War Memorials | Lifeboat Memorials | Military Graves | Documents/Notes | Statistics

A review of 2015

A lot has happened in the last year and some of it wouldn't have happened without help from other people. People like Colin Sweett at the Imperial War Museum (IWM) who sent me list of War Memorials by county, for with out this I would be still in the dark about most! Or Beamer for keeping the Tramper TWS going and adding bits like a collection bucket holder and new lights and indicators that can be seen past the bucket.

I'd have come unstuck, literally, without Le Mark Group and their Velcro aka hook and loop tape, I don't know how I would have managed without it! It has fixed a Paralympians wheel chair, stuck things on the walls and roof of the trailer and held everything down on the scooter. And, its even held my leg together!

Also Tesco, Greene King, Mitchell and Butlers and the many small businesses and families that allow me to plug in the scooter and welcome the cats and myself, many of whom go above and beyond the call of duty as it were...

On the 1st January 2016 it will be the one thousandth day since setting off from Lochgilphead, and I've raised an average of £60 per day. I'm very happy with this and long may it continue!

Phase 2

This phase of the trip started on the 2nd January when I headed to Beamer in Salisbury to get the scooter and trailer checked after completing the coast and as I've learnt to say after many comments of along the lines of "You've done the coast?", yes and most of the islands including Lundy, the persons jaw tends to drop! Great Britain is (alphabetically) England, Scotland, Wales and its islands, from the people I have met who have done, doing or have met someone "doing" the coast there are few who do the islands unless they are linked by a bridge, there are only a few that do or try to do them all. I was disappointed to have missed the Scilly Isles, but my island memories of hospitality, scenery and tranquillity will remain with me. I tried ringing and emailing the company that does the Scilly's run many times but they never returned a call or email.

Guinness World Record

In March this year I was awarded a Guinness World Record for my efforts in going around the coast on a mobility scooter. I covered 12186 miles in 596 days.

My disability...

I have been questioned many times about my disability, without a disability I would have no need of a mobility scooter, my injury was received on the 1st October 1991 and the medical term is "Internal derangement of the right knee with common peroneal nerve palsy", this means I can't feel my right leg below the knee, I also have arthritis creeping through my main joints and reactive depression as a knock on from this.

The trip

The planning for this trip was easier than the trip around the coastal trip, stop somewhere and find the graves and memorial? How wrong could I be! What I thought would be a jaunt through the countryside to a churchyard and the church itself has become a huge data collecting exercise and more!

Some of the grid references used are correct, others may be five hundred metres or even five miles out! Also trying to find, missing, stolen and one council - destroyed memorials has proved nightmarish! As I now send the information back to the IWM I record the the grid reference and the post code of the known memorials, the graves are slightly easier, just the graveyard or cemetery they are in.

One part I've had to struggle through, is checking children's graves, In Tidworth Military Cemetery (still to be added online) was four plus rows of graves of children's graves, instead of a Cap Badges or emblems there were two angels, as the head stones were the same I had to crawl up and down each row reading their names and realising none had reached their fifth birthdays.

Sometimes I see what what one might think as a rather loud and garish gravestone, but then to read that it is for a stillborn or week old baby, it brings a tear to my eye, and still does when I think back...

New memorials and graves are a whole different ball game. I have to complete a four page document for each one, but I'm afraid with everything else going on in a day I just don't have time, I have forwarded all these to the IWM with as much information as I can for the other volunteers to complete.

The graves again the easy side of the coin as it were, I record the basics on my database and that is it for now...

Communicating

One of the biggest problems I have is access to the internet, this has caused me quite a few problems over the last year. Last week one of the websites I look after was taken down because a file or files was dropped on to the website that then started spamming people etc. I had go to my Mother's on Christmas Eve to access the internet and correct the problem, this meant it was three days before I was able to correct the problem.

One of the reasons for me not doing video updates is they take absolutely ages to get them online.

As I look after three websites besides my own and can't provide the level of service I would like I'm going to have to think long and hard about the future of my working with these groups.

Because of the problems with WiFi I'm now going to send all the images for the IWM on DVD at the end of each year, snail mail will be quicker than email...

Good news!

A change of direction has been from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). Mike Jackson who is based in Colchester and lost his son in law, Colour Serjeant Fortuna in 2011 in Afghanistan, has managed to get the the Government to fund the upkeep of the Service graves since WW2. A heartfelt thanks from me.

The post WWII graves are currently maintained by the MoD who sub-contract the work out to local firms but don't give them enough money to do the job properly. Under the new scheme, the CWGC will be given three times as much money as the MoD spent on maintenance. This amounts to a government grant of £2m/year.

People who died between the wars and who are buried in military graves should also have their plots maintained to the highest standards, in future.

There are also graves between WW1 and WW2. that need to be looked after as well, no matter when or where they died. These people died in the service of this country. As I travel I find headstones of those not recorded, possibly not though injury on active service but still serving their country.

One of the strangest I've heard is a Home Guard that drowned (in uniform I believe it was) in Swansea docks after a night out, Military grave etc, another one was in Lancaster, similar sort of thing, military grave, not on the CWGC system though, I come across many like this.

The Cats

They are both fine, Missy still loves to meet people and have a good sniff, Smudge is more than happy when he is on my knee having a tickle! One of the things I've noticed he doesn't like is people on stairs, balconies etc, not sure why?

They are also through to the final round of judging for the Canine section of the Soldier On Awards, the winner will be announced on the evening of the 22nd April. It would be nice if they won.

Facebook and Twitter

I tend to access these using my tablet and apps, these don't show me all the messages or friend requests, I can only apologise in the delays getting back to some of you.

I'll also use these mediums to send out a short update instead of putting one on my website and then on to these.

Q & A's

I get asked lots of questions every day, the usual ones are:

I've also been called:

I've been called many things, virtually all of them nice...

Statistics

Some of the figures from 2015, doesn't include Decembers collections or mileage.

* Not yet on my website

Memorials Done New Memorials Graves Done
854 682* 5088
County Known Mem Mem Done New Mem Known Graves Graves Done
Wiltshire 707 91 91 2745 2864
Devon 1424 404 362 6851 1480
Somerset 962 359 229 3853 * 744
Dorset 1049     1959  
Surrey       12917  

 

2015
Mileage
493.14
465.82
544.29
622.34
471.39
472.66
416.98
337.13
556.84
472.821
361.70
0.00
5215.12

Raised without Gift Aid: £58,984.15

Raised with Gift Aid: £60,250.90

Devon's figures include Plymouth which I haven't done and need to head back to when I do Cornwall. Somerset is a work in progress and will be done a bit at a time at the end of each year.

One of the problems I am facing is the way the IWM and CWGC systems work, the IWM has its memorials listed by current counties, the CWGC has the graves listed by World War Two counties, the following images demonstrates the old and the new for Somerset, Avon and Bristol.

The memorials are marked by a black and yellow circle and grave sites are yellow triangles. The gaps are where I've been.

I have my own database of graves and memorials so I know what I'm looking for, well most of the time. I started by just using the map above roll up at a location and look around for graves and memorials, I started to develop the system to help me better, its not perfect but it works very well.

I now turn up at a location and then look it up on the tablet:

Bridport

Memorials

 

Mem ID

Memorial Title

Place

What

1

1116

Bridport

St Marys Church

Pillar / Column

2

26608

Pte W Butcher

St Marys Church

Battlefield cross or marker

3

26609

Sgt H J Henning

St Marys Church

Cross

4

26610

E C Gent

St Marys Church

Board / Plaque / Tablet

5

26611

Maj H W F B Farrer

St Marys Church

Board / Plaque / Tablet

6

26806

Capt H E Kitcher

St Marys Church

Board / Plaque / Tablet

7

26807

Hms Bridport

St Marys Church

Flag or banner

8

26808

St Marys Church WW1

St Marys Church

Board / Plaque / Tablet

9

55524

M A Sambles

United Church

Board / Plaque / Tablet

10

55525

Lcpl B A Hobbs And Pte W E Hobbs

United Church

Board / Plaque / Tablet

11

55526

United Congregational Church - WW1

United Congreagtional Church

Board / Plaque / Tablet

12

55527

United Congregational Church - WW2

United Congregational Church

Board / Plaque / Tablet

13

55528

St Swithuns Church

St Swithuns Church

Triptych

14

55529

Sgt D W Goodburn

St Swithuns Church

Board / Plaque / Tablet

15

55530

Bridport Burma Star

St Swithuns Church

Board / Plaque / Tablet

16

66467

Unitarian Chapel - WW1

Unitarian Chapel

Board / Plaque / Tablet

Cemeteries/Graveyards

Bridport Cemetery

 

Rank

Name

Regiment/Service

Date of Death

Grave

1

Pte

Leslie Allsop

King's Shropshire Light Infantry

1942-10-03

Row 22. Grave 8.

2

Sgt

Henry Beer

Royal Field Artillery

1916-09-05

M. 99.

3

Gnr

Robert William Carrington

Royal Artillery

1944-05-07

Row 20. Grave 10.

4

Sgt

Joseph Harry Challis

Pioneer Corps

1943-05-18

Row 19. Grave 10.

5

Gnr

John William Challis

Royal Artillery

1941-06-12

Row 22. Grave 9.

6

Pte

Henry Clapp

Devonshire Regiment

1918-05-26

Gen. R. 33.

7

Lt

Peter Wallace Coles

Dorsetshire Regiment

1942-07-28

Row 17. Grave 9.

8

Lt

Cooper

Royal Fusiliers

1918-12-18

Gen. D. 93.

9

Sgt

George Craig

Essex Regiment

1941-08-08

Row 18. Grave 9.

10

Cpl

Douglas Harold Gill

Royal Air Force

1939-09-14

Plot H. Grave 59.

11

Pte

Frederick George Loosemore Hecks

Dorsetshire Regiment

1942-08-02

Row 17. Grave 8.

12

Sgt

Loveless

Royal Field Artillery

1920-08-28

5. 21.

13

Pte

Morey

Somerset Light Infantry

1918-10-27

B. 84 C..

14

LAC

William Hugh Patrick Morey

Royal Air Force

1941-04-01

Row 21. Grave 9.

15

Pte

Thomas James Russell

Essex Regiment

1940-12-06

Row 19. Grave 9.

16

POS

Sargent

Royal Navy

1917-03-18

Gen X. 30.

17

CPO

Smith

Royal Navy

1917-04-15

CD. 41.

18

Pte

Albert David Spiller

Dorsetshire Regiment

1940-07-11

Plot K. Grave 10.

19

LAC

Thomas William Clifford Staples

Royal Air Force

1940-05-18

Plot. B. Grave 19.

20

Petty Officer 1st Class

Stone

Royal Navy

1917-01-09

Gen. YZ. 74.

21

Maj

Temple

Royal Field Artillery

1918-05-15

M.89.

22

Pte

Albert Trevett

Dorsetshire Regiment

1915-06-05

4. 12.

23

Pte

Alfred Brooks Wadham

Australian Infantry, AIF

1916-01-23

Gen. W. 97.

24

Pte

Alfred Joseph Withers

Essex Regiment

1941-01-01

Row 20. Grave 9.


The list above is just for Bridport in Dorset, this only lists the WW1 and WW2 graves, I have to look around for service graves outside these wars.

It is quite amazing just how many memorials are not recorded, they are known locally but not nationally. On a similar vein I do occasionally find a headstone that is not quite right, it states the regiment but the crest is wrong, I'm not sure how I report this yet, I will doubtless find out how...

On the other side of life, I've found some celebrities as I travel over the last year, Florence Nightingale, Linda Bellingham, Lady Byron, Mrs Churchill, Lady Nelson and a Royal Astronomer from the 1700's! I mix in the best circles and am happy to name drop if you would like, it may fall on deaf ears though...

One of the few frustrations of the trip is the locked churches, I can only guess/surmise that it is to the thefts of the metal from them, well most, I was told when I got to Buckfastleigh, I went there years ago with my wife and children, well the railway not the church, that church was burnt to the ground by Pagans and other than the memorial in the churchyard all were lost! I've not seen any evidence of this but you never know...

Another problem I've hit is the Lifeboat side, I've found two memorials so far, Salcombe and Mumbles, I've also found some graves in Oystermouth cemetery, I have no information about any of these, if you do, could you possibly let me know please?

My database at the moment looks like this, there are duplicates and a lot missing and they will be sorted out as I go.

Conflict Died
Non combat deaths 474
Boer War 1898 - 1902 0
The Great War 1914-1918 165092
Palestine Emergency 1918-1948 0
World War Two 1939-1945 243451
Malayan Emergency 1948-1960 0
Korea 1951 - 1952 0
Cyprus 0
Aden 1957 - 1967 0
Northern Ireland 1969 - 2008 17
Falkands 1
Kuwait 1990 - 1991 0
Bosnia 1
Afghanistan 2001 - 2014 5
Iraq 2003 - 2008 5
   
Nationalitites Died
United States of America 23
Australia 7798
Austria 40
Belgium 314
Canada 12779
China 0
Czechoslovakia 87
Holland 482
Fiji 2
Finland 2
France 15
Germany 6051
India 313
Italy 515
New Zealand 2432
Norway 143
Poland 2295
Portugal 12
Russia 31
South Africa 706
Southern Rhodesia 161

The images of the graves and memorials I've managed to get online so far are at www.war-graves.co.uk

 

 

Fundraising on behalf of...

© Mark Newton 2017