Luke Wright’s 2nd Poem

Doris Bardell nee Carter (courtesy of Michael Bardell)

Doris Bardell nee Carter (courtesy of Michael Bardell)

The second of Luke Wright’s original poems based on stories of World War One in Essex, has now been written.

It is called Zeppelin Attack, Braintree, 1916 and is based on a reminiscence from Doris Bardell, nee Carter.

Doris’ memories feature on one of the exhibition panels that will be unveiled during the Essex at War event on Sunday 14th September at Hylands House, Chelmsford.

Luke writes about the inspiration for this poem on his blog:

I come from just up the road from Braintree. I didn’t know about Crittall’s before researching this piece. Many of the window frames that made post-war Art Deco buildings so distinctive were made there, in this sleepy Essex town.

The bit about the German captain knowing where he was due to the bell has been disproved, as St Michael’s Church never had a bell, but that was the myth and myths make better poems. For me, what was fascinating about Doris’s account of this raid was the fact that despite it being the closest she got to the actual war it paled in significance with the wait for her dad to get home. Much is made of the collective suffering and collective striving of war, but I was struck by this private and personal longing.

You can read the poem on ‘Our Poems’ page or listen to Luke reading it:

 

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Hylands Military Hospital

 Linda Knock, volunteer and Friend of Hylands House, tells us a little about the history of Hylands House in Chelmsford during the First World War. I wonder if V Festival participants will appreciate the rich history of the house and its inhabitants.

Our research comes under two headings – ‘Hylands Military hospital and the people who were there’ and ‘The Men of Hylands who served in the Great War’. Our task was to find ‘the stories’ of these men.   For both lots of research the Widford Choir books in the Essex Record Office and the local newspapers in the British Newspaper Archive proved invaluable.  We have also been helped by the families of the men we have found.  By building trees on Ancestry and putting a post there, I am in contact with the descendants of three men, and have been helped by a member of the Family History Society of Queensland [Australia] – I posted a request on their Facebook page and the following day one of their members went for a walk in the cemetery in Brisbane and found the family’s grave, including a mention of the soldier who died at Hylands.  The emails to the local papers unfortunately did not produce any results, but the piece in the Friends of Hylands House newsletter found the descendant of one local soldier.  Information from Luckings, the funeral directors, was very useful.

An Australian war grave for Samuel Barrow, a patient in the hospital who was presented with his Military medal on the ward, and then was sent home to Australia.

An Australian war grave for Samuel Barrow, a patient in the hospital who was presented with his Military medal on the ward, and then was sent home to Australia.

We were pleased to discover that Sir Daniel Gooch made the bedside lockers for the wards when the ground floor of his house was made into a hospital; first used by the 2nd and 3rd South Midland Field Ambulance Corps, then for Belgian soldiers and British soldiers.  Many of the latter were from Scottish regiments and the local newspaper at the time of their arrival at the Hylands Halt on the railway said  “Several Scottish regiments were represented, but as they were all in khaki it was difficult to distinguish their regiments.”  There were also soldiers from Canadian and Australian regiments and I have to admit it was easier to access their records than those over here [and at no cost].  From over 1500 men who were treated at Hylands we have only 9 names from the local newspapers.  But from those names we have found their families and their stories. One success already was the cleaning of the war graves in St Mary’s Churchyard in Widford.  I was very upset when I visited the graves in November last year to find they were green, so I emailed the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and was pleased to find that when I returned in April that they are in their original condition.

The grave of Private Gough, Canadian Infantry, in Widford churchyard

The grave of Private Gough, Canadian Infantry, in Widford churchyard

At the time of the Great War the Hylands Estate was not the park as we know it now, but a huge estate including many of the farms around – Widford Hall, Skeggs, Montpeliers, Webbs, Elms and many others, so the task was huge.  We decided to find out as many names as possible from the 1911 census and the 1918 voters list [ERO].  There were many men who were the right age, so we have a list of names, but are concentrating on producing the stories of a few.  We decided to include Widford as it was so close to Hylands and many of the men attended, or were choristers at St Mary’s Widford. The stories we have chosen so far are those of Lancelot Gooch of Hylands House, two brothers who went into the Army and the Navy at 16, a soldier and his wife who both died of influenza just after Peace was declared, a gamekeeper who lived in one of the Estate lodges, and a soldier who lived in one of the Causeway Cottages that belonged to the estate.

Eric Robinson of Widford on the Naval Memorial in Portsmouth

Eric Robinson of Widford on the Naval Memorial in Portsmouth

If anyone reading this has information about soldiers who were treated at Hylands Military Hospital, or those who were from the Estate, please get in touch.

The results of our research will be displayed in the House at the event on 14th and 15th September.

Why not visit Hylands House on Sunday 14th September to see the research presented and also to get the first glimpse of the Last Poppy touring exhibition. The official launch will be at 12:45 that day! Watch this space…

100 years on…

And so the commemorations to mark the centenary of the start of the first World War has begun…

There will be many events and plenty of TV coverage to keep us all informed of what happened 100 years ago, and we will be encouraged to ‘Remember’, to look back and reflect, to weigh up what that war means for us today.

Frank Bernard Lane

Frank Bernard Lane

For me, I know that one of my great grandfathers, Frank Bernard Lane, served for his country and although I never knew him I appreciate what he sacrificed for us, although I do know that he survived the Great War, unlike many of his friends, I suspect.

I have read many stories of bravery from our wonderful project researchers and have been impressed at the willingness of men and women to step into the unknown and risk their lives for the ‘greater good’. I hope you manage to have a look back through our archived blog posts to discover some of the stories. I also hope you get a chance to see the touring exhibition, when it is ready from September 2014 onwards, at your local museum or library, where you can read more fascinating stories.

Essex Poet, Luke Wright (photo courtesy of martin Figura)

Essex Poet, Luke Wright (photo courtesy of Martin Figura)

We were pleased to present the first of five completely original poems written by local poet, Luke Wright. He has taken the research given to him by our project manager, Tony Morrison, from our volunteer researchers, and turned it into a wonderful, reflective poem about what was going on in Essex, 100 years ago. Please do read it and let us know what you think.

In addition, the Essex Record Office and our partner museums have begun to work on education sessions or resources for secondary schools. Chelmer Valley High School, in Chelmsford has already held an art competition in conjunction with both the Essex Fire Museum and the Essex Police Museum. You can see their art work on our Project Partners: Schools page.

If you get a chance, do have a look at the EROs most recent blog post: ‘And so the mad Dance of Death has begun’: a look at the Essex County Chronicle of 7 August 1914, which is an extensive look at the Essex Chronicle’s reports from 100 years ago.

Whatever you do to remember, always remember that these were ordinary human beings like you and I, sucked into a frightening and traumatic experience beyond their control. What would you do today? Would you be first in line to sign up to go to war and serve for your country? Or would you have held back, with dread? None of us can say…

Sarah Girling, Project Manager

Epping Forest District and World War One Community Project

Epping Forest District Museums Audience Development Officer, Francesca Pellegrino, tells us about their community project.

Epping Forest District Museum is working on a project to help document the links between the district and World War One. The Museum does have a selection of World War One objects within the collection but we felt it was important to discover any other stories, memories or objects that people had and make a record of these.

As part of the project the team will be going out and about into the district, holding Heritage Events in various venues for people to drop in with anything they might have to share with us. The objects will be recorded and stories documented and these records will become part of the Museum’s collection.  Once the Museum reopens after redevelopment we have plans to commemorate World War One through our displays but in the meantime the Museum has a small community cabinet exhibition planned for August this year. The exhibition will be put together from items discovered on these heritage documentation days and will be on display in the reception of the Civic Offices in Epping from August.

Our first event took place at Budworth Hall in Ongar on Saturday 21st June. The event was run alongside the Ongar Millennium History Society and we had around 100 people turn up on the day to hear about our project, the Museum’s redevelopment and see some of the objects on display from the History Society. In particular it was great to see the guest book from the Cock Inn in Ongar which is part of the History Society’s collection.

cock inn guest book

This image shows pages from the book, signed by soldiers from the South Mid. Royal Engineers passing through Ongar on 22nd August 1914.

Several people brought objects and memories to share with us and hearing the stories and seeing the objects was a special experience for the team, both fascinating and emotional. It was great for the Museum team to be able to document some of these stories. One gentleman had objects and papers relating to his uncle and father who both came from Ongar and fought in the First World War. Below you can see his father’s discharge papers.

discharge papers

Discharge papers for G. Perry

You can find out more on the website,  Museum blog or Facebook.

We are still looking for stories and objects connecting the Great War and the district. If you have anything you might like to share with the Museum team then please get in touch via email museum@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or telephone 01992 716882.

 

Merry it was to laugh there…

Jubilant Productions

present

Merry It Was To Laugh There

Cramphorn Theatre, Fairfield Road, Chelmsford CM1 1JG

Friday 4 July 2014 8pm

Tickets £13.50 Concessions £12.00

Box Office 01245 606505

http://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres

Merry it was...

Jubilant Productions present Merry It Was To Laugh There, a poignant and evocative reflection on World War 1, using poetry and diaries written during the global conflict. Merry It Was… comes to the Cramphorn Theatre in Chelmsford on Friday 4 July at 8pm.

Merry It Was… marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. Weaving together poetry, songs and diaries with archive imagery and pertinent facts about the lives of the men who were fighting and the women waiting for their return, Merry It Was… acknowledges the legacy of the written word which stands as a powerful archive of the experiences of ordinary men and women.

A devised piece, it captures the realities of war reminding us of the universal and enduring nature of the emotions expressed whilst acknowledging the unique and unimaginable conditions and situations of that time.

Merry It Was… moves from the poetry of the early war and the poet soldiers such as Wilfred Owen to the words of the soldier poets such as Woodbine Willy writing Trench poetry. It draws on the diaries of a serving soldier and gives a voice to those poems written by women who were finding a new role to play in the world while their men were fighting at the Front. It is an evocative, moving, at times funny, at times tragic, depiction of real life experiences of the war to end all wars.

Performed by two actors of great experience and depth, Christine Absalom (Radio 4, Mercury Theatre, Colchester) and Tim Freeman (Mercury Theatre, Colchester), Merry It Was... is a must for all who lovers of poetry, students of history and those who wish to learn from the past.

Tickets for Merry It Was To Laugh There are on sale now and cost £13.50 concessions £12. Book today by calling 01245 606505 or online at http://www.chelmsford.gov.uk/theatres

Merry it was... 2

The Battle of Arras – Can you help?

RESEARCHING PHOTOS OF SOLDIERS WHO TOOK PART

IN THE BATTLE OF ARRAS

 For the centenary, the Wellington Quarry Museum in France, is preparing a big exhibition about the soldiers who were in Arras during the Great War.

Carriere Wellington image

For this project, the museum is looking for photos of soldiers who took part in the Battles of Arras in WW1.

The photos will be displayed in the whole town of Arras in big formats so that the inhabitants, local people or visitors can cross the faces of the men who lived in the town for 3 years.

This project will also be divided into 3 levels:

  1. Finding the photos of the soldiers
  2. Finding the stories of these soldiers (life, letters, archives…)
  3. Finding the descendants of these men to attend the dawn Service in  Arras on April 9th 2017

If you have photos, ideas or links which can help us or if you are a descendant please contact us:

The Wellington Quarry Museum in Arras: carrierewellington@gmail.com or isabelle@explorearras.com

Carriere Wellington Poster

Wickford at War, Part 2

Guest blog writer, James Nason, continues his story of his family in Wickford and their experience of the First World War.

I have been tracing my family tree now for 5 or 6 years.  I’ve managed to trace my ancestors back to the 1500’s.  On my Dad’s side most of them are from Essex, Wickford and Colchester, which explains why I’ve always felt overjoyed to see the ‘Welcome to Essex’ signs on the occasions I’ve left the county.

I have found 8 relatives, from both sides of my tree, who were killed during the First World War.  The first of them to die was a second cousin, George Neville, who is one of 4 relatives I have listed on the Wickford & Runwell War Memorial.

George was born in Wickford on Tuesday 22 October 1889, the second of 7 children born to George and Laura Ann Neville.

Laura Ann Neville, nee Carter

Laura Ann Neville, nee Carter

By 1911 the family were living in the Railway Cottages in Wickford and, like his father, George was employed by Great Eastern Railways.

Annie is nearest the camera.  George and Percy are standing at the back.  Elsie is holding Annie's hand, Frederick is dressed as a sailor and Mabel is behind him. This is taken by the crossing at Wickford Train Station around 1906.

Annie is nearest the camera. George and Percy are standing at the back. Elsie is holding Annie’s hand, Frederick is dressed as a sailor and Mabel is behind him.
This is taken by the crossing at Wickford Train Station around 1906.

Cousin George enlisted in Stratford during October 1914 and joined the 4th (Reserve Battalion) Coldstream Guards.  Before his regiment were to go to the front George went home for a few days leave.  On Sunday 2nd May 1915 George felt unwell, the following day he had a sore throat and a doctor was sent for.  Scarlet Fever was diagnosed and on Wednesday George was taken to Billericay Hospital.  On Friday 7 May 1915 George died whilst in hospital.

George Neville

George Neville

Less than a year later, in February 1916, George’s father was killed whilst working on the tracks at Wickford train station. I’m always pleased that George’s family could bury him as so many families didn’t get that opportunity.

George Neville's war grave in St. Catherine’s Churchyward, Wickford.

George Neville’s war grave in St. Catherine’s Churchyard, Wickford.

 

Education Update: Essex Police Museum

Our research volunteers have been working very hard to uncover stories from Essex so that they can be compiled into an exhibition, to be launched in September.

Meanwhile our museums have been meeting with teachers to work together to create educational sessions on the First World War, using collections, that will last beyond the life of the project.

Becky Wash from the Essex Police Museum has been working with volunteer Mick Ford and teachers from Chelmer Valley High School.

EPM logo

Here’s summary of their plans:

Research

Mick Ford has done a large amount of research relating to the Fire Brigade during the Great War.  A Fire / Police connection can be made with the L32 crash near Billericay, although the police museum does not have any material relating to the L32 crash. A model of the L32 is currently on loan to Stow Maries Aerodrome.

The museum’s main WW1 story is the L33 crash at Little Wigborough. This occurred on the same evening as the L32 crash, however there appears to be no fire connection with the L33 crash.

Volunteer Adrian Jones is currently researching the story of Zeppelina and Charles ‘Zepp’ Smith. Trustee Maureen Scollan is researching Dr Salter – a Special Constable and doctor who helped give birth to Zeppelina, and Special Constable Edgar Nicholas.

Schools

Mick is a teacher at Chelmer Valley School. He has introduced me to the art and history teachers and together we have arranged for a short assembly on March 12. The assembly will run with a powerpoint presentation. We have chosen ‘Zeppelins’ as our topic.

From our presentation, the year 9 pupils will create a piece of artwork based on ‘The Nightmare’  – a pastel on display at the museum. As an incentive I have offered to choose and display one student’s piece.

The history teacher showed keen for a loans box of objects, photographs and copies of original documents, laminated. This would be fairly simple to create, and there is funding within the project for this.

A combined ‘Emergency Services’ Loans Box could help boost outreach figures for both the Essex Police Museum and Essex Fire Museum and would also help with the limited time curators have delivering a session.

The history teacher was also in favour of visiting the museum for a delivered session and admitted that although it would be more difficult to arrange it would not be out of the question.

More information about the Zeppelin raids can be found in the Essex Police History Notebook No.7 and in our blog post Zeppelins over Essex. The L33 story was also featured on the BBCs WW1 at Home website.

This is a great start and we wish the Police Museum every success with their plans.

Wickford at War

Following on from our previous blog post, we return with another guest, writing about his family from Wickford, James Nason.

My family haven’t really got very far.

I can trace them back to my 10th Great Grandfather, Richard Carter, in Wickford thanks to a document from St. Catherine’s Church that is held by The Essex Record Office.  Over 400 years later I live Pitsea, a short journey away from Wickford.

The Carter’s have been a massive influence on Wickford and still are to this day.  One of these was my Grand Aunt, Queenie Thorrington nee Carter.  She was born, in Wickford, on 8 April 1910.

Queenie spoke to author Jim Reeve, who went on to write ‘Wickford Memories’, about her memories of the First World War.  Her father, my Great Grandfather, Halbert John Carter was employed at docks as a carpenter and a joiner, converting ships to troop ships.  He wasn’t healthy enough to join the armed forces and he was kept on as a carpenter at the docks even after hostilities had ended.

Hubert, Pearl and Queenie Carter.  Taken around 1917.

Hubert, Pearl and Queenie Carter. Taken around 1917.

Her mother, Daisy Ethel Carter, nee Bewers, had two older brothers that fought during the Great War.

William John Cornelius Bewers (known as Will), born 5 May 1876, was a career sailor and had joined the Royal Navy before the turn of the 20th Century.

Henry Robert Bewers (known as Bob), born 7 May 1877, joined the army in 1916.

Ada Carter (nee Bewers), William Bewers and William John Cornelius Bewers carrying Queenie Carter, 1911.

Ada Carter (nee Bewers), William Bewers and William John Cornelius Bewers carrying Queenie Carter, 1911.

William was a Chief Stoker on HM Submarine E22.  The submarine was part of a naval experiment.  It carried two Sopwith Seaplanes on its casing that would be floated and then sent to intercept Zeppelins.  The experiment was eventually abandoned.  Whilst on surface manoeuvres, off of Great Yarmouth, on 25 April 1916 his submarine was torpedoed and sunk.  Only two men survived and uncle Will was killed.  Less than a year before this he married Eva Grange.  She wrote to the admiralty asking for information as he was originally just listed as missing.  I can’t imagine she got to spend much time with her new husband and the little news she received after he went missing must have been awful.

Aunt Queenie can remember seeing what she thought was the whole British army marching through Wickford, and up towards Runwell.  I was told a story that one of those soldiers was uncle Bob, that he waved to my aunt and was disappointed that she never recognised him.

Henry Robert Bewers, a Private in the Second Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, was killed 18 August 1916 in Cochrane Alley, Guillemont, France.  He never married.

Henry Robert Bewers

Henry Robert Bewers

Queenie remembered two events that bought the war to the town of Wickford.  Firstly she recalled the Zeppelin that came down and crashed in Burstead.  “There were flames in the sky and by the time it had gone over us, it had come down.”

Later on a German Gotha came down “between the river and London Road” whilst Queenie was at school.  After school the children went to see the wreckage.  “What I remember most” said Queenie “was the terrible smell of the bodies.”

Queenie died, January 2009, aged 98.

If you’d like to tell us about your Essex family and their experience of the First World War then get in touch. We love having guest blog writers!

An Unconventional Hero

Our next blog post is from guest writer, Julie Warren from Wickford.

On 14 March 1908 as the result of an ongoing feud between two Wickford families, Edward Taylor broke Harry Carter’s jaw. “I thought he was going to hit me and so I thought I would be first,” Taylor is quoted as saying in an article in the ‘Essex Newsman’. He was sentenced to 14 days hard labour at Chelmsford Prison and as he was a member of the Army Reserve the incident was noted on his Service Record.

Only around 40% of the Service Records for non-commissioned officers and other ranks who served during the First World War survive and of those the majority are either water- or fire-damaged. Add to this the Military’s propensity for using abbreviations and acronyms and Service Records from the period can be quite challenging to read and understand. Thankfully the MOD has produced a comprehensive list of definitions for the more commonly used terms.

Service record showing evidence of damage

Service record showing evidence of damage

Edward Taylor’s records show that he had enlisted in 1904 for 2 years and the time he spent in the Army was a catalogue of misdemeanours including taking a horse from the stables without permission; fighting; constantly breaking out of barracks and refusing to get out of bed. Under normal circumstances he wasn’t the sort of person the British Army would have welcomed back with open arms but when war broke out there was a need for trained soldiers and so he was mobilized to Woolwich on the 6th of August 1914. He arrived in France on the 11th of August with the British Expeditionary Force and just over a month later he was in trouble again! Having been caught “receiving intoxicating liquor contrary to strict orders” he was penalised with 14 days CB (confinement to barracks) and also had to forfeit 14 days’ pay.

As a talented horseman and groom, for much of his war service he was attached to the Cavalry Division driving the horse-drawn field ambulances. This role seems to have made him finally face up to his responsibilities and there is no further record of him needing to be disciplined. It was while driving a 3rd Cavalry Field Ambulance that he was killed, at Caix on the Somme on 9 August 1918 by a bomb dropped by an enemy aircraft.

Harry Carter survived the war and died in 1949 at the age of 68. The Carters are still well known in Wickford and the headquarters of their family firm at Construction House in Runwell Road sit alongside the War Memorial where Edward Taylor is remembered. It is almost as if Edward and Harry still want to keep an eye on each other.

Carter overlooking Taylor today!

Carter overlooking Taylor today!

For more information about Wickford’s War Memorial see http://www.wickfordmemorial.com

Julie Warren, 5 February 2014