TO REMEMBER LEST WE FORGET
It’s been some years since I attended our local Service of Remembrance at Horsforth Cenotaph and things have moved on quite considerably.
All round the country there are commemorations this year to honour those hundreds of thousands of men and women killed during the First World War. They range from the now very well-known, much-visited and publicised “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” [the ‘evolving installation marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies progressively fill the Tower’s famous moat’] (here is what Lynne – alias Dovegreyreader – wrote about her visit to the Tower) to our very own local WW1 trail along the main thoroughfare of Horsforth near Leeds.
My neighbour and I followed the trail last Tuesday and on Saturday I visited the related Exhibition in the local church hall. Somehow even though I have lived here much longer than I ever lived in Norwich I don’t feel as attached to Horsforth as I do to the place where I grew up.
“212 are named on the brass panels the men and one woman who died in the first world war . It cost £720 and was unveiled by The Lord of the Manor Montague Spencer-Stanhope on Saturday 11th March 1922. The lectern in front was built in 1953 to honour the men from Horsforth who died in World War II.”
However, the trail and boards are very well done and tell some very sad tales and, interestingly, one woman is commemorated which, I believe, was unusual for the time.
Nurse Florence Hogg
“Serving as a nurse didn’t make a woman immune from the effects of war. Florence Hogg, who worked at Horsforth Laundry, died of the ‘flu that she caught at Berrington War Hospital in Shrewsbury from a soldier, wounded at the Front. The following month it killed her mother too. The ‘flu virus killed over 20 million in 1918 and 1919 – even more than died in the war itself.”
Florence Hogg’s Commonwealth War Grave in Horsforth Cemetery
“We know of six Horsforth men who were in the Gallipoli Campaign, three of whom were killed. Professional sailor, 25 year old Percival Rodgers was killed aboard a submarine that was torpedoed. Another regular, James Swailes, was shot in the head by a sniper. The third man from Horsforth who died was 39 year old, Harry Taylor, who emigrated to Australia in 1898 and served with the Australian army.“
James Swailes killed in the Gallipoli Campaign
In addition to further information boards and displays of medals and other artefacts from the First World War at the Exhibition we were able to watch a half hour documentary programme recorded for TV and published on 1 Oct this year.
“This documentary film travels around the Ypres (Ieper) area of Belgium looking at locations that Yorkshire troops were involved in. Geoff Druett is taken around by an official tour guide. They set-off in the square in front of Ypres Cloth Hall, go to Essex Farm and learn about John McCrae’s “In Flanders Field” poem; cross the Yser Canaal to the Yorkshire Trench. Across town they wander around Hill 60 and visit Tyne Cot. Back in Ypres, Geoff visits the English Memorial Church and the film ends with the nightly ceremony at the Menin Gate.
Music : “World War I In Poetry And Music” by David Moore, John McCormack, Robert Donat, Siegfried Sassoon”
IN FLANDERS FIELDS POEM
The World’s Most Famous WAR MEMORIAL POEM
By Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!
Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields
Composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium
Watching today’s commemorations of The 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings on BBC TV I’m reminded of my own holiday in Normandy in 2006.
We stayed for one week at Le Clos Normand right on the beach at St Aubin Sur Mer. In June 1944 the beach at St Aubin served as Juno; a Canadian landing beach.
The beach St Aubin Sur Mer
Canadian Memorial, St Aubin Sur Mer (Juno Beach)
On the first day we were driving along the road that hugs the French coast noticing signs to Commonwealth War Graves and talking about my father-in-law who served in The Green Howards Yorkshire Regiment (he actually served in the North Africa Campaign and was later a prisoner-of-war in Austria) when out of the blue we saw a small signpost indicating “Green Howards Memorial”.
Of course, we turned the car round and headed up the lane to the small village of Crepon. There on a bend of the road – no one could miss it – was the Green Howards Memorial. We learned that Green Howards were two of the first battalions to land at Gold Beach on June 6 1944. Read more about this day here.
“When night fell on D-Day, the Green Howards were as far forward as any British troops.” But sadly they suffered many casualties, of course.
Memorial unveiled by King Harald of Norway 26 October 1996
We noticed there were lights around the area and went back on at least one evening to see the beautifully floodlit memorial to these brave young Green Howards.
“Remember the 6 June 1944”
A Dead Statesman
I could not dig; I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?
After last year’s “Remembrance” post about the life and death of and memorials to Norfolk heroine Nurse Edith Cavell I decided to carry out some research of my own. I chose to follow the life to death of a young man born in Norfolk who died on the battlefield far away on the Turkish Gallipoli Peninsula. I managed to visit several of his Memorials in England and maybe one day will visit Gallipoli itself. 2015 will be a big year for visitors to the area to pay their respects. The significance of the Gallipoli Campaign is felt strongly in both New Zealand and Australia. ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day (25 April) is commemorated annually by both countries.
Private Howman in a letter home :
[… we get a lot of prisoners & rioting sometimes there are hundreds of Australians & New Zealanders wounded here from The Dardanelles. its a terrible sight to see them maimed for life you would not think it possible how some of them could live …]
Marshall Howman was born in June 1887 in Whitlingham, just south of Norwich. He was the eldest child of Mark and Celia. Mark was a herdsman and Celia was in service at ‘the big house’ wherever they moved to and the family did move around the country. By 1901 Marshall and his parents were living at Stenigot in Lincolnshire with additional sisters and brother : Lena (born in 1891), Hilda (in 1894), Maxwell (in 1895) and Kathleen (Kit or Kitty) who was born in Cheadle [Staffs] in January 1900. Later, in a letter home Marshall tells his family that he ‘came across an old pal I went to Cheadle School with he is in the 6th Manchesters back from the Dardenelles.’
By 1911 when Marshall was 24 he had three further siblings, born at Strensham in Worcestershire where his family had been living for several years : Ruth (born in 1903), Mabel (in 1906) and Norman (in 1910). By this time, although Marshall was still living at home (and adored certainly by his little sister Kit then aged 11), Lena (aged 20) was already making her own way and living in London as a domestic servant in the Mumford Family home in Westbourne Park Crescent, Paddington.
Strensham and its War Memorial
© Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Next year will see the Centenary of The First World War; the, so-called, “war to end all wars”. When Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914 Marshall (then 27) and his parents and most of the rest of his siblings were living in Corner Cottage, Strensham in Worcestershire. At some point very soon after; Marshall volunteered to join the Worcestershire Yeomanry The Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars. He was assigned to No. 2 Troop, D Squadron.
The 1st Worcestershire Yeomanry was mobilised in Worcester on August 4, 1914 as part of the 1st South Midland Mounted Brigade. On August 11 the regiment moved to Warwick, with the rest of the brigade and on August 14 the brigade proceeded to Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk. The brigade moved to Newbury, Berkshire, on August 30, where it joined the 2nd Mounted Division. On November 17 the regiment and the rest of the division moved to Barningham, Norfolk, then on to Kings Lynn. Mention here of King’s Lynn and Norfolk reminds me of :
The 1999 BBC film “All the King’s Men” tells the story of the men of the Sandringham Estate who signed up in 1914 and fought in the Gallipoli Campaign
On the reverse of a picture postcard of Bristol dated 9 April 1915 Marshall tells his family that he’s due to sail at midnight from Avonmouth :
In fact the records state that it was on April 11, 1915 that the regiment sailed for Egypt from Avonmouth, Gloucestershire, on H.M. Transport Saturnia, arriving in Alexandria on April 24.
After disembarking the regiment went into camp at Chatby, near Alexandria. Here is a letter dated 6 June from Kom el Dik Fort and another dated 13 June (his birthday was in June) from Chatby Camp, Alexandria. In civilian life Marshall had been an assistant herdsman and he seems happy to have charge of horses at the Camp.
His letters home show that he had neat, clear handwriting and a very nice turn of phrase reflecting a reasonably good standard of education for an assistant herdsman a century ago. He was a loving and caring brother and son.
However, when the regiment was notified that it would be going on active service on August 10 its horses would be left behind. This must have been a blow for Marshall. On August 14 the regiment – 366 men strong – embarked for Gallipoli on H.M. Transport Ascania. On August 17 the transport arrived at the Greek island of Lemnos, and there the men transferred to the H.M.S. Doris. The following day (August 18), the regiment landed at “A” Beach, Suvla, under shellfire.
Here is what happened on 21st August 1915 :
“The 29th Division assaults 112 Metre Hill and Scimitar Hill, and 11th (Northern) Division assaults Green Hill and the “W” Hills in the Suvla sector, with the 2nd Mounted Division and the 10th (Irish) Division in reserve, out of sight of the Turks. The intention is to capture Scimitar Hill and to proceed on, if possible, and ultimately is to capture these positions, and thus protect the units scattered across the Suvla Plain from Turkish shellfire. At 3:30 p.m., after the failure of the 29th and 11th Divisions to take their objectives (due to strong Turkish defences, lack of adequate artillery support, lack of proper orders and lack of rest) the Worcestershire Yeomanry, along with the rest of the 2nd Mounted Division and the 10th (Irish) Division, is detailed to proceed against the original objectives. The assault is organized in five waves, each wave consisting of one of the five mounted brigades and spaced 200 yards apart. The Worcestershire Yeomanry, along with the rest of the division, moves off across the Salt Lake, under fire from Turkish artillery (the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars advancing behind the Worcestershire Yeomanry). Halfway across the Lake orders are given to advance at the double. Due both to Turkish resistance and confusion, the regiment is able to advance only as far as the line held by the 29th Division. The regiment digs in on Green Hill, but at 2 a.m. on August 22, it is ordered to retire to Lala Baba. No ground is gained in the assault.” [Information from The Gallipoli Association]
The regiment reported 26 men killed and wounded in the assault, though only two fatalities were known to have occurred. One of these was Private Marshall HOWMAN, No.2613, aged 28. He was killed in action in the assault on Chocolate Hill, Suvla, on August 21, 1915. His name is commemorated on Panel 19 of the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Peninsula.
Marshall listed on the Helles Memorial [Photo kindly supplied by Keith Edmonds of The Gallipoli Association]
The Helles Memorial 2013 [Photo kindly supplied by Keith Edmonds of The Gallipoli Association]
Back home Marshall’s family were devastated. Marshall’s name was eventually listed on the wall-mounted Honours Board in St George’s Chapel at Worcester Cathedral and was inscribed in the Roll of Honour there.
St George’s Chapel, Worcester Cathedral. The Honours Board hangs below the flags.
Marshall’s name on the Honours Board
Marshall listed in the Worcestershire Regimental Roll of Honour Book described below
He is also listed on the Honours Board in St John’s Church, Strensham :
Original War Memorial in Strensham
More recently his name, and those of the others who fell in both World Wars, has been inscribed on the War Memorial in the village of Strensham itself.
Names recently added to the Strensham Memorial including Pt M. Howman
Marshall’s parents soon returned to Norfolk. There had been mention of their going in the letters between Marshall and his mother. Towards the end of the decade they paid for this memorial to him in the churchyard of St Andrew’s, Trowse-by-Norwich.
Trowse churchyard memorial now overgrown, weather-beaten and almost forgotten
[In Loving Memory of MARSHALL the dearly loved son of Celia and Mark Howman. There was more but sadly the rest of the text has disintegrated]
MARSHALL HOWMAN was my Great Uncle and KIT (KATHLEEN) was my Grandmother.
I have memories of Gran telling me about her beloved brother Marshall and her pride in the memorials to him in both Norfolk and Worcestershire. I have a number of Marshall’s original letters but sadly no photograph has materialised.
I’m extremely grateful to the following for information and inspiration. My sister Kathy for her research into the broader Howman family. My friend Ann and her husband who have been to Gallipoli and lent me books and sent me links on researching military records and helped in many other ways. My three contacts at The Gallipoli Association who provided me with material about the Worcestershire Yeomanry’s movements and Marshall’s final days; thank you Stephen, Keith and Mal.
“We have done that which was our duty to do”
[St. Luke XVII.10]
Photograph of Nurse Edith Cavell displayed in St Mary’s Church, Swardeston
Growing up in Norwich I have always known about Edith Cavell our local Norfolk heroine of the First World War. My school bus passed by the Memorial to her located outside the Erpingham Gate at Norwich Cathedral, her grave lies within the Cathedral precincts and we had a school house called ‘Cavell’.
The Norwich Memorial to Edith Cavell
Born at Swardeston House in 1865 the family of the Reverend Frederick Cavell moved the following year in to the new Swardeston Vicarage which Edith’s father had paid to have built on land next to his parish church of St Mary the Virgin.
St Mary’s Church, Swardeston
Swardeston Vicarage Today
It was here that Edith Cavell spent her early days. You can read much more about her early life, interests, education and travels here.
Edith Cavell in 1910 with her two adopted stray dogs Jack and Don (photo in Swardeston Church)
She had worked in Brussels, become fluent in French and later trained as a nurse working at times in both London and Brussels. She later turned to nurse training and such was her attachment to Belgium that when she heard of the invasion of Belgium by the Germans in 1914 she returned to that country and was already nursing there when Britain declared war on Germany on 3rd August 1914.
To Edith all men were equal and to be treated so at her hospital. She not only treated and nursed German and Belgian soldiers she later became involved in assisting British soldiers who were wounded and cut off from their retreating army beyond the front line.
“Edith also faced a moral dilemma. As a ‘protected’ member of the Red Cross, she should have remained aloof. But like Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the next war, she was prepared to sacrifice her conscience for the sake of her fellow men. To her, the protection, the concealment and the smuggling away of hunted men was as humanitarian an act as the tending of the sick and wounded. Edith was prepared to face what she understood to be the just consequences.” (Edith Cavell website)
Plaque attached to a house in Ghent (Courtesy RB)
In August 1915 Edith was interned and the date for her execution as a collaborator was set as 12 October 1915. The evening before the English chaplain Stirling Gahan was allowed to visit her in her prison cell. There she received Holy Communion and they recited the words of the hymn Abide With Me together. This is what she said to him :
“I am thankful to have had these ten weeks of quiet to get ready. Now I have had them and have been kindly treated here. I expected my sentence and I believe it was just. Standing as I do in view of God and Eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone”.
Despite Spanish and American attempts at intervention she was shot at dawn on Tuesday 12 October 1915.
Edith Cavell’s Grave at Life’s Green
After the War, in 1919, Edith Cavell’s body was returned to England and a funeral service was held at Westminster Abbey on 15 May. A special train brought her remains to Norwich station from where she was buried in a spot called Life’s Green in the grounds of Norwich Cathedral. Ironically, her coffin was carried on a gun carriage!
Books and Film
YouTube film Edith Cavell (1939) starring Anna Neagle
Friends Lynne and Lyn have both written eloquently about a recent biography of Edith Cavell by Diana Souhami. I heard Souhami speak in London about the biography and I’ve read it myself but I refer you to their superior reviews.
Lyn also read and reviewed a novel about Nurse Cavell Fatal Decision by Terri Arthur.
Other Memorials to Edith Cavell
Edith Cavell Window at Swardeston Church
War Memorial at Swardeston, Norfolk
Statue erected in honour of Edith Cavell near Trafalgar Square, London.
Today a Service of Remembrance was held at The Royal Armouries in Leeds. The Regimental Standards were presented and after The Last Post, the Two Minutes Silence and The Reveille the names of the British servicemen and women from Yorkshire and The Yorkshire Regiment to fall in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the names of all the fallen from The Prince of Wales’s Own Regiment of Yorkshire since 1966 were read. At the same time wreaths were laid and poppies floated down from the galleries above the main atrium where the service was held.
Ode to Remembrance
from For The Fallen by Lawrence Binyon
They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them
We will remember them