75 years ago today the crew of a Whitley bomber, on a Second World War training mission from Honeybourne airfield, crashed next Broadway Tower. Pilot HG Hagen, Sgt EG Ekins, Flt Sgt DH Kelly, Sgt DA Marriott and Sgt RS Phillips did not survive when the aircraft came down less than 200 yards from the Tower on 2nd June 1943.
Today a Lancaster Bomber will be performing a fly past at the site at 1.03pm. At 2.15pm the short annual inter-denominational service will be held at the memorial stone which marks the spot where the Whitley crashed.
Everyone is welcome at the Tower to pay their respects to the brave airmen who all lost their lives on that date.
Last weekend I visited Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing outside Passchendaele near Zonnebeke in Belgium. Tyne Cot is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world for any war and commemorates nearly 12,000 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War and the Memorial another 35,000 men. The scale of the site is overwhelming and like other Commonwealth War Grave Commission sites the grounds are beautifully maintained, and at the time of my visit rows of ‘Remembrance’ red floribunda roses planted in front of the wall of panels and amongst some of the headstones were in full bloom.
In the Visitor Centre on the approach to the Cemetery, a recorded voice reads out the names of each of the servicemen listed as ‘missing in action’ and there was a display of medals, letters and photographs of some of the men. Amongst the men commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing is Leonard Frank Green, son of Harold Joseph and Mary Ann Green, High Street, Broadway. Corporal Leonard Green of the 1st/8th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment was killed in action, aged 20, on 27th August 1917.
Last weekend I visited the Menin Gate in Ypres to attend the very moving daily Act of Remembrance at the Memorial. At 8pm every evening The Last Post, the traditional final salute to the fallen, is played by buglers in honour of the memory of the soldiers of the former British Empire and its allies who died in the Ypres Salient during the First World War. At around 7.30pm the traffic under the Gate was stopped and shortly afterwards members of the local Fire Brigade and Fire Brigade Buglers marched from the market square along Menenstraat to the Gate for the ceremony whilst members of the public gathered beneath the Memorial.
The Menin Gate designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield with sculpture by Sir William Reid-Dick, was unveiled by Lord Plumer on 24th July 1927. The Memorial bears the names of more than 54,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. Amongst those commemorated are the following men from Broadway:
Private George Barnett, 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment who was killed in action, aged 28, on 9th July 1915.
Private William Harold Gabb, 3rd Battalion Coldstream Guards who was fatally wounded in action, aged 34, on 7th November 1914.
Captain Archibald Robert Hewitt DSO, 1st Battalion East Surrey Regiment who was killed in action, aged 32, on 25th April 1915.
On Monday 12th December the Broadway History Society will be meeting at 7pm in Broadway Methodist Church Hall, High Street, Broadway. The speaker will be Dennis Plant with a talk on ‘The Worcestershire Regiment in World War One’. Non-members welcome (£3).
Several men from Broadway served with the Worcesters during the First World War: see blog post https://broadwayhistorysociety.wordpress.com/2016/11/15/worcestershire-regiment/ for further details.
This Rembrance Sunday a further donation of £325 was made to the Poppy Appeal, money raised by recent sales of ‘Broadway Remembers’.
We we will remember them.
On Monday 14th November 2016, Broadway History Society will be hosting a talk by Steve Williams and Debbie Williamson on ‘The Lost Soldiers of the Somme: a Tolkien and Broadway Connection’ in Broadway Community Library, Leamington Road, Broadway WR12 7DZ, starting at 7pm.
J.R.R. Tolkien CBE, FRSL, aged 24, in 1916
Steve Williams, who writes under the name of Steve Ponty, and is the author of ‘Middle-Earth in Magic Mirror Maps… Of the Wilderland in Wales… Of the Shire in England’, has researched the part played by J.R.R. Tolkien, who served with the Lancashire Fusiliers in the Battle of the Somme during 1916, including the military details, stage by stage, and will discuss the impact of Tolkien’s writing of Mordor in ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Tolkien lost all four of his best friends during the First World War and remarkably a young Adolf Hitler was in the opposing trenches on the Western Front.
The loss of young lives is echoed in the experiences of Broadway, and Debbie Williamson will talk about the lives of six men from the village who lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme.
Non-members of the Broadway History Society are welcome to attend the meeting (£3 on the door). For information about joining the Society please visit www.broadwayhistorysociety.wordpress.com.
As part of the Worcestershire World War One Hundred programme The Somme Project is a countywide initiative for Worcestershire libraries to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. Lasting 141 days, from 1st July to the 18th November 1916, the Battle of the Somme affected most local families, not only in Worcestershire, but across the country.
Broadway Library, Leamington Road, Broadway, has prepared a display honouring Private 27819 Charles Hubert Keyte of the 3rd battalion Worcestershire Regiment. Charles Keyte was born in Broadway in 1891 and attended Broadway Council School before starting his own boot making and repairing business which eventually moved to The Busy Bee on the High Street. Charles married Lillian Slater in 1913 and they had two sons, Philip and Charles.
Charles voluntarily attested in 1915 under the Derby Scheme and was posted to the Western Front in April 1916. Charles served in the Battle of the Somme and was killed in action on 22nd August 1916. Charles is buried in Authuile Military Cemetery, France, and is commemorated on the Broadway War Memorial and Broadway Council School Memorial Board.