, and woe betide those who did not adhere to those unwritten rules.
And in death you had to show the world a public face (or effigy, or something equally grandiose). Today many of these memorials are “listed buildings”.

Yet the cemetery is not only mausoleums and grand headstones, there are also section where the only ornamentation is a simple gravestone.

Time was marching though, and the weather was still not on my side, If anything it was becoming increasingly more unpleasant. My VC tally stood at 6 and I was not getting anywhere. I had to start preparing to go home. First, I had to pause at the Commonwealth War Graves Memorial to pay my respects. Strangely enough I had not seen too many CWGC headstones in the cemetery, and I found the Cross of Sacrifice purely by accident, 

And with that I had to close off Kensal Green, I still had to stop next door at St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, but given how the sleet was turning to snow I expected that I would not be able to spend much time there at all.  Use the arrow below to access the St Mary’s page

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© DRW 2013-2018. Images recreated and links repaired 29/03/2016, St Mary’s split off 01/02/2017
Updated: 28/12/2017 — 07:21
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