Tag Archives: war memorial

A Sad Story of Modern Life

I stopped to take a picture of the war memorial while I was in Hardwick village (part of the Clumber Estate) yesterday.

There was something different about it but I couldn’t quite place it until I had a closer look.

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Hardwick Village war memorial

As you can see from the close up – the bronze plaques are missing.  According to the various newspaper stories the “engraved brass” plaques have been stolen. They were actually cast bronze, which is completely different, but I won’t waste my time discussing that. Like the teeth of hens and the droppings of rocking horses, the accuracy of journalists is very rare.

I’m not sure I want to live in a society where people deface graves and steal memorials for scrap metal. I had a wide choice of examples to use there – I selected Michael Foot’s grave as being suitably neutral. I could have chosen stories on Jewish graves or Muslim graves being attacked in the UK, or British war graves being attacked in Libya. It’s a depressing world.

Fortunately, the names are preserved for posterity, so at least the sacrifice will not be forgotten.

It’s tempting to hold forth on respect, education, crime, punishment and the decay of civilisation. However, whatever I say won’t alter the situation, even if I had anything useful to say.

Really I just wanted to write something as a (mild) protest at this sort of thing.

Sadly there’s not much else I can do.

 

 

 

Memorial Garden – Old Hunstanton

While we were cruising round Hunstanton on our recent holiday we ended up in Old Hunstanton. It’s called that because it’s the original part of the town that used to exist before they built the new resort.

I knew there was a lighthouse there but I have no recollection of the ruined chapel. It must have been there, because it was built in 1272. It’s dedicated to Saint Edmund, King of East Anglia. He reputedly founded the village of Hunstanton before meeting his end at the hands of the Great Heathen Army of the Danes.

It was not a pleasant end, featuring torture, shooting with arrows and beheading, as he refused to renounce Christianity. Even if he had renounced Christianity it’s difficult to believe that his death would have been any different.

The legend is that the East Anglians recovered the King’s head with the help of a wolf. Accounts vary, but there’s usually a touch of the supernatural about the wolf in the legend. From there a cult of sainthood grew up round the dead king. The abbey at Bury St Edmunds housed his shrine until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539. One notable pilgrim was King Canute, who converted to Christianity, rebuilt the abbey and, on a visit in 1020, offered his crown as a penance for the acts of his ancestors.

That is why there is a carved oak wolf by the archway.

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St Edmund’s Wolf, Hunstanton

The area around the chapel was made into a memorial garden in 1915 by a local vicar, the Reverend Alfred Toms. It was supposedly because his two sons were killed, but as they didn’t die until 1916 and 1917, this can only be part of the story.

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War Memorial Garden, Hunstanton

The story probably starts with one of the benches in the garden.

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Memorial bench – Nurse Edith Cavell

Nurse Edith Cavell was executed by the Germans on 12th October 1915. She was seen as a martyr at the time, having helped around 175 people to escape from the German occupiers of Belgium, her adopted home. This was a gift to allied propagandists at the time, though a British investigation after the war considered it perfectly legal. We had, after all, executed twelve German spies during the war – eleven shot at the Tower of London and one hanged in Wandsworth Gaol.

Nobody really comes out of a war with clean hands. Ask Mata Hari.

 

The other bench commemorates Captain Charles Fryatt , who was executed in 1916. He was a Captain on several ferries travelling between the UK and the Netherlands, who were neutral in the Great War. Once he outran a German ship and on another occasion he tried to ram a U-Boat that was attempting to sink him. Finally his luck ran out when he was trapped by five German destroyers. He was tried for the “crime” of sinking a German submarine, even though he only forced it to dive. The verdict, predictably, was death by firing squad.

He was famous at the time, but is now largely forgotten compared to Edith Cavell. I’m not sure if they are still about, but at one time he did sometimes crop up on badges and brooches at antique fairs.

Finally, what’s the link between Edith Cavell, Charles Fryatt and the Unknown Warrior?

Answer – their bodies all travelled back to the UK in the same railway carriage.

 

 

 

All Saints, Panxworth

We were pottering along through the Norfolk countryside when we found this tower.

Fortunately there was a notice to give us a clue.

All Saints Church Tower, Panxworth, Norfolk

All Saints Church Tower, Panxworth, Norfolk

It seems that it fell into disrepair, was rebuilt in the 19th Century and again fell into disrepair, being pulled down in 1969. It was reputedly used by Satanists, struck by lightening (which may or may not be connected) and restored again.

It’s an interesting place, and well-looked after, but there isn’t much to keep you, not even an information board. Fortunately there is plenty about it on the internet.

Interestingly, some of the gravestones show the same names as the war memorial. The continuity of the countryside is an amazing thing.

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War Memorial, Panxworth.

Landguard Point, Felixstowe

We went to Landguard Point while were were in East Anglia earlier in the week. We were in Felixstowe saw the sign and in our normal holiday mode simply followed it. We follow a lot of random signs.

Sometimes you find something interesting, and sometimes you find a sun-blasted shingle bank with a variety of marginally interesting things to see.

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War Memorial – Landguard Point

The aeroplane in question was a Handley-Page Hampden which flew into a barrage balloon cable en route between RAF Waddington and Emmerich in Germany.

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HMS Beehive

HMS Beehive was a stone frigate, as the Navy calls them. As you can see from the plaque it was a busy place.

I’ve always thought that the contribution of the Coastal Forces has been largely forgotten over the years. Peter Scott is mainly remembered for his work with birds rather than for his time with coastal forces in the war, whilst Patrick Troughton is mainly remembered for playing Dr Who.

If they’d flown aeroplanes everyone would remember them. The same goes for Robert Hichens. He’s a very interesting man when you read his life story but does anyone remember him? He’s buried in Felixstowe, but I didn’t realise that until I was researching the link or I’d have taken a picture for the blog.

 

 

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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Clitheroe and Family History

We went to Slaidburn on Monday, taking the tree picture on the way. It’s a fascinating old village, which wouldn’t look out of place in a Harry Potter film (or a Hammer House of Horror film for those of us who remember them).

I’ll be writing about that visit in a couple of days.

Then we went to Clitheroe. It’s a pleasant small town not far from Pendle Hill, and it has cropped up a few times in recent posts, mainly as a residence for various members of my family. I used to enjoy visiting it when I was a child, though I have to say that I never noticed how hilly it was when I was younger.

It was a dullish day so I had a go with the effects on my computer – not sure if it’s worked or not. One of my early memories is of visiting the war memorial with my grandmother and being shown her father’s name on the side.

 

Like so many others he’s just a name on a memorial now, I doubt if anyone who knew him is alive now.

These are various homes of the Carus family over the years. The one with the red car is where my grandmother was living with her widowed mother in 1917, and may be the one where the family photo was taken. The view of the castle is the one they would have seen when they stepped outside.

Harry Carus and family. Clitheroe 1915.

Harry Carus and family -1915

The house with the silver car outside is the one where all the family lived in the late 19th century – all nine of them!

The other one, with the box balls in the front garden, is where Isaac Newton Carus lived, before handing it on to one of his sons.

I have a lot more to do, so this is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a strange feeling, seeing all these places where family used to live, particularly as I must have passed within 100 yards of one of them dozens of times without realising.

The missing Whitby Photos

Do you remember around a month ago I lost a camera card? At the time I said it held some great photos of Whitby.

Well, I found the card. Unfortunately I found it while looking for another card which I dropped. I found the old one, but now I can’t find the one I dropped. To make things worse, the photos aren’t as good as I thought they were as the light was going and many of them are blurred. Added to that the composition and effects didn’t seem as good as I remembered.

It’s always the same isn’t it? As Shakespeare pointed out, old men remember with advantages. Or in sporting terms – the older I get, the better I was.

To add insult to injury I just posted a half-finished post – I just can’t get used to the Publish button being next to Post Settings.

I used several of the buttons for altering the camera settings as it was growing dark and it’s very tempting to add to the general Dracula feeling of the town by using the “dramatic” setting (though it really just darkens things).

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The new Whitby war memorial

The new memorial was erected in 2013 when people realised that there was no town war memorial, apart from the War Memorial Hospital, which had been demolished (though the original plaque was moved to the new hospital) and the memorial boards in the church. I think they really meant there was no place for them to hold a ceremony.

It is made from Norwegian green granite, which is significant as the local regiment (The Green Howards) served in the Norwegian campaign in 1940. The campaign lasted 62 days, which doesn’t seem long but, according to Wikipedia, was longer than any other nation resisted the Germans apart from the USSR.

This seems unfair on Norway as I’m pretty sure that the USSR started by dividing Poland up with the Germans, so their record of resistance is patchy.

Finally we have an attempt at an arty shot of crab pots and a portrait of Julia taken as an experiment.

 

I think I may stick to portraits and crab pots in future as pictures of War Memorials encourage thoughts of politics which is bad for my blood pressure.