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By Frances Casey, Project Manager

We are often asked whether it is possible for someone to be named on more than one war memorial. The answer is yes. For my last blog, I want to give the example of Lt Lionel Pilkington Abbott, who was killed during the battle of the Somme on 14th July 1916.

Lt Lionel Pilkington Abbott, Leicestershire Regiment, 1915 (Courtesy of Hugh Parker)

Lt Lionel Pilkington Abbott, Leicestershire Regiment, 1915 (Courtesy of Hugh Parker)

Unlike memorials erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the majority of memorials in UK towns and villages were erected by local communities, with the funding, construction, design and names collection overseen by a locally appointed committee.

We have found Lt Lionel Pilkington Abbott commemorated on seven different memorials. These include the memorial cross on the village green in Corby Glen, Lincolnshire, which is the village in which he grew up. The Corby Glen memorial was funded by public subscription and commemorates the men of the village with the names arranged by Regiment. Lionel is listed under the Leicestershire Regiment. The cross was unveiled on 13th December 1920 by the Reverend A. Abbott, who was Lionel’s father.

Rev Abbott was vicar of the nearby St John the Evangelist Church. Inside the church can be found a memorial erected to Lionel by his parents. This takes the form of a plaque and the dedication details include Lionel’s rank, regiment, age, place and date of death. Unlike the Corby Glen village memorial, the plaque is a personal dedication to Lionel designed and funded by his family.

Lionel (second right), Exeter College rowing team, 1906 (Courtesy of Hugh Parker)

Lionel (second right), Exeter College rowing team, 1906 (Courtesy of Hugh Parker)

The plaque refers to Lionel’s education and degree at Exeter College, Oxford, which is where we find another memorial commemorating Lionel. The Exeter College memorial is to old scholars killed in the First World War and the names are arranged by the date of matriculation. Lionel is commemorated under the year 1907 along with nine other students of his year.

Lionel is also commemorated in the Leicestershire Regiment Book of Remembrance in Leicester Cathedral , the Matthew Humberston Foundation School memorial and the memorial in King’s School, Canterbury .

Each memorial remembers Lionel in a different way and for a different reason, whether as a resident of the village, a son, a scholar or as serving in a regiment. It is for this reason that the same person can be commemorated on more than one memorial, because memorials commemorate many different social groups. You will find all ranks commemorated on memorials in schools, businesses, towns and villages not only officers or the more wealthy. First World War memorials remember people in all of their variety and as such are testaments to the loss felt in many areas of social life.

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This is an article by Derbyshire Fieldworker Roy Branson

Mention Derbyshire stately homes and most people will instantly think of Chatsworth, but there are many other historic buildings in the county.  One such is Kedleston Hall just outside Derby, home of the Curzon family and now in the care of the National Trust.  When the current house was built Lord Curzon did as many other landowners of the time – he removed the rest of the village to cottages out of his sight.  But one building that he did not move was the parish church which still stands next to the grand house.  Although the church was used by the Curzons, almost as a private family chapel, the church at the adjacent village of Mugginton became the venue for the rest of the village.  Today there is no longer a viable congregation at Kedleston and the church, All Saints’, is now in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust.  

Tablet to Capt the Hon William Curzon (©Roy Branson)

My principal voluntary work for UKNIWM is the survey of war memorials throughout Derbyshire and I recently visited Kedleston Hall and All Saints’ Church with Frances Casey, UKNIWM Project Manager, where we recorded several memorials new to the Inventory.  One of the memorials in the church is to 23 year old William Curzon who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.  It comprises a white marble tablet with a black border painted onto the surrounding wall and an incised inscription which the guidebook describes as a ‘touching epitaph’.  Here, the inscription is reproduced verbatim: 

Sacred to the memory of WILLIAM CURZON,

4th. Son of Lord Scarsdale, late Capt. in the 69th. Ft. & D.A.A.G.

A Youth of fairest promise!

Whose professional merit, amiable qualities, & private worth,

Had distinguish’d Him as a Soldier, endear’d Him to his Family, Friends, & Comrades.

He enter’d the Army at the age of 16,

Appointed to an Ensigney in the 9th. from the R. M. College,

And having honorably served throughout the War in the Peninsular,

And already bled in the cause of Nations,

Fell alas! fighting with devoted gallantry,

On that day of triumph & tears, which seal’d their Deliverance;

Being slain in the Battle of Waterloo June 18th. 1815, in his 24th. year.

His Country will record His Name in the list of the Brave.

To preserve It on the Spot where its Remembrance will be most precious,

This tablet is raised by his affectionate Parents,

Who deploring His loss, with their surviving Children,

Bow to the Divine Will & repose in the blessed belief,

That He has exchang’d His Laurels, for a Crown of Glory,

The Meed of His Virtues.

The seventh line from the bottom is of particular interest: “His Country will record His Name in the list of the Brave”. By recording his memorial in the Inventory I think I have fulfilled his parents’ wishes after 196 years. This is why I record war memorials.

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

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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

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article by UKNIWM Project Officer, Frances Casey

The anniversary of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July has made me think recently of that equally disastrous attack, intended as a diversion and strategic support to the main Somme offensive, which took place at Fromelles on 19th July 1916. In the news, following the discovery of a burial pit containing the bodies of approximately 400 Australian and British soldiers in 2006, the Attack at Fromelles was the first engagement on the western front for the newly arrived Australian Imperial Force, and for many it was also to be their last. The attack is characterised by a catalogue of errors and poor judgement, for the plan of attack assumed that an assault in force in broad daylight would take the enemy by surprise, without allowing for the possibility of the advance being held up. In the event, the Australian 8th and 14th Brigades were caught above ground as, horrifyingly, they encountered trenches flooded with rainwater on their advance. They were trapped, unable to retreat or to move in either direction due to quick encirclement by German machine gun posts. Elsewhere, poor communication caused a futile and doomed one-pronged advance by the Australian 58th Battalion who were unaware that the British had cancelled their side of the assault.

The nature of the attack, which completely failed in its objective to divert the Germans from the Somme front and capture the German-held salient at Fromelles, explains the gravity of the Australian losses at over 5,000 men. These losses, made over just one day and night, led to the establishment of the only cemetery in France dedicated solely to Australian soldiers of the First World War.

V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles

V.C. Corner Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles

Unlike the usual format of Commonwealth War Graves cemeteries, the V.C Corner Australian Cemetery near Fromelles does not have headstones. In the battlefield searches carried out by the Imperial (later Commonwealth) War Graves Commission in the 1920s, over 400 bodies were found at Fromelles, but none could be identified and as a result, they lie buried in unmarked plots.  Each man killed in the attack at Fromelles is instead commemorated on an imposing memorial, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, in the V.C Corner Australian Cemetery.  

According to the charter of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, every individual casualty is entitled to be commemorated by name, either on a headstone or, if their body was not found or identified, on a memorial to the missing/ unidentified. The CWGC does not commemorate individuals in more than one place. So, it does seem likely that, with the planned identification of individuals from the Fromelles mass grave using DNA, the names will slowly be removed from the Memorial and transferred to headstones in the new cemetery, planned outside the town of Fromelles for 2010. Certainly, a precedent for this exists with the Menin Gate.  What will be interesting to see, is whether the wish to identify individuals in the newly discovered mass grave will inevitably lead to a desire to identify the nameless interments in the V.C Corner Australian Cemetery.

Thinking about the unidentified and missing men of the attack, I wondered whether there might be memorials in the UK or Australia commemorating individuals killed at Fromelles in 1916. A search of the UKNIWM Channel4 names database brought up seven memorials which referred specifically to Fromelles. Six of these were to the battle of the same name, which had taken place just over a year previously on 9th May 1915. One memorial, a Roll of Honour in Peterborough District Hospital, commemorates Sgt Sidney Green, of the 59th Bn Australian Imperial Force, ‘Reported Killed in Action 19th July 1916 at Fromelles’.  Sidney Green was 26 when he died, and in the 1920s the IWGC received a returned casualty form from his family. This told them that he was the son of Patience and the late James Green and the husband of Irene Elizabeth. Described as ‘Native of Staines, Middlesex’ he was recorded as living at 7 Manningham Street, West Parkville, Victoria, Australia. Peterborough is not mentioned, although the Roll of Honour also has an address for him at Fletton Avenue, Peterborough.

Sgt Sidney Frank William Harold Green, from The Bond of Sacrifice

Sgt Sidney Frank William Harold Green, from The Bond of Sacrifice

I did not find Sidney Green named on Staines War Memorial, and it may be that when this memorial was erected, there was no longer anyone living in the town who knew him. What was more surprising was that he is not on the Parkville War Memorial on Royal Parade in Melbourne. This memorial, a statue of an Australian First World War soldier, has 30 names on it and stands just across the park from where Sidney Green lived. There are numerous potential explanations for why his name is missing: by the time the Parkville memorial was commissioned and then unveiled in 1929, Irene Green may have moved away, or since her husband was technically missing she may not have wished to submit his name; there may have been some accidental, social or personal motivation. That he is on the Peterborough memorial shows that his life was not a straightforward case of born and died and represented in these areas: that his life touched that of others in the different places that he lived and was known.  An unexpected discovery was a photograph of Sgt Sidney Frank William Harold Green, 59th Bn, Australian Imperial Force in the First World War Bond of Sacrifice, a published photographic biographical roll of honour. This photo and entry would have been another means of commemorating the life of Sidney Green.  

In looking into the memorials to one individual lost in the horror of Fromelles in 1916, I realised that although these men have been missing for over 90 years, there are traces of their complex life paths in the memorials, traces that have been made manifest by those who knew them. I was also left with the question of whether, when a name is missing from a memorial, is this not just as vocal an indication of the movements, hopes or errors of those they left behind?

Not all war memorials feature the names of those who served or died but, if they do, the very least information displayed will be the surname of the person being remembered.  Invariably this is accompanied by their first name or initial. 

Some memorials include further information such as rank, date and place of death, place of birth, age or manner of death.  In some areas – most notably Wales – so many men had the same first name and surname that the first line of their home address is sometimes included to distinguish between them.

Yesterday, in our archive, I discovered a memorial that only has the first name.  I’ve never seen this before.  It’s a small inscribed stone in the garden of a Working Men’s Club in Partington, Manchester.  Click here to see record

The inscription simply reads

TAFFY
PALESTINE 1947
REMEMBERED

Who was Taffy?

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After we posted this entry, a reader got in touch with the following comment.

“I would suggest that the name ‘Taffy’ could refer to an animal adopted as a mascot. There could have been a Working Mens’ Club member who brought the animal (dog or cat) back to Manchester with them. Otherwise, a search of regimental mascots of the Army/Navy/Air Force of the time engaged in Palestine could prove useful. (I believe that the Welch Regiment’s goat is traditionally called ‘Taffy’.)”