First World War memorial tour of Tewkesbury - Kathryn's history blog

Friday, 17 February 2017

First World War memorial tour of Tewkesbury

The north Gloucestershire town of Tewkesbury has been a centre of worship since the 7th century and home to a Benedictine monastery from the 10th century, during which time the Norman construction of the Abbey was begun. By the time of the First World War, the town had a population of 13,000 with the majority of men employed in agriculture and rural industry.
Image result for tewkesbury postcard
Tewkesbury Abbey, c.1900s (source)
Tewkesbury Town War Memorial
It now forms the roundabout between Church Street and High Street in the town centre
The town war memorial was unveiled in 1922 and takes the form of a stone cross which bears the names of the 152 fallen soldiers on metal plaques around the base. An additional plaque of 30 names was added after the Second World War and one further name added from the Northern Ireland Troubles. The limestone has eroded over the last century but is carved to read 'To the men of Tewkesbury who gave their lives for us in the Great War, 1914-1919' around the plinth.

Walking south on Church Street, you will come to the Abbey. Enter through the main black gates and there is a calvary on your right inside the churchyard.

Cartland Family Calvary
James 'Bertie' Cartland (source)
This memorial was built after the First World War to the memory of James Bertram Falkner Cartland, a Major in the Worcestershire Regiment. After an education at Charterhouse, he served as a Captain to the Worcesters, 1897-1903, but was remobilised after the outbreak of the Great War. After serving in GHQ, he then led 10th Worcesters through the Battle of Messines and the Battle of Cambrai in 1917. He died on the first day of the German Offensive on the Aisne, the 27th May 1918, and his memorial records that he fell near Berry-au-Bac. He is remembered on the Commonwealth War Graves' Soissons Memorial. His epitaph on this calvary reads 'Loves strength and standeth in loves sacrifice' and is the penultimate line of Harriet Eleanor Hamilton-King's poem 'Ugo Bassi's Sermons' as part of 'The Disciples' (1878). The final line reads poignantly 'And whoso suffers most hath most to give...'.

Walk clockwise around the memorial. The rest of the names are quite faded but are still just about legible. 
Following the Second World War, inscriptions were added to the memory of Cartland's two sons who both died in 1940. John Ronald Hamilton Cartland was his elder son, born in 1907, who was in the 10th Worcester Yeomanry in the Territorial Army. From 1935, he served as the Conservative MP for King's Norton, despite his opposition to both Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain. He made a notable speech on 3rd August 1939 when he accused Prime Minister Chamberlain of holding 'ideas of dictatorship'.
Following the outbreak of war the following month, he was mobilised to the 53rd Anti-Tank Regiment, Royal Artillery. He was killed on 30th May, 1940 when in command of an anti-tank defence at Cassel, protecting the British retreat from Dunkirk. His patriotic epitaph comes from William Blake's 'Jerusalem' and reads 'I will not cease from mental fight nor shall my sword sleep in my hand'.

The most recent addition to the memorial is Mary Hamilton Cartland (nee Scobell), the wife of James. As well as their two sons, the couple also had two daughters, one of whom died in childhood and the other was the romance novelist Barbara Cartland. Mary was known as Polly and lived for much of her life in Malvern until her death in 1976, aged 98. I believe her epitaph is 'courage never to submit or yield; and what else is not to be overcome?' from John Milton's 'Paradise Lost'.

James Anthony Hamilton Cartland, the younger of the two sons, was a Captain in the Lincolnshire Regiment. He was killed aged 27, on 29th May 1940, just one day before his elder brother. He was killed in action as German forces captured the city of Ypres in Belgium. His epitaph of 'I will surrender only unto God' has no direct citation, but is indicative of the family's Christian faith, just as the crucifixion on the memorial also shows.

Return to the path and walk into the Abbey. This tour walks anti-clockwise around the interior so proceed to the war memorial altar on the far wall.
Tewkesbury Abbey War Memorial
This memorial covers most, if not all, of the men on the town memorial and the two memorials appear to have been built in parallel. It is particularly interesting that an altar forms part of this memorial, encouraging prayer in memory of the fallen soldiers. The altar rail is carved with the Tennyson quote 'More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of'.
Among the men remembered are:


(The above all come from the Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucester Gazette [source])

To the right of the memorial is a wooden cross.
Gunner W Roberts' War Graves Cross
This is the original cross placed at Walter Roberts' grave near Ypres, following his death on 2nd July 1918. When it was replaced with a stone Imperial War Graves headstone after the war, his wooden cross was returned to the UK. The brass plaque states that his widow had it placed in the abbey to commemorate the fifth anniversary of his death in 1923.

To the left of the memorial is a large framed poster.
Tewkesbury Roll of Honour
This roll, dedicated to the men who 'freely offered themselves' for the sacrifices of war, remembers all those from Tewkesbury who volunteered for military service between 1914 and 1916. This is a significant record as it remembers men for their service, rather than just those who died in the war. Those from the list who were killed, have a cross and 'RIP' written next to their name.

Surrounding the memorial is a number of flags. The Union Jack was donated to the Abbey in memory of its Choir Boys who died in the war and the French Tricolore and American Stars and Stripes are also donations made in 1918.

Turn left and proceed along the south wall of the nave to the far corner.


Memorial to TH Moore and LW Moore
Brothers Thomas Harold and Lionel Watson Moore were both lieutenants in the 5th battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment and natives of Tewkesbury.
Thomas was the elder of the brothers and died in Hebuterne on the Somme on 26th September 1915 when he was leading a patrol with 14 men across No Man's Land at 11pm to see if the Germans had evacuated their front line. They soon found that they hadn't as they were met by a German patrol. The Glosters managed to shoot three of the Germans before their own Lance Corporal Rodway was shot and they had to retreat. Thomas and Corporal Jackson were carrying Rodway away when Moore was also shot. He was initially buried in Puisieux Churchyard before being moved to Serre Road no. 1 Cemetery.

Lionel, ten years Thomas' junior, went on to fight in the Battle of the Somme. Charged with the command of B Company, he died in an attack in the battle of Pozieres on 27th August. The attack was a success, capturing the German front line and in the process killing 200 and capturing a machine gun. However, 17 Glosters were killed and 11 missing in the assault. Lionel was among them, his body lost in battle. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Once you've finished looking round the abbey, leave through the main doors and return to the black and gold gate through which you entered. Follow Gloucester Road round to the left until you come to the town cemetery on your left. 
Tewkesbury Cemetery
Turn right, passing the Second World War graves, and turn left up the next path. The First World War graves are spread around on your right.
Pte AJE Parsons
Albert Parsons served with the Machine Gun Corps during the war. He died in 1919 so it is likely to have been as a result of injury or illness contracted during the war.
Pte TC Underwood
Thomas Underwood

Thomas Charles Underwood was an older soldier, who served with the 13th battalion, Glosters. He died from pneumonia in hospital in Malvern, near where the Glosters were training prior to going to the Western Front. He had a wife, Sylvia, and six children.
EW Simons
Ernest Williams had joined the Royal Navy in 1913 aged 15. He was just 5'1" tall, with brown hair and blue eyes. He worked his way up from Boy 2nd Class to be a signal boy with HMS Vivid by late 1915, which was based at Plymouth naval yard. He died on 1st February 1916 from a combination of measles, bronchitis and pneumonia. As he died in the UK, his body was returned to his family who resided at Post Office Lane, Tewkesbury for burial.
Pte FW Taylor
Frederick William Taylor served with the Army Service Corps, the unit responsible for getting supplies such as food and ammunition from Britain to the Front line. Those who served in the ASC (later RASC) ranks would often have been of a lower medical grade and therefore not considered fit for front line duty. ASC men would often be glasses wearers, asthmatics, or would walk with a limp. Although the ASC predominantly served away from the heavy guns of the trenches, they were still susceptible to illness or other injury and it is likely from one of these that Taylor died.
Worker KR Sollis
Kathleen Rose Sollis was a female war worker, serving in Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. Women joined the Auxiliary Corps from 1917 to serve on the Western Front, doing cookery, clerical, and some mechanical work in order to free up more men for active duty. Although they were held back in relative safety, they too were at risk of illness and accidental injury. It is estimated that 83 Auxiliary women died in the war, Sollis among them. She was aged 20 at her death, a resident of Tewkesbury all her life.
Pte FJ Woolcott
Frederick James Woolcott's name doesn't appear on the roll of honour in the Abbey which suggests that he was conscripted to join 1st battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment in 1916. Towards the end (or shortly after) the war he was transferred to the Labour Corps and he died in 1920, aged 42. His name looks as though it has been added to the bottom section of the Abbey war memorial, suggesting that he died after the list of names had already been compiled.
Pte HS Thompson
Harry Sidney Thompson also died in 1920. He had enlisted in the first week of the war, joining the 1st battalion. He served overseas but was to return at the end of 1915, having contracted a sickness which left him 'unfit for service'. It seems that he suffered from the illness for the following five years before his death. The epitaph on his headstone reads 'Make him to be numbered with thy saints in glory everlasting', from the hymn Te Deum. His name was added to the memorial next to Woolcott's.
Gnr H Knight
Another of the men to die in 1920 was Henry Knight, who was just 19 at his death. Little seems known of his service and he doesn't appear on the Abbey war memorial. His mother, Emily, added an epitaph to his grave from Thomas Campbell's poem 'Hallowed Ground', which reads 'To live in the hearts of those we love is not to die'.
Pte A Hooper
A Hooper can't be traced through the census records for Tewkesbury and little information is given about his death. His headstone is a recent marble replacement by CWGC; the original Portland one must have become damaged.
Frank Hale
Lieut FE Hale
Frank Ernest Hale is remembered on his family's grave in the cemetery although his body is actually buried in Bucquoy in France. He was killed while on service with the King's Royal Rifle Corps in the 100 Days Campaign which led to the Armistice. Fighting must have been heavy in this area when Hale died as he is one of 68 men all buried within a five day period in August 1918. He had been shot in the head with a bullet, dying instantly.

If you walk out of the gate ahead of you, you can walk back across The Vineyards park to the Abbey.

Kathryn

PS. Please get in touch if you'd like to know more about any of the soldiers from Tewkesbury or if you have any information you'd like to offer.

3 comments:

  1. The Cartland Calvary was erected after WWII and all the inscriptions for the gentlemen were inscribed at the same time.Its a concrete base as was normal at the time but such become illegible quite quickly. The epitaph for James the younger son, 'I will surrender only to God' were actually his answer to the Germans when they asked him to surrender

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  2. Thanks for your informative blog, I know of at least 3 more war memorials in the town, but trying to tie in names to records is a different story altogether. Your blogpost helped a lot

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  3. Great information. I just read through the entire content. I'm also impressed. Waiting for a more new post. Keep Blogging Black Friday Laptop

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