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W/1239 Pte Edward Lawton, No 1 Coy, 13th (Wirral) Bn Cheshire Regiment finally gets his CWGC headstone

W/1239 Pte Edward Lawton, No 1 Coy, 13th (Wirral) Bn Cheshire Regiment finally gets his CWGC headstone

In December, 2011 Peter Threlfall, Chairman of WFA Merseyside, contributed a fascinating article about his recent discovery of his distant relative, W/1239 Pte Edward Lawton, No 1 Coy, 13th (Wirral) Bn Cheshire Regiment, and his subsequent campaign to get a Commonwealth War Graves Commission war grave put in place on his otherwise unmarked grave.

After two and a half years, this finally happened on 4 September 2013. Peter's intention is to have a small graveside service in way of a dedication to this long lost Wirral Pal, on Saturday, 19 October, 2013, at about 12 noon. Any WFA members who would like to attend would be most welcome.

Please contact Peter for more details if you wish to attend.

 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 October 2013 14:06 )

 

WFA Commodities announcement

WFA Commodities announcement

Fiona and Mark McGrath are to stand down from their positions as Commodities Officer and Assistant Commodities Officer and the Executive Committee thanks them both for their contribution to the Executive Committee and for their commodities work over the years.

If you have any queries regarding commodities purchases, please contact the WFA Office.


Steve Oram

WFA Hon Secretary

WFA Worcester and Herefordshire Branch Seminar 19 October 2013

WFA Worcester and Herefordshire Branch Seminar 19 October 2013

Update: conference booking deadline now extended until 4 October.

WFA Worcester and Herefordshire Branch has arranged our autumn seminar for Saturday, 19 October this year at Worcester University. Our speakers are Jeremy Banning and Richard van Emden.

We are very keen to attract relevant local societies and organisations which have an interest in military history in general and the Great War in particular. This includes WFA members and I have sent details to our eight adjacent branches; Avon, Birmingham, Cheltenham & Gloucester, Heart of England, Midlands (East), Somerset, Wiltshire and Wolverhampton.

Tickets are priced at £10 each.

Please find attached below two PDF files. The first is a booking form which can be printed off, completed and returned as per listed instructions. The second shows our double-sided publicity poster which includes full details of the day's itinerary and booking procedure. The deadline for ordering tickets is 27 September 2013. Places are limited so early action is recommended.

If successful, this event will be the forerunner to further presentations, in partnership with the university, over the centenary years. We plan to present themed seminars, over one or two days, once or twice a year up to 2018.

Many thanks
Steve Moorhouse
Worcestershire & Herefordshire Branch

 

Attachments:
FileDescriptionFile sizeLast modified
worcs_hereford_seminar_2013_booking.pdfWorcestershire and Herefordshire Branch Seminar 2013 Booking Form83 Kb01/09/13 15:16
worcs_hereford_seminar_2013_poster.pdfWorcestershire and Herefordshire Branch Seminar 2013 Poster408 Kb01/09/13 15:17

Last Updated ( Sunday, 29 September 2013 15:33 )

WFA East Coast USA Summer 2013 Bulletin

WFA East Coast USA Summer 2013 Bulletin

2013 has been a busy year for the WFA East Coast Branch (USA) which has undertaken a major centenary project: The World War 1 Centennial Network. The aim of the network is to bring together museums, historic sites and organizations in the United States to cross-promote WW1 public programs and activities, and to boost public awareness as we approach and experience the centenary years. The Network revolves around a new collective website which features links to each of the member organizations, a blog, an events calendar, and sections devoted to WW1 news, literature and film. The Centennial Network was formally unveiled in March 2013 at the National World War I Museum's International Centennial Conference and today serves as a primary information portal for news and events in the US related to The Great War 1914-1918.

Logo: WW1 Centennial Logo: The official logo of the World War 1 Centennial Network created by WFA Web Editor and Developer David Henderson.

 The Western Front Association was an official sponsor of the US National World War I Museum's International Centennial Conference and Branch Chairman, Paul Cora, spoke on behalf of WFA and the Centennial Network. Footage from the conference and several of the excellent sessions can be viewed here on the WFA's website and the WFA YouTube channel.

The Branch held its Spring 2013 World War 1 History Symposium on 1 June at the 5th Regiment Armory in Baltimore, Maryland. Some 70 attendees enjoyed presentations on Wilson at the Paris Peace Conference, the lesser-known aerial operations over Tsingtao and Africa, the US occupation of the Rhineland 1919-23, and the recent AEF book Hell's Observer. Attendees we also treated to a guided tour of the Maryland Military Museum (housed within the armory) by Joseph Balkoski, one of the best known historians of D-Day and the US 29th Infantry Division writing today.

Image: WFA East Coast Branch Chairman Paul Cora (left) with historian Joseph Balkoski representing the Maryland Military Museum. In gratitude for the museum's hospitality on 1 June, the Branch presented Mr Balkoski with a certificate naming him "Honorary Branch Commander."

Image: Author Bruce Jarvis showcases his AEF book HELL’S OBSERVER for WFA East Coast attendees

Image: William T Walker of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library speaks at the WFA East Coast Spring 2013 Symposium on Wilson and his role at the Paris Peace Conference.

 

The Branch will hold its Fall 2013 World War 1 History Symposium at the York County Heritage Trust, York, Pennsylvania, on Saturday 12 October. Among the speakers will be the nationally renowned author Richard Rubin who will be showcasing his new book "The Last of the Doughboys". Additionally, there will be presentations on African Americans in the AEF, the German naval mutinies, a strategic interpretation of the British Indian Army in World War I, and an examination on the role of the capital ship in the causes and course of the war, and the shaping of the peace which followed. Full details on the event can be found at the Branch website.

Article and images by Paul Cora

 

Last Updated ( Thursday, 29 August 2013 07:11 )

Some Kind Hand: a Great War Pilgrimage - August 2013 update

Some Kind Hand: a Great War Pilgrimage - August 2013 update

Since our last update in July, Nancy and I have now completed our 1915 programme of visits. In referral, we returned to France on 1 August and took up residence at the "Velodrome" campsite in Albert. Our programme included 38 burial grounds across the Somme Department.

As background:

In July 1915 the British Third Army was formed under the command of Sir Charles Munro. Divisions of V11, X (and later) X11 Corps relieved the French Second Army on the front: Curlu (on the River Somme) fifteen miles north to Hebuterne, and on to the right flank of the French Tenth Army (holding the Arras sector). This was not the precursory move that brought about the Somme offensive but was effected to allow the French to prepare their simultaneous attack from Artois and Champagne, in September 1915.

Several of the 1915 Somme burial grounds will be familiar as "1916 battlefield cemeteries": Norfolk, Dartmoor, Carnoy and Authuile for example. Whilst it is true that they all contain casualties from the Somme offensive, these burial grounds were established by the earliest fighting units to arrive on the Somme (August 1915); some eager to protect their own battalion (or regimental) burial plot. A degree of confusing and irregular layout is often the result. Carnoy is a very good example of this "policy"; 2/K.O.S.B which buried their first casualties in row D, then followed with further burials behind in rows E & F; rarely do fighting units' burials extend along the length of a row.

Also, at Dartmoor, for example. it is not unusual to see a vacant space between headstones. This could be from the removal of French/German burials after Armistice. It could also indicate the destruction of the grave by artillery fire. In this case the casualty is usually commemorated by Special Memorial; "Known to be Buried in this Cemetery" and with corresponding detail in the cemetery register. It wasn't until reading the visitor's book at Dartmoor Cemetery that I became aware that not all destroyed graves are treated thus. A visitor had recorded that his grandfather who had died of wounds (at High Wood) on 15 July 1916, had originally been buried in Dartmoor Cemetery under a memorial cross. He is now commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Thiepval and not on a special memorial within Dartmoor Cemetery! A vacant space we noted corresponds with the date of his death.

The eventual arrival of field ambulance added some sense of organisation, particularly farther in rear of the fighting line. Examples include Forceville, Mericourt-L'Abbe, Villers Bocage and Suzanne, all of which are extensions to French communal cemeteries. I am aware of instruction from the French authorities regarding burial regulation into their cemeteries, but will need to research this point at a later date. Certainly the layout of this category of burial ground is well defined and easily followed. The vast majority of 1915 Somme burial grounds already contained a varying number of French burials when the British took them over; most were subsequently exhumed after the Armistice and reburied in French cemeteries or repatriated.

The arrival of Field Ambulance units further forward, particularly in 1916, began to infill the "generous" spacing of the early "fighting unit" burials, creating further confusion for the cemetery visitor. Later 1918 burials and post war concentrations add to this confusion. I needed to understand these burial grounds. Therefore we have commenced the plotting of burial dates against the cemetery plan to fully understand the chronology of burials; such is the detail that we are trying to draw out of our Pilgrimage. The work we undertook at Lijssenthoek and Etaples was the benchmark for this later inclusion. I really do not like a cemetery layout to baffle me!

A further responsibility we have gladly inherited is to become the extended eyes of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Beaurains. A chance meeting with Nelly Poignonnec (communication and public relations supervisor) at the funeral of an Unknown Soldier at Danzig Ally on Wednesday 21 August, she was made aware of our Pilgrimage. She explained the reciprocal arrangement the CWGC has with local French communes – the responsibility of the local mayor – home to many isolated churchyards and communal cemetery burials. Here the cycle of CWGC visits can be as low as one visit every seven years. Until now we have only reported (for example) incorrect headstones, lack of signage or wrong addresses for cemetery location; assuming that the CWGC dealt with poor headstone cleaning and overgrown or weed invested ground!

Our weather throughout August has been the summer of childhood memories – it is raining as I write! However hot, sunny weather is not ideal for standing in front of glistening white Portland headstones for several hours and, at least on one occasion, we have had to return to a cemetery to take photographs because of the position of the sun. On several occasions we have been grateful to Lutyens, Blomfield and co for their design of a covered area to shelter from the rain. These same structures have now sheltered us from the sun! We really should complain; after all we are British!

With the work to replace panels suspended until October, we completed our 1915 Pilgrimage at the Loos Memorial on Saturday and Sunday 17/18 August; no more fitting location could there have been to bring our 1915 Pilgrimage to a close.

We have added a further 194 burial grounds and memorials and said "thank you" a further 116,290 times. In total we have visited 392 burial grounds and memorials and said "thank-you" 252,287 times. Still along long way to go: Thiepval Memorial looms large.

On our return from the Loos Memorial, I was mystified as to why Captain Kilby VC, who is inscribed on the panel to the South Staffordshire Regiment, was not in the cemetery register. He gained his VC posthumously, leading his company and continued to encourage them after his foot was blown off. The Germans raised a memorial to him, but his grave was not found until 1929 when he was buried in Arras Road, Roclincourt. His name had already been inscribed on the Loos Memorial, inaugurated on 4 August 1930. As far as I can determine, no names have ever been removed from the Loos Memorial; there are no infills as on the Thiepval memorial.

As I was sat outside the campsite office - the only place to access the camp wi-fi – researching Kilby's story, my Geordie neighbour was showing his annoyance at the ongoing "Rooney Story". At that point I had just read that Kilby's VC was sold at auction last year for £276,000. Just ten days pay for Mr. Rooney!

Article and images submitted by Steve Binks

Accompanying images:

Forceville (top)
The attached image features a design of an "Unknown" headstone which I have never seen before. The base of the stone is obscured and reads, "The Lord Knoweth Them That Are His." Forceville was one of the five trial cemeteries chosen by the Imperial War Grave Commission (predecessor to the CWGC) and the IWGC perhaps changed the design before replicating it in other cemeteries? The name of the cemetery is also absent from the exterior.

Captain Young (middle)
Photographed in Sucrerie Military Cemetery; I suggest the headstone says more than any words that I could add. ["He sleeps in peace. May God remember him for ever." - Ed]

Private Baker (below)
I have photographed most of the privately-raised, non-standard headstones and memorials. Unfortunately the majority are unreadable but thankfully the CWGC has added their standard headstone in front.

 

 

Last Updated ( Friday, 30 August 2013 16:10 )


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