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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Southend at War: Zeppelins over Essex

The Forum event 20 Aug 2014

Remembering the Great War
Zeppelins over Essex : a talk at The Forum Southend Central Library by Robert Fleming, curator based at the National Army Museum. See poster for details and website for ticket info.

More events are detailed on our Centenary Events in Essex page

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.

Can you help with a ‘nightmare’?

In the collections of the Essex Police Museum, there are three pastel drawings by J Cattell, 1915.

By J Cattell, 1915.  But who was J Cattell & how did the pastel drawings end up at Essex Police Museum?

By J Cattell, 1915.
But who was J Cattell & how did the pastel drawings end up at Essex Police Museum?

However nothing is known about the artist, where the pastels came from and how they ended up with the Essex Police Museum.

Museum Curator, Becky Wash, explains:

It is part of a series of three pastels by J Cattell dated 1915. I’ve tried to do quick research on the artist but didn’t find anything. The three pastel series are named ‘A Specials Constable’s First Night Out’ and also on display in the museum are ‘The Ghost’ (two Special constables find what looks like a ghost in chains which turns out to be a horse) and the rather humorous ‘Love?’ where two Specials find what looks like a burglar breaking through   a window but actually it’s just a man getting a cheeky kiss from his lady, through the window – the result is she knocks her tea flying when the specials pull him out of the window!

They are unlikely to be ‘Essex’ Special Constables as the Specials are wearing uniforms and Essex Specials were only issued with an armband, no hat or coat – although could be Colchester or Southend based – we don’t know. There’s not much history behind them where they came from etc.

Can you help in any way? Or do you know someone who might be able to help? We’d love to hear from you if you think you can solve this History Mystery!

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!

Researching the impact of World War I on Braintree District

Taken from the Braintree Museum website (with permission)

Written by Curator, Jennifer Brown.

Braintree District Museum is one of the partner museums working with Essex County Council on their project ‘Now the Last Poppy has Fallen’. This project aims to research the impact of the First World War on the lives of individuals, families and communities in Essex. It will result in a touring exhibition reflecting on stories from the Essex Home Front, develop museum education sessions for schools and reflective school performances and commission artists to produce performances relating to these stories. The museum is very excited to be a part of this project.

The project group look at Braintree District Museum's World War I archive. Left to Right - Carl, Tony Morrison (Essex-on-Tour & Last Poppy Co-Ordinator), Mike, Jackie, Hannah and Chris

The project group look at Braintree District Museum’s World War I archive.
Left to Right – Carl, Tony Morrison (Essex-on-Tour & Last Poppy Co-Ordinator), Mike, Jackie, Hannah and Chris

Yesterday, Tony Morrison, Co-ordinator of the Essex-on-Tour programme and Project Manager of the Last Poppy project, and five local volunteers visited the museum to view our World War I archive. The group enjoyed looking through the highlights of our collection, including a nationally significant collection of documents and photographs relating to the East Anglian Munitions Committee. Led by Francis Crittall and Mr Stokes of Ransomes and Rapier Ltd., this committee steered a group of 42 local industries who between 1915 and 1918 produced a total of 5 million shells as well as many other important products for the war effort, and dramatically drove down the costs of production. This high turnover at low prices made a massive contribution to the government’s shell supply and helped to save the lives of many troops on the front line. Prior to the establishment of the Committee each gun crew was limited to 5 shells per gun, which led to the death of many of our troops. Below is a photograph of volunteer Chris holding one of the 18lb shells produced at the Crittall factory at Braintree. Other highlights include postcards sent from many different World War I battle zones, and ID papers of men enrolled on vital war industries locally and who were therefore exempted from military service.

Chris with a Crittall 18lb shell

Chris with a Crittall 18lb shell

Seeking Home Front Stories

The volunteers have chosen some exciting initial research topics, including first-hand accounts of the Zeppelin raid on Braintree in 1916 and the voluntary war work of Margaret Mercer, Ariel Crittall’s mother, behind the lines in France. However, we are still looking for more stories about life on the Home Front and the impact of the war on the people of Braintree District. If you have any information, artefacts, or stories to share please do get in contact with us.

You can contact the museum by phone, 01376 325266 or by email, info@braintree.gov.uk.

Zeppelins over Essex

I’ve just found a  BBC documentary from 1972, “Zeppelins over East Anglia” which can be seen on the East Anglian Film Archive’s website. Although much of it is focused on Norfolk, there is a wonderful description of the Zeppelin shot down over Wigborough.

Zeppelins over East Anglia, a BBC documentary from 1972

Zeppelins over East Anglia, a BBC documentary from 1972

The film tells of the crash of the airship LZ33 between Peldon and Wigborough in Essex, after attack from Fighter Pilot Brandon. The commander Captain Leutnant Bercker, brought the airship down into a field and then tried to warn the inhabitants of a nearby cottage that he was going to set fire to the ship. He received no replay, but did just that. The crew made off on foot. They encountered Special constable Edgar Nichols, who arrested them. James Rout, who lived in another cottage nearby, recalls the Zeppelin crashing. He shows a piece of the Zeppelin to the camera and recalls that a baby girl was born that night and named Zeppelina!

Watch the film from 18min 30 seconds to see the excerpt about Essex.

I hope you enjoy it.

Sarah