Woodchester Great War Exhibition and Great War Walk
This is Barbara Warnes in the Stroud News in 2014: ‘At least 174 villagers were involved…in some capacity… The names of those who died are publicly and visibly recorded, but those who survived are harder to track down. As well as soldiers, sailors and airmen, these include munitions workers, Red Cross volunteers and men in the volunteer force.’
‘The exhibition is not just about a few people who achieved fame but about the many who followed orders and left little trace behind… For example, in this parish alone we have a headmaster who died at the Battle of the Somme after winning the Military Medal, unsung heroes who volunteered but were turned back, several monks from the Dominican Priory who went to the front as Chaplains, two soldiers awarded the Victoria Cross, and a Red Cross volunteer who was awarded a Silver War badge.’
It came upon a midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
When angels bent down to the earth,
And changed machine guns into harps,
And turned leaden bullets into golden carols
That drifted across no man’s land,
And choirs of soldiers joined the angels
In a cease-fire of exultation,
While all the bloodied uniformed citizens
Of heaven above watched as silent knights,
As helmets and caps and whisky and schnapps
Were passed from frozen side to frozen side,
When a Tommy kicked a football up into the air,
And there it stayed, suspended high up in the sky,
Shining for ever in a continent’s memory;
A star of peace in a bleak midwinter’s century.
There, on the one hand, St. Pancras and Paris;
And there, on the other, Kings Cross:
Gateway to the LNER,
And night mails crossing the border,
And gateway to a world we have lost:
Pit heads and winding gear, tram-roads and collieries,
And curling smoke chimney stacks:
The world of the North,
The canvas telling the truth,
Up there in the Mining Art Gallery,
At Bishop Auckland:
A terrible beauty down there in the dark depths,
And a beautiful harmony up there in the streets
And homes and chapels and clubs and pubs:
The stippled mist-light of the pit village,
The twisted sinews in the eighteen inch seam,
Ears keening with the creak of each pit prop,
The mind tracking the echo of dripping water,
And the whisper of each rock –
Each little river has a tale which, if understood, cannot fail
To edify the Human heart; mine’s of Lovers who’d not part:
Both loved Nature, read her runes and worshipped countless harvest moons.
He, a Minchinhampton Man – she the lanes of Burleigh ran,
Eager, passionate, enthralled to embrace her Archibald.
The stream that gushes into town on Hazel Woods, as hail, crashed down.
High on that ridge where sheep are shorn, a tiny rivulet was born.
It seeped through soil and chiselled stone, caressing sea-spawned Cotswold bone.
A weave of light like soft silk shook became a dancing, babbling brook.
Through Gatcombe Park the waters curled, then through its stately gardens swirled
To trace a spiral as they whirled past Longfords Mill.
What makes People love history?
So that it becomes a passion,
Not a subject, nor hobby, nor interest,
Not a diversion, nor a pastime,
But a consuming passion instead.
I started to read the virtual edition
Of the History Workshop Journal,
A compendium of contributors
And historians, who recounted
The reasons, recollections, emotions,
And afternoon madeleine moments,
That all conspired, to conjure forth
A love of the study of the past:
A Passion for History.
I’ve added my own, too;
I wonder which of these apply to you?
For example …read more
It started with a glance out of the bus,
A blood red disc of a sandstorm sun,
It was ten past ten.
The light numinous rather than luminous,
As we opened the door to leave Bisley church,
Emigrant-ghosts waiting for the Bristol cart,
And a six week voyage to New South Wales.
It was twenty to eleven.
We walked through deep, shadowed holloways,
Walking the Bisley Path,
High above the valley marshlands,
Through woodland shrouded in the strange glow
Of another world’s grey-green light,
The harbinger of Hurricane Ophelia,
The wind now shrieking through the creaking trees,
Leaves falling like some autumn snowstorm.
On the surface, it all seems quite equal,
The Great War cemeteries and gravestones:
Identical – uniform – symbolic –
Equality of sacrifice in death;
But a different story lies beneath:
Officers: seasoned wood for their coffins,
And lids that were carefully screwed down;
Men and other ranks: had unseasoned wood,
And lids that were brusquely nailed and hammered;
1918 saw the vote given to some women –
But not the canary girls and phossie jaws,
They had to wait another ten years –
But also some five and a half million men:
Only 60% of males had the vote
When war broke out for King and Country.