Colne Engaine War Memorial Project

Written by Spike Townsend, CEWM Chairman

The village of Colne Engaine in North Essex have commenced a community based project to build a War Memorial within in the village to be completed in time for the 100th Anniversary of the First World War.

Designed by local architect, Philip Morphy, the memorial will include the original war memorial.

Designed by local architect, Philip Morphy, the memorial will include the original war memorial.

Aims

The memorial project has several aims:

  1. To be a community based project in design and build
  2. To become a focal point for the village to commemorate Remembrance Sunday
  3. To become a community use facility throughout the year
  4. To be built on a theme of Remembrance and Reconciliation
  5. To encourage the participation and support of young people within the aims.
  6. To support a local military covenant by use and participation in local service charities.
  7. Encouraging education and learning of conflict.

The cost of the project is estimated to be in the region of £25,000.

The committee is formed of village representatives from the Parish Council, Parochial Church Council, Youth Club, Historical Society and others, and our Honorary President is Lt Col Paul Morris, CO of 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regt.

Proposal

A group of residents have formed a Committee with the objective of renovating the old memorial beam that was removed in 1962, and then raising it to be incorporated within the new memorial that is to be located in the Parish Recreation Ground so that residents can use it as a place of quiet contemplation and for general community use.

The memorial has been designed by local architect, Philip Morphy, who has given his services free of charge to the committee.

We would hope that the structure will be used not only by parents and children using the playground, but by the school as an outside classroom when discussing the war and conflict. It could also be used as a small band stand for small concerts.

We have had a great deal of support from local trades people, including bricklayers and carpenters, keen to be involved and give their services free of charge. Skilled artisans are also involved in the creation of the new memorial plaque. The structure will be built using locally sourced materials.

Please follow us on Facebook:

www.facebook.com/ColneEngaineWarMemorialProject

Here you can follow one of our regular features, “The Men of Colne Engaine”  which tells the stories behind the men named on the memorial.

The story made the local press.

Walton’s Hero, Herbert Columbine VC

Essex has many heroes from the First World War, men and women who went the extra mile. Our next blog is about Herbert Columbine and his story is told by Carole McEntee-Taylor.

Carole's book which tells the story of Herbert Colombine in greater detail.

Carole’s book which tells the story of Herbert Colombine in greater detail.

‘Save Yourselves, I’ll carry on’. These were the last known words of Herbert Columbine, shouted at his two companions on the afternoon of 22nd March 1918. At 9am that morning, in Hervilly Woods, France, 9 Squadron Machine Gun Corps had come under intense attack from a heavy force of German infantry. Private Columbine took command of an isolated gun, with no wire in front and began firing. As the German onslaught grew and casualties mounted, Herbert and two others eventually became separated from the rest of their Squadron. After several hours it became clear their position would soon be overrun so Herbert told them to escape while they could. Now on his own, Herbert hung on tenaciously, repelling several attacks, each one deadlier than the last. He was only defeated after the Germans bought up air support and dropped a bomb on his position. Herbert Columbine has no known grave.

Herbert was born in November 1893 in London to Emma and Herbert Columbine. When he was 6 years old Herbert’s father, caught up in the ‘khaki fever’ that was sweeping the country, joined the 2nd Battalion (10th Foot) Lincolnshire Regiment and went off to fight in the Boer War. He never returned. On the 11th July 1900 he was killed in a battle at Silkaatsnek leaving Emma a widow and Herbert fatherless.

crescent road

Crescent Road, Walton on the Naze

By 1911 Emma was living in Walton on the Naze and Herbert had joined the 19th Hussars. Three years later, as 3780 Pte Machine Gun Section, he was on his way to France with the BEF, subsequently facing action at Mons, the Race to the Coast and the subsequent actions at Ypres.

Herbert’s Machine Gun Section was brigaded into the 9th Cavalry MG Squadron on 28 February 1916. But Bert did not leave the 19th Hussars to become a member of the Machine Gun Corps until 27 June 1916. Together with sixty-nine other men of the 19th Hussars Bert was compulsorily transferred to the MGC Cavalry and given the new army number 50720.

Herbert stayed on the Western Front, taking part in various actions and also spending time in reserve. As a machine gunner he was a prime target for enemy snipers, yet somehow he survived. In March 1918 the Germans launched a massive offensive, the intention to defeat the Allies before the arrival of fresh American troops could really have any impact. The collapse of Russia had allowed the Germans to bring back all their divisions from the eastern front leaving the Allies hopelessly outnumbered. Herbert’s last stand helped to buy the retreating Allies time to regroup and reform their defence.

training

All author royalties from the sale of this book go to the Columbine Statue Fund of which Dame Judi Dench is Patron. This is a project to raise money for a lasting memorial to Herbert Columbine in his home town of Walton on the Naze, Essex. His medals are currently on display in the Essex Regiment Museum in Chelmsford Essex.

The statue in November 2013 with the sculptor John Doubleday (left) Will Columbine, Herbert’s great nephew (centre) and Carole McEntee-Taylor.

The statue in November 2013 with the sculptor John Doubleday (left) Will Columbine, Herbert’s great nephew (centre) and Carole McEntee-Taylor.

This was the statue in November 2013 with the sculptor John Doubleday (left) Will Columbine, Herbert’s great nephew (centre) and me. It has now gone to the foundry but we still haven’t raised all the money. For information on how to donate please see http://www.carolemctbooks.info/herbert-columbine-vc/ There is also so Facebook page to keep up to date with the campaign.

Herbert’s VC citation reads:

Herbert Columbine VC

Herbert Columbine VC

Herbert George Columbine

No. 50720 Private

9th Squadron Machine Gun Corps

Date of Act of Bravery: 22 March 1918

‘For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice displayed, when, owing to casualties, Private Columbine took over command of a gun and kept firing it from 9.00 am till 1.00 pm in an isolated position with no wire in front. During this time, wave after wave of the enemy failed to get up to him. Owing to his being attacked by a low flying aeroplane, the enemy at last gained a strong footing in the trench on either side. The position being untenable, he ordered the two remaining men to get away, and though being bombed from either side, he kept his gun firing and inflicted tremendous losses. He was eventually killed by a bomb which blew up him and his gun. He showed throughout the highest valour, determination and self-sacrifice.’

Herbert Columbine VC is available from all good bookshops and internet retailers. Carole McEntee-Taylor is the author of military history and historical fiction. She works at the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester and lives with her husband, David, in Essex. www.carolemctbooks.info