Archive for the ‘History’ Category


Names & Particulars of 5 Soldiers Buried at Le Cateau

on Sat 8th July 1916 in the Cemetery there

in my presence C.C.Frank 2nd Lieutenant

7 West Yorkshire Regiment


1             S.H.Graham No: 3734 Ist Queen Victoria Rifles

Home address The Punch Bowl Inn Turners Hill Sussex

Severe bullet would in head 3 Doctors gave him every attention

2             Noble queen’s Westminster Rifles A Company

Taken to the College as a severe case on arrival

Query – lived at Balham Qy No4022 Platoon

3             C.F.Butt No 1721 London Rifle Brigade

5th City of London regiment

Travelled with him Wounded in stomach


4             Ford No 339 5th City/County of London Regiment

L. M . L. (?)

5             An unknown man. They have photographed

him & sent photo to Bureau at Berlin

will send it via Switzerland to England

and any things he had too – He was very

badly wounded and sent to the College at once as

dangerous case

6             (Not died) Ollerenshaw H.S. Sergeant in the 5th

City of London Regiment (London Rifles Brigade)

Severely wounded in left leg

These particulars given by H C Sichnell No 2198

of same regiment

Married                Wife lived at 51 Eastwood Road

Goodmayes Essex

c/o Mrs Challens

119 Elgin Road

Seven Kings



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Army Message Book 153 WW1 diary

Army Message Book 153

Army Book 153 WW1 diary

Army Book 153, Inside front cover


Army book 153 WW1 diary

Pages 1-33 are torn out. P34: 7 July 1916. Seven days after being wounded and captured, Charles made a list of the details of the wounded men, including himself

Addresses of Men 7th July 1916

Keith William Gould

2nd Lieutnt IX Royal Irish Rifles

Ingelside Seaford Sussex England

Left shoulder bullet wounded


Robert C ????burgh

2nd Lieutnt IX Royal Irish Rifles

c/o Dr Darling, Lurgan Ireland

( Chin wounded)


C. C. Frank.

2nd Lieutenant

7 West Yorks Regiment

Leeds Rifles

c/o Barclays Bank




Army Book 153 - p34v Addresses of men 7th July 1916

p34v the list continues

2nd Lieutnt Reginald Fellorton

IX R Irish Rifles


(left ???)                             Ireland


2nd Lieutnt J J Haigh

Selly 5th York Lancs

(Right hand)


Captain A Whyte

16th Royal Scots

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary


2nd Lieutnt J W Mausby

Yelverton Norwich

6th North Staffordshire Regiment


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“I have a confession to make, Grandfather.” I lean forward – earnest, shy. After all, I don’t know this man, although I am learning much about him. And he certainly doesn’t know me. How to manage this nascent relationship?

He looks at me. His eyebrows rise almost imperceptibly. I think he knows what I’m about to say. I’m unable to meet his gaze. I have to fill the silence, and start gabbling.

“I’ve been reading it – well, trying to!” I strangle a nervous laugh recalling that our previous conversation about his writing hadn’t ended well. “Your diary from 1916 – in your Army Message Book – preparations in Le Havre, the goat eating your door curtain – remember?! The nightingale? Going over the top on the First of July, being wounded. Your capture, for goodness’ sake! Then the hospital train, PoW camp at Gütersloh…  Your friends, Grandfather.”

He turns away with a sigh.

“I’m sorry. I really can’t simply leave it. It’s just – well, you held onto it for years, then dad kept it, too – along with the essays. They were always there ‘in the garage’ wherever we were living depending on where dad was posted to. I can’t ignore that. They’ve all been put away for decades, and – well, now I’ve read the essays, done some research – I understand so much more, I’m making sense of it. And of you, and dad, maybe. A little, anyway.”

He is silent. I so want his approval. I lay my hand on his shoulder, but he stays turned away. The rough wool of his jacket feels like barbed wire under my hand.

“Grandfather, the first essay I read – quite by accident, I just pulled it out of the jumbled pile – was ‘A Road’ which is the first essay to do with the War you wrote, and that wasn’t until 1922. I thought it was a most extraordinary piece of writing! You describe noticing the sunlit day and the trees and insects with lyrical beauty, and all while you’re under enemy bombardment and facing machine gun fire! You wrote it as a memorial to the ‘… thousands of brave men’ who used the ‘corduroy road’ of the title. Please understand, Grandfather. The reason I’m reading your diary is that I have that same impulse – I can’t just leave you in the darkness, and all the people you mention…” Shaking slightly, his slender, fly-tying fingers, so like dad’s, briefly touch my hand.

I think it’s the closest I shall ever be to having his blessing.

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Well – we’ve done it. By the skin of our teeth (as usual) we’ve posted off our Christmas cards just in time for the Christmas delivery deadline. The process was much speeded by the application of address labels in preference to hand-writing the address on each envelope. This is an eminently practical thing to do and therefore – understandably – it is a widespread practice.

In fact, most of the Christmas card envelopes we get bear our address blandly typed within neat white rectangles. I confess, this saddens me a little as, given the opportunity, I take great delight in recognising the writing of the sender, before opening a card. I love the individuality of hand-writing and, sadly, it’s ‘public’ use seems to be on the way out. Not surprising really, as most of the means of communication we use on a regular basis require use of a keyboard, so there is little need to write anything beyond lists and ‘post-it’s.

I guess handwriting must be taught in schools as part of teaching children to read, so it’s unlikely to die out completely, but I wonder how much a person’s writing will reflect their personality if they don’t write very often? Will writing styles all become so similar they end up indistinguishable?

I recall my writing being ‘corrected’ at each of the many schools I attended (I was Forces child, not a reprobate… not really, anyway) and I tried all sorts of different approaches including rounded or skinny letters, slanting or straight, closed loops or open, added flourish or puritan plain. I even dallied with strange descenders which flicked forwards then backwards, ending tiny loops on the ends – mercifully, that phase didn’t last long. Rough hand-writing seems to run in my family – my dad’s was well-nigh illegible, and his dad’s was – well, challenging!

Without intending to, I’ve ended up with two quite distinct ‘styles’:  a hideous barely formed scrawl when I’m making hurried notes for myself, or a strange barbed-wire flurry of strokes for ‘public consumption’ comprising odd spiky characters and – unaccountably – a looped descender on a lower-case ‘b’ (where that came from, I have no idea!).

Hate to think what either says about me – thank goodness for address labels!

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“Honestly, your writing’s terrible!”

Grandfather looks up from the fly he’s tying – a March Brown, he told me as he settled at a table covered in small boxes of silks and feathers. “What are you reading, lass?”

“It’s this” I waggle his Army Field Message book in his direction. Army Book 153.

“I had been shot in the shoulder when I was captured.” he reminds me, exasperated.

I sigh. “I know, Grandfather, forgive me. It’s just… well, I really want to be able to read it”. He looks at me – carefully excluding from his glance the book in which he’d scribbled bits of his life in 1916 . “I’d like to find out more about your time in PoW camp.”

“Well, lass.” His hands fall from his work. “I came back. It should rest there.”

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Lendal Bridge - geograph.org.uk - 766795

Lendal Bridge – geograph.org.uk – 766795 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In and around York

In and around York (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In these days people remember “Hawkins. J.” chiefly as a as a severe and stern judge feared by the “professional criminals” who came before him. But he was also a man of great experience of the world, and of very wide and human sympathies. And he had a real gift of quiet humour, though he was rightly careful not to exercise it too freely when upon the Bench.

As some of my readers may know, the bridge over the River Ouse at York called “Lendal Bridge” was an ancient Toll-Bridge, until it was freed from Toll a good many years ago.

It must be quite thirty years since at the “Judges’ Breakfast” at York, and with great enjoyment, Mr Justice Hawkins told this story of his adventure upon Lendal Bridge.

‘You have some strong and very determined men in this City of York, my Lord Mayor,’ said Mr Justice Hawkins with a twinkle in his eye,

‘I came across one last night in my walks abroad who was no great respecter of persons. A stout and hardy rogue, indeed, who in fact held me to ransom, very much in the fashion I fancy that would be the common usage towards strangers in this City some generations ago!

‘Oh yes! He knew who I was! That is to say, I told him; but it did not make much difference that I could see! Nothing serious, my Lord Mayor, nothing serious at all: merely a refreshing instance of a man knowing what he wanted: – and getting it!

‘I came out of the Club alone just after mid-night, and I thought that I would take a stroll before returning to my lodgings. It was a fine moon-light night and not at all cold, the street was deserted and my cigar was just at its best, as I decided to finish smoking it upon the bridge.

‘I crossed to the opposite pavement to have a look at the old Abbey and the Bridge Tower, and then paced slowly along the bridge, glancing from time to time at the moon’s reflection in the River.

‘Your ancient Guildhall has a noble frontage, my Lord Mayor, and when I was near the far end of the bridge, I re-crossed the road-way and returned along the pavement on that side to look at it. The Guildhall, with the old buildings alongside it clustering down to the River, reminds one of a part of Bruges, or of one of the old Cities of the Continent.

‘It was all very quiet and peaceful, and I stood in the middle of the bridge for some moments, enjoying the scene.

‘As I turned to move on I was confronted by a short thick-set man, heavily clothed, and buttoned up to the chin in a stout over-coat. This individual, who seemed to have sprung from no-where, completely barred my passage.

‘He stretched out his open palm and said in a rough hoarse voice:

Ah want a ’awp’n’y.”

‘I was startled by his sudden appearance and did not quite understand his speech, so I said: “What is it that you want?”

A ’awp’n’y” repeated the man decisively.

‘A light dawned on me and I said: “Oh, I see! You are asking me for a halfpenny. Why do you want a halfpenny?”

For bein’ on this ‘ere brig”

replied the man.

‘“I do not quite understand you.” said I “If you are in need of some money and will explain why you stop me in this extraordinary way, I will see what I can do for you. But I do not like my walk being interrupted in this fashion.” His reply:

Ah’s waitin’ fer that ’awp’n’y”

was not what I had expected, and did not make things any clearer.

‘My impression then was that this man was holding me up to ransom in some way for this ridiculous sum, for some mysterious purpose – he obviously did not mean to let me pass without paying it.

‘So I thought I had better tell him who I was. The place was quite deserted at that late hour; and, though roughly respectful in his manner he seemed very determined, and slightly truculent.

‘Drawing myself up, and directing a stern glance upon him, I said: “Sir, do you know who I am?”

Noa,” replied he “an’ it disn’t matter: Ah want a ’awp’n’y.”

‘“Sir,” said I “I am Mr Justice Hawkins, Her Majesty’s Senior Judge of Assize and Goal Delivery in this City of York, and I would have you to understand that in my official capacity in this City, I represent the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty!”

Vărry likely,” replied the man “but I want that ’awp’n’y.”

‘I suppose that nobody particularly likes being told that it does not matter who he is, so in my most severe judicial voice, I said: “Come, come, Sir! You must tell me exactly why you want a half-penny… then I will decide whether I will, or will not, give it to you – not otherwise.”

Nea-body walks on mā̈ brig wi’out paäying me a ’awp’n’y” replied he.

‘“Your bridge!” exclaimed I scornfully. “Since when has this old and public bridge become your property?”

It’s t’ Toäll-Brig,” said he impatiently. “T’ toäll’s a ’awp’n’y, an’ Ah collects it. You owt tĭ know that!”

‘“Oh! A toll-bridge! How interesting!” said I. Then, as an idea struck me, I continued “Her Majesty’s Justices of Assize represent the Crown and therefore do not pay any tolls. Besides, the toll is surely collected for crossing the bridge, and I have not crossed it.”

‘These seemed to me to be both good sound points, Gentlemen, but this man entirely disregarded them, and merely remarked:

Let’s ha’e less of thy talk! An fork out that ’awp’n’y – Ah’s nŭt gie’n’ ti̔ wait ‘ere all t’neët!”

‘I tried a different tack.

‘“But supposing that I declined to pay, my man?” said I, very severely indeed! “What then?”

Ah sŭd chuck yer ower t’brig” said he.

‘“I’ll take very good care you don’t!” cried I. “What!” I went on “What, Sir!” for the loss of a half-penny toll you would throw me over this bridge! Not knowing or caring even whether I could swim or not?!”

Aye” he replied, “that’s it!”

‘“Why I might drown, Sir!”

Yer vărry likely mŭd,” he agreed, quite composedly. “Unless yer a good swimmer. There’s a lot o’ watter in t’ river ti̔-neët.”

‘“Why! That would be a most gross assault! Nay!! It would be MURDER, Sir!! For which the penalty is Death – by hanging.”

Aye” was the sole reply.

‘“So,” cried I “So, Sir! For the sake of a paltry half-penny you would contemplate, without horror and in cold blood, the heinous crime of murdering one of Her Majesty’s lieges? To say nothing of one of Her Majesty’s Justices of Assize! What, Sir! This is incredible!! Can you possibly be in your right mind?!”

Aye” said he.

‘“For a half-penny, a half-penny! You would…!” (words failed me.)

Aye! Ah wŭd!”

‘I stared at him thoughtfully, in silence.

‘Gentlemen, the discussion of an interesting legal question, begun in proper academic form, seemed now to have descended to a lower plane; and in fact to have reached an impasse.

‘I was not really afraid that my opponent would resort to his threatened forcible argumentum ad hominem: but on the other hand it was not at all clear to me how I was to make good my passage to my lodging without distinctly risking a serious loss of dignity!

‘“Well?” said I, at length.

‘The Toll-keeper glanced up at the moon with a speculative eye. Then, smiling in a peculiarly shrewd “pawky” fashion, he said, quite respectfully:

“Ah sŭd think, Sir, ‘at it ‘ud meb-be be t’leäst bother, efther all, for you ti̔ paäy t’ ’awp’n’y?”

‘And, Gentlemen, I paid!

.   .   .   .   .   .

‘We parted in friendly fashion and, as I think, with mutual esteem.

‘I especially liked the way in which, in conducting his case, he had entirely disregarded matters totally irrelevant to the issue!’

‘A Sketch in Dialect’

“On Lendal Bridge”

T’moor poult, July 1923

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Poppies and Salvia

Eye-popping colours! (they were – it just didn’t come out too well!)

Cramped as I am by the restricted movements my spasm-splinted spine will currently allow, one recollection of Hampton Court Flower Show has come into sharper focus than the rest as I rather awkwardly sit down to write. We (that is hubby and me) visited HCFS last Friday, when a cool morning blistered into a sizzling sunny day, and throughout our time there I was continually struck (not literally, I’m glad to say!) by the extraordinary people who, despite the heat and dust, manhandled wheelchairs around the exhibits battling the crowds and the conditions so that their disabled charges could get around the stands and displays. We even saw what appeared to be a hospital trolley complete with drips attached to a clearly very ill person lying prone and still and with his face covered against the sun. He was accompanied by several people, all quite jolly and enjoying the day. Quite humbling.

limestone pavement

This limestone pavement effect was quite interesting… (you had to be there)

Our day began with the carefree sense of embarking on a pleasant excursion. The train from Waterloo to Hampton Court gradually filled as the skyline emptied. By Earlsfield, the buildings we were speeding past were low enough to enable me to see for miles across rooftops and trees, while cheery parties of people – predominantly women in flowery dresses, tops and skirts – got on the train and chattered excitedly about the different brands of bubbly they’d bought for a picnic at the show, or how cool it had been in Nottingham as they’d waited for their early morning train to London. A lady and her husband, both of somewhat advanced years, sat opposite us and, as she told us excitedly that the visit to the show was a birthday treat, she hunched her shoulders and glanced at her husband with the smile of a delighted girl. The day was full of moments such as these – delightful little connections between strangers who briefly became friends.

On the whole I’m very not comfortable in crowds, but the atmosphere was so good-natured that, in spite of the jostling and obscured views, I was able to just get on with it, and shuffle to squint between shoulders and past hats with the best of them. However, at one point, when I turned back to see where my husband was, it was clear he hadn’t arrived at any such accommodation of the situation. Head back, chin poked forwards, he was doing a passable imitation of a cross-looking Easter Island head – complete with shades! It didn’t last though – succumbing to the tempting smell of roasting pork (mingled rather bizarrely with the coconut scent of suntan cream), we headed to the hog roast and had a spot of lunch. Sorted!


Gorgeous colours

So what were we all there for? Oh yes – flowers. And plants and all things pertaining to gardens and gardening. Fortified by food, we set off to cruise the plant stalls (the gardens could wait!), our trusty trolley-box at the ready. Surely the sound of RHS flower shows is the rumble of the ubiquitous folding wheeled box with extendable handle, being trundled along ridged metal walkways, brimming with plants! True to form, we bought loads more plants than we should have, including a gorgeous rich crimson Achillea studded with gold dots like an Elizabethan courtier’s doublet, and (well, I had to!) a carnation with a striking scent of cloves. 😉 We bought this from a very helpful collector of carnations in the Plant Heritage Marquee, who told us the Bookham Clove was no longer available. Our carnation is a very respectable stand-in called the Duchess of Roxburghe, don’t y’know. And she smells lovely!

crimson Achillea

Part of our haul – a luscious crimson Achillea

Duchess of Roxburghe carnation

Allow me to introduce the Duchess of Roxburghe – rather divinely, she smells of cloves – an unexpected delight!

Partway through the day the weather was such that I had to deploy my brolly and scarf. The sun was so scorching I needed more shade than my hat provided and, not entirely trusting the Factor 50 suncream, I also covered up with a silk scarf. Stalls selling parasols were cleaning up, and ice-cream vendors were doing a roaring trade. It was hot!

When it came to the gardens, I was struck by how different they were from the representation on the TV coverage of the Show – inevitable, I guess. Sadly, reality can come off a poor second. For instance, one garden was designed to invoke a child’s eye view of being on a forest floor, but because the gardens are all roped off, none of the adult viewers were able to experience this – although I did see a child rather self-consciously picking her way into the centre of the garden to see for herself (yes – she was allowed, in fact, I think she was chivvied into it!).

Whites, blues and mauves seemed to dominate much of the planting in the gardens – with the odd radical diversion into bright oranges and reds.

In a darkly gothic garden called ‘Ashes to Ashes’ a mound of charcoal and black grass sprouted gravestones and blood red blooms, and was topped by charred and twisted tree trunks. I heard a rather irritable-sounding lady loudly exclaim:

So, isn’t there anything to explain to us what all this is about?

just as I twigged that it concerned Ash dieback.

Ash dieback

The green shoots of recovery? (Have we heard that before…?)

Ash dieback

Gothic wins over green, I think…

The gravestones were inscribed ‘RIP Chalara Fraxinea’ which – now I’ve looked it up – strikes me as odd, as the ‘chalara’ part refers to the fungus which is causing the dieback of the ‘fraxinus’ (ash tree). Not only that, but Chalara Fraxinea is the name of only one stage of the disease… Oh well. A sort of lava flow led off the mound into a thin trickle of sprouting shoots which widened as it curled round towards another mound, this time green with grass and tender but flourishing ash trees. Anyway – isn’t ‘fraxinus’ a great word?! (‘Spear’, apparently).

Blue garden

I loved the misty blues and earth tones against the huge smooth discs of the steps. Sadly, the stars of this piece – the tiny silver-blue dragonflies – darting about above the plants aren’t really visible. A magical memory, though

blue garden

As always, pencil-thin Cyprus trees create great punctuation – the seating area was a bit ‘by the way’ really – especially the screen (not really visible rom this angle!)

Velvety grey-blues and misty silvers blended beautifully in my favourite garden. I wasn’t particularly taken by the winch-operated screen of rusted iron rods which could be opened to reveal the vista beyond a seated area at the top of the plot, but I liked the stairway which led up to it. This was made of massive wooden discs turned from joined railway sleepers. I particularly liked the soft hazy effect of the faded sea-washed mauves, blues and greys of the plants burgeoning either side of the sleeper steps. But most magical and memorable of all was the effect of several small fleeting dragonflies darting about this garden like tiny silver-blue needles stitching and weaving an invisible web. They were breathtaking.

Occasionally, we’d see some very exotic butterflies fluttering by, or alighting on a prize cabbage, and we decided they must have escaped from the butterfly dome, set up by the RHS and the Eden Project. I’d love to have gone in to see all of the different types of butterflies flitting about freely inside the dome, but the queue! No way were we going to stand for hours in the sweltering heat. Instead, we gawped in at them from a clear panel in the dome – still amazing.

cyclamen corm

A thing of beauty – in the making. This large primeval-looking lump, once planted, will give forth the loveliness which is a cyclamen …

Pink blooms - Angel's fishing rod - flowering grass

Part of our haul – a delicate arc of pink blooms… on a grass! It’s called Angel’s Fishing Rod, which conjures up a lovely image – garden gnome with wings and a halo, maybe?! I wonder if it would’ve appealed to grandfather…

By late afternoon, we had a respectable haul of plants in our trolley-box and heads full of ideas we’re unlikely to implement, and were ready to head home. Rather than take the boat to the station which is a lovely little trip, we trundled past the Palace and over the Lutyens-designed bridge to Hampton Court station. We got a very clear idea of how dreadful the proposed development on the site of the ‘Jolly Boatman’ would look. In fact, I was quite surprised that there was no evidence of the campaign in evidence.Amazed to find seats available on the train we sat, comfortably exhausted, to enjoy the return journey. The train guard welcomed us all on the intercom and listed the stations we’d be stopping at on the half-hour journey back to Waterloo, cheerily reminding us not to leave ‘that expensive rhododenron’ behind. After a few minutes, the pleasantly dozy atmosphere of the train was interrupted by the silky tone of a woman’s voice announcing the availability of a buffet service, and asking us to clear the gangway. We were all beginning to exchange puzzled (and, in my case at least, slightly hopeful) looks through our various fronds of foliage when the guard interrupted her and apologised for pressing the wrong message button. Warming to his theme, said:

I mean, it could have been ‘Mind the gap’ or ‘Next stop Gatport Airwick’… Oh, you know what I mean!

and cut off mid-chuckle. He appeared in our carriage a few minutes later as we stopped at the first station, an affable, portly chap answering questions patiently and seeing people on and off the train.

When we got off at Waterloo, I was delighted to see him on the platform. He shook my hand and gave me a beaming smile – which more than made up for the fact he wasn’t wearing a cap with a carnation in it!

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