If you shed a tear…

Researcher, Ted Sparrow tells us about his online publications about the North Essex coast during WW1, in our next guest blog.

If you shed a tear poppy

If you shed a tear

In the first decade of this century a number of local churches produced memorial books telling the stories of those lost in the service of our country. To commemorate the centenary of the Great War an e-book has been produced entitled “If you shed a tear”. This is compiled from the memorial books of a dozen coastal parishes on the North Essex coast between the rivers Colne and Blackwater. It contains over 200 profiles of men associated with these villages killed in that war.

Those looking for a smooth narrative will be disappointed. This book is in fact a scrap book compiled by the local community and is dedicated to the Generation that endured the Great War. The odd press cutting, letter home or photograph still nurtured by their family is all that remains and is supplemented with such information that is readily available in the public domain.

The introduction describes the project to tell the stories of our Fallen. Thereafter the book is broken into 3 major sections. Firstly chapters1 to 8 discusses 1914 and how various groups in the community became involved in the war. The second section has profiles of other men lost in the 3 years 1915, 1916, and 1917. The final year of fighting is covered in the last section, which also summarise the cost to our community.

The title incidentally derives from a paragraph which reads: –






You are invited to download the book “If you shed a tear”.

There is no charge.

It is given free so that as many people as possible may read their sad stories and admire their sheer courage.

The file has some 385 pages and will take several minutes to download.

See link:  http://issuu.com/tollesbury

The Valiant Men of Essex

This book is published in the Centenary year of the outbreak of the Great War 1914 – 1918. It is intended as a tribute to all those who endured the horrors of that war and to honour the memory of those awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

The seventeen represented here are associated with Essex as encompassed by the county boundaries of that time. Two were awarded the naval version of the Victoria Cross from the Battle of Jutland and Gallipoli.

Those to the Army included the very first given, which were at Nimy Bridge Mons and the Battle of Le Cateau in 1914. On the Western Front they were earned in the Battle of Saint Eloi, Passchendaele and two in the crucial battles March 1918 during the German “Kaiserschlact” campaign.  Another was at Vimy Ridge while the last were in the final weeks of the war at Canal du Nord and at Havrincourt. Their ranks also include a padre and a doctor plus four from the Dominions. Thus this group is fairly representative of all those who earned the award.

One was earned in Palestine and another in Mesopotamia. In this last case he was seriously considered for a bar to the VC but Lt Gen. Sir S Maud, GOC Troops at Kut did not want to set a precedent – a double VC was unknown at the time.

So please read their stories that they may be remembered and so live on in people’s memories.

You can also find The Valiant Men of Hertfordshire and The Valiant Men of Suffolk on the website.


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.


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