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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.

By Frances Casey, Project Manager

This summer, be sure to look out for Royal Mail’s First World War Centenary stamp edition. Every year, from 2014 to 2018, six stamps will be issued to commemorate the First World War, creating a set of 30 stamps by the end of the Centenary.

In 2014, we worked closely with Royal Mail to select a war memorial commemorative stamp which would mark the events of 100 years ago. The memorial chosen is ‘The Response, 1914’, by Sir William Goscombe John, which is in Newcastle upon Tyne.

The Great War 1914-1918 Special Stamps, Royal Mail

The Great War 1914-1918 Special Stamps, Royal Mail

This memorial shows local men cheerfully taking leave of their families as they respond to the call to war in 1914. It was erected in 1923 by Sir George and Lady Renwick to commemorate the raising of the volunteer battalions of the Northumberland Fusiliers at the beginning of the war. Unveiled by the Prince of Wales, the figures on the memorial show the initial jubilant and confident response to the outbreak of the war. Unusually, the purpose of the memorial is threefold: as well as commemorating the local volunteers of 1914, the memorial is also a thanksgiving from the Renwicks for the safe return from the war of their five sons and marks Sir George’s 50 years of commercial life in Newcastle.

Other 2014 stamps that IWM and Royal Mail selected include a quotation from Laurence Binyon’s, ‘For the Fallen’, a poem that he composed in 1914, and a detail from the painting ‘A Star Shell’ by C. R. W. Nevinson, which is in the collection of Tate Britain. Look out for this first set which will be available from 18th of July.

By Frances Casey, Project Manager

 Among five memorial plaques to former pupils killed in the First World War in Sedbergh School Chapel, Cumbria, is one to Wilfred Spencer Ellis MC who died 26th March 1922 after a long illness resulting from the war 1914-1918, aged 34, being three times wounded whilst serving in France and Macedonia’ 

French and British wounded having their wounds dressed at No.29 Casualty Clearing Station, Gezaincourt, 27 April 1918. (IWM  © IWM (Q 8735)

French and British wounded having their wounds dressed at No.29 Casualty Clearing Station, Gezaincourt, 27 April 1918. (IWM © IWM (Q 8735)

We have found that commemorations of those who died of the effects of war after the Armistice of 1918 are not unusual, and that those who never fully recovered from their war service are frequently commemorated alongside those who died fighting during the war.

On the memorial to Belle Vue Zoological Gardens’ staff in Gorton, Manchester, the inscription distinguishes between those ‘killed in active service’ and those who ‘died from effects of war’. Six members of staff are recorded as dying as a result of the effects of their war service, including Private Bernard A Hastain of the Rifle Brigade, a scene painter of patriotic firework spectacles at Belle Vue, who died of the effects of his wounds in the 1930s.

There is no strict rule which dictates that only those who died during wartime are commemorated on war memorials and there is no cut-off date. The names on the Balmaclellan memorial in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, are listed by year of death. The last First World War name on the memorial is that of Private W. Campbell of the Cameron Highlanders, whose date of death is recorded as 27 April 1925. The names on this memorial cover a ten year period of casualties from 1915 to 1925.

Balmaclellan war memorial with dates of death (IWM WMA 5865, ©Paul Goodwin)

Balmaclellan war memorial with dates of death (IWM WMA 5865, ©Paul Goodwin)

Memorials also show us that it was not only serious wounds that shortened the lives of the survivors of the First World War. In St Margarets, East Hertfordshire, a plaque in the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary commemorates Philip Reginald Croft who ‘died February 25th 1923 in Jamaica of heart disease contracted while serving overseas with the 4th East Anglian Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, during the Great War’. Nurses too, found that their war service profoundly weakened their health. The memorial to Sister Grace Evans in Eglwys St Tysilio, Cwmtydu, Wales, records that she ‘died at Johannesburg November 16th 1930, as a result of war services in East Africa during the Great War, 1914-1918’ .

Significantly, it was often veterans of the war, many of whom had sustained grievous injuries, who were invited to unveil war memorials. In 1921 at Stalybridge in Greater Manchester, Pte Joseph Lowden, who was blinded in the war, laid the first wreath on the memorial at the unveiling ceremony. Over 40 years later in 1963, an inquest at Stalybridge was told that his death at the age of 78 was ‘partly attributed to war injuries’ as he had ‘little bits of shrapnel scattered about his lungs’, a legacy of his war service 47 years earlier (Stalybridge Reporter, 4 March 1963).

 

By Irene Glausiusz, Office Volunteer

What is interesting about the tiny village of Hewas Water, more of a hamlet really, positioned three miles west of St Austell in Cornwall?

Firstly, there was the Victory Hall, known locally as The Institute, built by voluntary labour in 1920 it was intended as a memorial to commemorate the end of the First World War. The land was donated by local gentry, the Johnstone Family from the Trewithen Estate at nearby Grampound. Now that we are approaching the one-hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, it seems appropriate that the Victory Hall is not forgotten and is rightfully included in IWM’s War Memorials Archive.

Looking back, the Institute was a popular venue for darts, billiards, table tennis, and whist drives to keep people entertained. There wasn’t that much to do in Hewas Water with no pub, just one shop and a bakery for bread, saffron cake and Cornish pasties. Oh yes, the bakery had a telephone – for emergencies! Few people had a phone, so the need to make a call was hardly a priority. Even the Paramor Chapel for worship and Sunday School was a couple of miles away.

Victory Hall, Hewas Water (IWM WMA 62836 ©Derek Ryder 2013)

Victory Hall, Hewas Water (IWM WMA 62836 ©Derek Ryder 2013)

Secondly, and hence my interest in Hewas Water, my sister and I aged 9 and 3 respectively along with dozens of other kids from Hackney in east London were evacuated there in 1940 – a place of safety to escape the bombing. We knew nothing of rural life but we soon adjusted to the situation, making visits to the village pump which supplied water for drinking and cooking. What no running water? Don’t ask. 

We walked some distance every day, back and forth come rain or shine, to Lower Sticker Board School. With only three classes, children just slotted into their approximate age group. We remember being taken to the Victory Hall for special social events and concerts, where best dresses were de rigeur.

Halls or Institutes were popular as war memorials after the First World War as they offered people a place to engage and build a sense of community. To date we have recorded 692 war memorial halls or institutes. In the case of the Victory Hall, it became less frequented with the advent of television and more accessible transport during the 1960’s and subsequently it has been converted for commercial use. The school and chapel closed and are now private residences. Happily, the Johnstone’s family estate – they who donated the land for the Victory Hall – continues at Trewithen.

Due to people’s changing needs and environment, it is important for us to record memorials which are subject to change like halls or hospitals to ensure that their identity and the intention behind them is not lost to people today.

Footnote: The historical context of the Victory Hall became known to me when my daughter Josie, a New York based journalist, decided to research my early evacuation days.

by Roger Smither, IWM Research Associate

On holiday in Germany in September 2012, I noticed the St Georgsbrunnen, a striking war memorial fountain in the city of Speyer: water flows into a stone basin from a large metal bowl surmounted by an obelisk topped by a statue of St George slaying the dragon. Although St George is strongly identified as England’s patron saint, he is also one of Germany’s; he is also associated with soldiers and chivalry, so the use of his image on a German memorial should not be considered particularly surprising.

Speyer First World War memorial, Germany (©Roger Smither).

Speyer First World War memorial, Germany (©Roger Smither).

It was not just the memorial that caught my attention, however, but also the fact that the authorities had put up a plaque nearby offering a kind of apologia for it. Translated, this says: ‘The fountain was erected in 1930 as a memorial to the fallen of the First World War. The inscriptions and reliefs are an expression of the spirit of that time.’ It then notes that ‘The city of Speyer’s memorial for the victims of war and violence has, since 1985, been located in the northern Cathedral Garden.’

This struck me as sufficiently unusual to invite a closer look. Do the inscriptions and reliefs on the fountain obviously invite controversy or demand an apology?

There are four inscriptions on the stone basin of the fountain, three of which were originally illustrated by accompanying relief sculptures.

The main inscription readsUNSEREN GEFALLENEN ZUM GEDACHTNIS UND UNS SELBST ALS STETE MAHNUNG 1914+1918’, which may be translated as ‘In Memory of our fallen and as a reminder to ourselves’ – a common sentiment for a war memorial, and scarcely contentious.

The other three inscriptions are all quotations from songs or poems.

St George and the dragon, Speyer First World War memorial, Germany (©Roger Smither).

St George and the dragon, Speyer First World War memorial, Germany (©Roger Smither).

One offers the first two lines of Der gute Kamerad (The Good Comrade), a poem written by Ludwig Uhland in 1809 – ‘ICH HATT EINEN KAMERADEN, EINEN BESSERN FINDST DU NIT’ (I had a comrade, you won’t find a better one). Set to music by Friedrich Silcher In 1825, the poem long pre-dates the ideologies of the 1930s, and remains the traditional mourning song of the German Army. The accompanying relief illustrates the line – one soldier falls wounded in a marching group.

The second reads ‘DEUTSCHE FRAUEN, DEUTSCHE TREUE’ (German women, German loyalty), and is taken from the second verse of the Deutschlandlied – ‘Deutschland, Deutschland über alles’ – written by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben in 1841. This verse is little known these days, but it is ignored more because of its male chauvinist tendencies than because of its nationalism: it equates women with wine as inspirational pleasures of traditional Germany. This time, the accompanying relief shows two women digging in a field, to symbolise the home front war effort.

The third inscription reads ‘DEUTSCHLAND MUSS LEBEN AUCH WENN WIR STERBEN MÜSSEN’ (Germany must live, even if we must perish), which is the closing line of each verse of a 1914 poem, Soldatenabschied (Soldier’s Farewell) by Heinrich Lersch. This does sound quite nationalistic, but English readers will recall Rudyard Kipling’s very similar line ‘Who dies if England live?‘ which comes at the end of verse 4 of his poem For All We Have and Are, also written in 1914. On the fountain in this case the accompanying relief is missing, but it is possible to find reproductions of old postcards on the web, where it appears that the sculptor had depicted two soldiers in a trench.

Modern inscription near the Speyer First World War memorial, Germany (©Roger Smither).

Modern inscription near the Speyer First World War memorial, Germany (©Roger Smither).

None of this seems hugely controversial. A search of the IWM’s War Memorials Archive database finds over 60 memorials in the United Kingdom with ‘Who dies if England live?’ as part of their inscription, and it is hard to imagine that the relevant local authority has thought it necessary to add an explanation or apology in any of those cases. As an example of even more overt nationalism on a British memorial, Frances Casey, Project Manager of the Archive, has drawn my attention to the one at Brierley Hill, which includes – without any hint of apology – the following text:

THIS MONUMENT / WAS ERECTED BY THEIR FELLOW / TOWN FOLK TO THE MEMORY OF / BRIERLEY HILL MEN / WHO LOYALLY GAVE THEIR LIVES / IN DEFENCE OF / COUNTRY AND CIVILISATION / AGAINST AGGRESSIVE / AMBITIONS OF / GERMANY / AUSTRIA & TURKEY / IN THE GREAT WAR

Brierley Hill First World War memorial (IWM WMA 17472,  ©G A Cox)

Brierley Hill First World War memorial (IWM WMA 17472, ©G A Cox)

With the help of Christa Rinner, a researcher based in Karlsruhe, I have learned that the memorial fountain in Speyer is the work of the architect Karl Latteyer of Ludwigshafen and a British-born sculptor named William Ohly, who both attended its official inauguration on 29 June 1930, and that – although there does not seem to have been any specific event in Speyer to prompt it – the explanatory plaque was added in 1996, when the need to replace some of the piping led to a full-scale restoration of the fountain.

There may not have been such an episode in Speyer but it remains true, of course, that war memorials can be controversial, and they have undoubtedly been the focus of protest elsewhere. Demonstrators in the former Eastern Bloc have often targeted Soviet war memorials with either hostility or derision, including an episode in Bulgaria in 2011 when a street artist painted the figures on the Soviet memorial in Sofia to represent American comic-book characters.

The Coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003 prompted a French protestor to spray-paint ‘Rosbeefs Go Home’ and other slogans on the cross of a CWGC cemetery at Etaples, and there was outrage in India in 2012 when protestors in Mumbai were photographed attacking the Amar Jawan Jyoti memorial which commemorates two Sepoys executed during the 1857 uprising.

More recently, the Animals in War and Bomber Command memorials in London were subjected to graffiti following the murder outside Woolwich Barracks of Drummer Rigby, 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. I wonder, do war memorials present political statements in themselves? Why are they used as sites of protest? How often do civic authorities try to defuse objections before they are raised? It strikes me that the politics of war memorials could be an interesting topic for further research.


 
 
 
 

By Frances Casey, Project Manager

Last Saturday, the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show came to an end. It was a week during which exhibitors celebrated the centenary of the event, which was first held at the Royal Hospital grounds in Ranelagh Gardens in 1913. The 2013 show was in fact the 92nd Chelsea Flower Show, rather than the 100th, as the event was cancelled during the First World War in 1917 and 1918, and also for the duration of the Second World War.

Poster for the RHS War Relief Fund, 1916 (©IWM ART PST 10965)

Poster for the RHS War Relief Fund, 1916 (©IWM ART PST 10965)

In RHS Chelsea Flower Show: A Centenary Celebration, the illustrated book published to commemorate the history of the show, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) historian Brent Elliott lists some of the names of the horticultural firms that exhibited in the first show of 1913. These include Notcutt Nursery, founded in 1897 in Suffolk, and particularly famed for its trees and shrubs.

The 1914 Chelsea Flower Show was held three months before the outbreak of the First World War. Notcutt Nursery was busy that year, and in April had exhibited at the RHS fortnightly meeting in Westminster, at which ‘a much admired shrubby plant certificated was Mr Notcutt’s Prunus Blirisana (The Times, 8th April 1914, pg 11).

 In 1915 however, the presence of the war was felt at Chelsea, and the Royal Horticultural Society used the show to seek funds for the newly founded RHS War Relief Fund. This fund had the specific purpose of raising money to buy seeds, plants, trees and equipment to replant the already devastated gardens and countryside of France, Belgium, Romania and Serbia. Funds and supplies were to be distributed as and when the war ended.

In 1916, at the last Chelsea Flower Show to be held during the war, changes to Show included the absence of the great tent, ‘for the reason that the active young men who erected it and climbed the big poles are now in the Navy’ (The Times, 23rd May 1916, pg 11). The loss of men from the estate gardens and nurseries to war service contributed to the cancellation of the Show in 1917 and then again in 1918.

It is possible that some of the gardeners, growers and staff of Notcutt Nursery who attended the first Chelsea Flower Shows in 1913 and 1914 and the RHS show at Westminster in the Spring of 1914 are among those commemorated by the Notcutt Nursery war memorial, which is a sundial in a garden of remembrance at the present day nursery. This memorial records the loss of six members of staff during the First World War and two during the Second World War.

Rochford Nurseries (IWM WMA 63530 ©Liam Gillespie, 2012)

Rochford Nurseries (IWM WMA 63530 ©Liam Gillespie, 2012)

The memorial to the Hertfordshire floral nursery of Thomas Rochford in Turnford lists the names of thirty members of the Turnford Institute and Rochford Nurseries staff who were ‘killed or died of wounds or sickness’ during the war. The nursery had competed in the Roses category at the Chelsea Flower Show of 1916. Goldsworth Nursery, founded in 1790 in Woking, exhibited regularly at the Rhododendron Association shows at RHS Westminster. The nursery lost eighteen men.

Country estates also suffered from the loss of their garden staff. The memorial at Backwell Hill House, near Bristol, commemorates three casualties. Christopher George Ball, ‘second gardener on this place’ and William Henry Lock, ‘garden boy on this place’ are named alongside William Patrick Garnett, the son of the owner of Backwell Hill House.

The Thunderbox, Heligan Gardens (IWM WMA 63622 ©Heligan Gardens Ltd)

The Thunderbox, Heligan Gardens (IWM WMA 63622 ©Heligan Gardens Ltd)

In Cornwall, the gardens of Heligan House are maintained today as a memorial to the gardeners of the estate who went to war. Visitors to the garden can still come across The Thunderbox, the garden toilet and store, which bears the signatures of garden staff under the portentous date of ‘August 1914’.

The memorials of the RHS School at Wisley in Surrey and the Royal Botanical Gardens of Edinburgh and Kew show the loss of a generation of horticultural talent to the First World War. Edinburgh lost twenty men, whilst at Kew, thirty seven members of staff are listed as killed above the Kew Guild motto ’Floreat Kew’ (Flourish Kew).

At ZSL London Zoo, two staff members, Albert Staniford and Robert Jones, are commemorated with the profession ‘gardener’. Professional gardeners are also named on community memorials, such as that in Elie, Fife, where two casualties hold the profession of ‘gardener’. At The Kings School in Canterbury the word ’Hortulani’, Latin for gardener, is next to the name of Harry Rogers.

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (IWM WMA 12518 ©IWM 2013)

Royal Botanic Gardens Kew (IWM WMA 12518 ©IWM 2013)

Although the First World War led to the loss of many RHS student gardeners and nursery and estate staff gardeners, the RHS vision of rejuvenation by horticulture greatly assisted the replanting of the countryside and provided food supplies in France and Belgium after the war. The RHS War Relief Fund distributed seeds, saplings and grown trees which were transported by the British Red Cross from 1919 onwards, and many of the trees planted at this time are still growing today.

Notcutt Nursery also returned to exhibit at the 1921 RHS Show of British-grown fruit in Westminster. Despite the nursery’s staff losses during the war, continuity was shown as the nursery was awarded the trade group Silver medal for fruit, where ‘the chief strength lay in the pears, which were exhibited in great variety.’ (The Times, 5 Oct, 1921, pg 8).

By Richard Graham, Office Volunteer

Looking at war memorials, especially in small communities, I am often struck when the same family name recurs. Might they be brothers, or cousins, or even father and son? Local research, aided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, can often provide answers and it is encouraging to see the number of local booklets published in recent years to honour the fallen of their communities.

St Andrews Church, Penrith (IWM 3064 ©Jean Norris, 1998)

St Andrews Church, Penrith (IWM 3064 ©Jean Norris, 1998)

After 14 years volunteering for IWM’s War Memorials Archive (formerly UKNIWM), I am almost convinced there is no war memorial which can correctly be described as unique.

The other day though I was updating the record for the Men of Penrith, in Cumbria and came across thirteen instances where there was a forename followed by ‘and’, and either one or two further names followed by the family surname, eg ‘Ronald and Thomas Richardson.’ covering two lines, but distinguished from the next entry, another Thomas Richardson.

Does anyone know of any other community memorial on which the names of relatives are shown this way?