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.
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.
Remembered Today: Private Reginald Bertram Hill, 1st Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, who was killed in action on the Western Front on 4th July 1915. Reginald, who was born in Broadway in 1894 and grew up at Bury End on the outskirts of the village. Reginald, an apprenticed as a baker after leaving Broadway Council School and enlisted with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in December 1914. Reginald is buried in Bard Cottage Cemetery, Belgium, and is commemorated on the war memorial in Broadway.
Your County Needs You! Can you help commemorate the role Worcestershire played in the First World War?
The People’s Collection is the culmination of a four-year programme of events and activities, organised by Worcestershire Archives, part of the Worcestershire World War 100 project, commemorating the role Worcestershire played in World War One.
The organisers are looking for as many of your ancestors as possible to be represented – to display items belonging to them, or used by them, whether they were serving abroad or keeping the home fires of Worcestershire burning – be they letters, medals, uniform, photographs or anything else that relates to their war time experiences.
The project wants to tell their stories. They want to bring them to life, so that they can be remembered and cherished by those of us who owe our way of life to their sacrifices.
Donated items will be displayed as close to their home town as possible, in one of the participating venues during Spring/Summer 2018.
Please search through your drawers and attics and help create a long-lasting legacy of your ancestors’ role in changing the lives of so many.
Donations can be taken to the Worcestershire Soldier Gallery at the Museum and Art Gallery, Foregate Street, Worcester WR1 1DT, or contact the team directly for advice either by phone on 01905 766352, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note it may not be possible to display all donated items, but they will be held by Worcestershire Museums/Archives to be accessed by all.