Author Archives: ukniwm3

The Hindon memorial was erected to commemorate those that lost their lives in First World War and it stood in pride of place in the centre of the High Street.

The pillar memorial included a basin below the dedicatory inscription, which looks like it would have been used for flowers, and was surmounted by a lantern. These features are now missing and the memorial has been relocated stand beside the Parish Church. These losses to the memorial and its relocation are related to a single incident.

In 1943, an American tank was passing through the town, and as it navigated the main high street it failed to accomodate the war memorial which it knocked into, causing the pillar to topple and the lantern to break. It appears that following the incident the memorial was moved to a safer location, however the lantern top was not replaced. It was after this time that the inscription referring to the Second World War was added. The whole face was re-inscribed in order to enter the new dates, which is perhaps why, had the basin survived the encounter with the tank, there is no evidence of it ever having been there: it would have been removed to allow for the extended inscription.

The inscription finishes with the quote:

“Endured hardness. Faced danger. And finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self sacrifice. Giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom”

The memorial at Ramsey on the Isle of Man is quite a feat of craftsmanship.  The intricate celtic design, carved out of red sandstone, stands to commemorate 108 islanders who fell in the First World War and 49 from the Second World War. Despite the dedication, this elaborate cross had not always been intended as a war memorial.

When Parson William Kermode died in 1890 his son Philip designed the cross as a memorial to him, to be erected at Kirk Maughold near Ramsey. Mr T. H. Royston was engaged to carry out the carving. It is uncertain when Mr Royston started the project, although it would most likely have been within the 1890s, yet it was still unfinished in 1914, some 24 years after Parson Kermode’s death. When, in 1919, the people of Ramsey decided to erect a war memorial an arrangement was made to take over the Kermode cross, which was still a work in progress, for that purpose.

Source: Isle of Man, Natural History and Antiquarian Society

By Project Assistant, Annette Gaykema.

We have had two emails recently from an employee at the Tower of London, informing us that two memorials we had listed as missing were in fact located in the Tower of London. The 38th Jewish Battalion, Royal Fusiliers memorial was believed to have been lost when the Great Synagogue, where it was originally housed, was destroyed with a direct hit in the Second World War.  

Similarly, the Royal Fusiliers Roll of Honour was believed to have been destroyed when the Guild Hall was bombed in the Second World War.

Both of these memorials have now been found at the Tower of London, but what remains a mystery is whether they were salvaged from bomb wreckage and eventually given to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers Museum which opened at the Tower of London in 1962, or whether they were moved to the Tower for safe keeping prior to the London Blitz.

By Project Assistant, Annette Gaykema

Updating one particular memorial recently sparked my interest in the individual commemorated: Lieutenant-Colonel Reverend Bernard William Vann VC MC.  A remarkable and inspiring person, he was the first priest to win the VC as the commanding officer of an infantry battalion.

Lt. Col. Vann. (Photo courtesy of Project Gutenberg archives).

 Further research showed that Lt. Col. Vann is commemorated in three separate churches: St Matthew’s Church in Coates, Gloucestershire, St Mary Magdalene Church in Newark and St Barnabas Church, Leicester. The latter was where he was appointed Assistant Junior Curate in 1910. He also appears on the memorial to “the masters and boys” in Wellingborough School Chapel.

The memorial at St Matthew’s Church gives a detailed biography of Lt. Col. Vann and explains why he is commemorated there:


Bernard Vann, whose death in the first World War is commemorated on the Roll of Honour in this church, spent much of his childhood in the Coates rectory, where his mother was housekeeper to the Rec. T. C. Simpson, his uncle.

On the outbreak of war as chaplain and assistant master at Wellingborough School he volunteered as Army chaplain but, frustrated by difficulties and delays, joined the Sherwood Foresters instead. He served with them continously on the Western Front for four years, where he was wounded 13 times, awarded two Military Crosses, the Croix de Guerre, and promoted Lieutenant – Colonel.

On 29th September, 1918, his “conspicuous bravery”, leading his Battalion during the attack at Bellenglise and Lehaucourt led to the award of the Victoria Cross. He was killed four days later, within a few weeks of the end of the war, leaving a widow who gave birth to his son in June, the following year.

Whilst the memorial records that Vann was wounded 13 times his obituary in The Times (19 Dec, 1918. pg. 12) reports that he was wounded “seven or eight times”.  Another article states that “no less than 11 times was he returned a casualty” (The Times 20 Dec, 1918. pg. 6). In one instance, he was buried and badly bruised by the effects of a trench-mortar in May, 1915. He managed to dig himself out and set to work organising a defence whilst helping to dig out others. In another instance he was severely wounded but carried on firing incessantly at the enemy for several hours before being ordered to come away by the Brigadier.

In September 1916, Vann was suffering from continuous agony as a result of neuritis (inflammation of the nerves) but still insisted on leading his company on a raid. He was in so much pain that he had to be taken away the next day and was transported back to England to recover. He remained there for several months.

Lt. Col. Vann’s wife, who is mentioned on the St Matthew’s Church memorial, was Doris Victoria Beck. She was a Canadian nursing aide whom Bernard met when she was studying in Paris. They were married in St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge. At the end of August 1918, Bernard and Doris enjoyed ten days of leave in Paris. It was possibly the last time that they met as Bernard was killed on 3rd October, 1918 by a sniper. As mentioned in the memorial, his son was born the following year.

Online references:

Rushden Research
Bygone Derbyshire 

By office volunteer, Annette Gaykema.

Another remote memorial is that of the Elliot brothers, William and Alistair, which is located by the shores of Loch Glencoul in Sutherland, Northern Scotland. Since the nearest public road is approximately 8 miles away, this memorial is only accessible by foot or by boat.

Photo courtesy of Mick Garratt

The Elliot brothers memorial

The story behind it is an interesting one. The memorial itself is on a hill overlooking an isolated house. This two-storey stone house was built around 1880, by the Duke of Westminster for his estate keepers. The Elliot family were working on the estate and living at Glencoul House when the brothers enlisted for the First World War.

Photo courtesy of the Elliot family

Glencoul House with the cross just visible on the hill to the left

Read More

By office volunteer, Annette Gaykema.

Further to Frances Casey’s blog post of July 2009, records held at the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia can shed further light on Sidney Frank William Harold Green.

Like all First World War Australian service records, his file has been digitised by the National Archives. In this file there is no notification of a promotion to the rank of Sergeant, so it appears that his last rank was Corporal, as is consistent with information from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. This differs to the rank he is given in the Peterborough Book of Remembrance, and it suggests that an error may have been made when the Book was compiled. 

Front page of Cpl. Green's service record

Front page of Cpl. Green's service record

Read More