Good evening and welcome to the October meeting. I am pleased to welcome Rob Thompson back to the Branch. Rob’s talks have always been interesting and informative, but also on the general logistic aspect to the war which is often overlooked.
Tonight’s talk is a prime example of a subject that even regular listeners may have little knowledge. Many people can relate fairly readily to battalions and divisions, usually because of their association with a particular town, region or body of men. However, the Brigade often appears as a somewhat iniquitous structure. Its composition of various battalions could sometimes appear nebulous. Nevertheless, in battle its staff had a difficult task. I am sure Rob, in his own inimitable style, will treat us to a comprehensive analysis of its working.
Terry Jackson, Chairman.
Last Month’s Talk
Although speaker Mike Coyle’s talk was primarily based on memorials from his home town of Blackpool and the surrounding areas, the issues raised concerning the vulnerability of war memorials are applicable to the country as a whole.
Like many Great War students, it was the fate of a personal relative that triggered his interest. His great uncle had been killed at Arras in 1917, but had hitherto been unknown to the family. Mike discovered that his uncle appeared on six memorials.
A war memorial commemorates any conflict in which men or women were killed. Memorials can take various forms and are not restricted to a plaque or column usually containing a list of the fallen.
Prior to the Boer War soldiers lost were forgotten, but since the Great War they have become part of not only our remembrance, but also our heritage. Unfortunately as there is no central body responsible for their safekeeping or for their recording, over the passage of time many have been lost. It is estimated that 3,100 war memorials have been lost. This figure only includes those that were known to have been in existence. There may be many which were never recorded which have also gone.
Mike illustrated his talk with a number of case studies. He had discovered many memorials hidden away, some under floorboards of buildings and others being held by people for the possibility of selling them on at a profit.
Some of the cases were heart-breaking with pictures of memorials broken or used inappropriately as a ‘fashion statement’ or collectable.
This was a sombre reminder of the danger to the history of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us and it is essential that we ensure their sacred nature remains intact. Terry
The Redoubt was central to the German defence in the Somme and was taken briefly by the 36th Ulster Division in July, being immediately recaptured in a German counter-attack. Between July and October it was attacked six times without success as the position always succumbed to the German counter attacks. But Riddell won the case for massive artillery and air support based on lessons learned from the mistakes of other failed assaults.
Shelling of the Schwaben Redoubt
Free talk: Battle of the Somme: New Technologies
Monday 24 October at 3.15pm
In a series of monthly talks marking the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, discover details of real life stories and explore the new technologies in use during the time of this landmark battle and the scientific advancements linked with these events. Join IWM’s First World War Project Manager Charlotte Czyzyk and hear the testimony of Alfred Reiffer, who served with one of the first tank crews during the battle. These stories are amongst millions which are being remembered on , IWM’s permanent digital memorial.
Last week Ann and I made one of our regular visits to the Northern Chamber Orchestra at Macclesfield. The main work was Beethoven’s violin concerto, magnificently played by Chloë Hanslip.
One of the other works was ‘The Banks of Green Willow’ by the English Composer George Butterworth. He was born in Paddington in 1885, but moved to Yorkshire, where his father ultimately became general manager of the North Eastern Railway.
After attending Eton and Trinity College Oxford, George entered the music profession. He worked with Ralph Vaughan Williams collecting English folk songs and the piece was composed in 1913. Butterworth enlisted on the outbreak of war and eventually became a lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry. On 5th August 1916, when his unit were near Munster Alley, he was killed by a sniper. He was temporarily buried in Butterworth Trench, which had been dug as an advanced fortification. His men intended to reinter him later. Unfortunately, his grave was destroyed by shellfire and his body never recovered. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. He was aged 31.
Prior to his death he had been recommended for the Military Cross, which he was ultimately awarded.
As ever, articles and notices for the newsletter or website to Terry, by 4th Novemebr for inclusion in the next newsletter