Category Archives: war memorial

A Hundred Years Ago…

Sorry, this is a bit of a downbeat post, but it relates to events 100 years ago today, and it seems appropriate. This is from the Clitheroe Advertiser on 21st December 1917.

Obituary notice - Wm H Wilson

Obituary notice – W H Wilson

It’s not quite accurate, as he’d originally volunteered in 1914 but been turned down (my grandfather went with him to volunteer that day but claimed to be less than nine months younger than him – this was hailed as a medical miracle by the recruiting sergeant, who also rejected my grandfather.) The fact that he wasn’t called up until  a year after conscription could indicate that he was needed on the farm as part of the war effort, but there is no indication on his card.

He joined the battalion in July 1917 and was wounded in action on 22nd October, a slight gunshot wound to the head according to his medical records. Slight? They were obviously tougher in those days.

He rejoined the battalion on 5th December, and was, as reported in the paper, fatally wounded whilst in trenches in the Ypres salient on 12th December.

He is buried in Lijsssenthoek Militart Cemetery and is unusual amongst the three members of the family killed in the war in having a marked grave.

 

This is the lisy of personal effects sent home to his mother – photos, wallet, cigarette case, cards, 2 cap badges, 2 numerals (probably shoulder titles), 9 carat gold ring (WHW), 1 farthing, bag.. They would later send a tin case containing a safety razor and blades. Shaving was a complicated subject in the trenches.

WHW Effects

He was, according to one of my great-grandmother’s letters, walking out with a local woman, before being sent to France. At that point he had only five months to live and was to be wounded twice and mentioned in despatches in that time.

    

The war memorial in Slaidburn (currently being restored) features his name, as does my great-grandmother’s gravestone (which also mentions my great-grandfather). If you compared the war memorial  figures at Clitheroe and Slaidburn you will see that they are the same, something I learned whilst pteparing the previous post on Clitheroe. She never recovered from Billy’s death (he was Billy to the family – William to record-keepers) and threw out anything that reminded her of the war. That, we are told, is why there is no existing photo of him.

Great-grandmother is buried in Chatburn, the village where my mother was bombed, and where I later went to school less than 100 yards from the gravestone, which I never knew about until a few years ago.

This closes the circle as her son-in-law is commemorated on Chatburn war memorial – something else I never knew when I went to Chatburn school – the school is the building in the background of this photograph.

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More kites and a memorial

The day started well, with blue skies, a list of jobs and packet of croissants. The croissants were soon gone, accompanied by by some excellent three fruit marmalade I found lurking in the back of a cupboard. After a spot of washing up and a trip to the hobby shop for Julia to buy glass paint. At that point the sky began to cloud over. It’s tempting to invoke the pathetic fallacy there, but I was actually quite happy sitting in the car with a notebook, so in metaphysical terms there was no threat of rain in my life.

In reality the rain started just after lunch as I set off for Peterborough. This put a bit of a crimp in my photographic plans for the day. By the time I’d been beaten at Snakes and Ladders and Dominoes and had a cup of tea there still didn’t seem much hope of sunlight so I abandoned my plans and headed home.

Fortunately I didn’t quite go directly home and managed to get a flying kite picture. I almost got a picture of a pair of flying kites but the first pair flew away as I got out of the car and the second pair turned out as a flying kite and a blur.

Finally, as I was in the area, I nipped up the road to the village of Kings Cliffe – one time site of King John’s hunting lodge and, in later years, the last hanger-based concert of Glenn Miller. I found the air base memorial but not the Glenn Miller memorial (one internet forum says it was destroyed by vandals a few years ago).  As vandals also broke the air base memorial a few years ago, and it is currently defaced by inane scrawl, it seems that there isn’t much to do in Kings Cliffe at night.

Christmas gathers momentum

When the Christmas jumpers start you know that the big day can’t be far off.

Today we’ve done more decorations and we’ve been working for Shipshape Arts, a company describing themselves as an “artistic creation company”. They are based in a barn on the farm and do quite a bit for us – including helping us with the Education tent at Flintham Show and making the quoits we will using for the Christmas hoopla. In return we try to help them a bit, though “help” may be be putting it a bit strongly.

Today they gave people hats. You can see them being worn in the main picture. Of course, not everyone got a hat. For some reason I didn’t, despite the fact that my poor bald head needs some warmth. Just saying…

This is one of the statues that they put up for us recently – looked at from this angle it’s a bit more noticeable than it is when you stand on the back of the Ecocentre looking across the field. The stone that looks like it’s on the right comemorates the air crash in 1944 – it’s actually on the left but there’s a curve in the road.

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This is one of “The Sweepers” that were originally shown at the Southbank Centre Festival of Neighbourhood. We also have “The Neighbours”, who were also at the Olympic Park before coming up here. Did you know there was a market in second-hand statues? I didn’t. It was quite a performance putting them up, with low-loaders, forklifts, power tools and lots of helpers.

This is “The Neighbours” taken from a deceptive angle, inreality they are several hundred yards from the kitchen.

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We’re decorating the Christmas tree now. It’s a bit early for me (though I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas, to be fair) but it’s turkey tasting time this weekend and we are aiming for a Christmas Dinner feel to the centre.

Finally – I nearly got a picture of a bird feeding at the table. We’ve had great tits, blue tits, pigeons, chaffinches, robins, house sparrows, greenfinches, starlings and wood pigeons so far. It could be better but we’re hoping it will build up as time goes on. Meanwhile they are all quick to take flight and added to a cheap camera and poor light levels I haven’t much to show for my photographic efforts. Looks like I’m going to have to borrow my wife’s camera or wait until the butterflies come back in summer.

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At least you can tell it’s a robin, most of the others have been unidentifiable blurs.

Time to remember

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That’s some of our group at the war memorial. The village war memorial is just a gravestone engraved with the names of the two men from the village who died. I believe there is also a plaque to a WW2 casualty in the church.

This one is the memorial to the air crash in April 1944.

A Lancaster from nearby RAF Syerston collided with an Airspeed Oxford from RAF Wymeswold, with eleven airmen dying.

We have a link to the crash on the farm, apart from one of the aircraft coming down on our land. (I’m not sure where the other fell – must check). Margaret Rose, the mother of farmer David Rose, was out playing when she heard the crash and saw the aircraft falling.

Flight Lieutenant Bill Reid won the Victoria Cross whilst flying from RAF Syerston – read this if you want to see what it takes to be a hero. After the war he worked in agriculture, including British Oil and Cake Mills (BOCM), where my father also worked. Just goes to show that all the best people work in farming.