Commemorations

A Bristol City and Walter Tull Declamation

Let the living answer the roll call of the dead:
Walter Tull of Spurs and Northampton Town KIA 1918;

And now the names of the Robins:

Edmund Burton KIA 1917
Allen Foster KIA 1916
Henry Gildea KIA 1917
James Stevenson 1916
Thomas Ware KIA 1915

Names from another century come back to haunt us:
Edmund, Allen, Henry, James, Thomas,
Names once shouted over a football pitch,
‘Give it to James’,
‘Over here, Allen,
‘Shoot, Henry’;

The imperatives of a football team
Replaced by new orders in khaki, with
Night patrols, barbed wire and machine guns;
Muddied football boots forgotten
In the trench foot fields of Flanders;
The clamour from the ground and stands
No match for whizz bangs, mortars and howitzers;
The fogs of a November match,
Innocent memories in a gas attack:

Read More

A Tottenham Hotspur and Walter Tull Declamation

Let the living answer the roll call of the dead:
Walter Tull of Spurs and Northampton Town KIA 1918;

And now the names of other Spurs:

George Badenoch 1915
Jim Chalmers 1915
John Fleming 1916
Frederick Griffiths 1917
Alan Haig-Brown 1918
John Hebdon 1917
Alf Hobday 1915
John Jarvie 1916
Edward Lightfoot 1918
William Lloyd 1914
Alexander MacGregor
William Weir 1918
Archibald Wilson 1916
Norman Wood 1916

Names from another century come back to haunt us:
George, John, Jim, Fred, Edward, William, Archie,
Names once shouted over a football pitch,
‘Give it to Walter’,
‘Over here, Freddie,
‘Shoot, Archie’;

read more

Walter Tull and Captain Cobham-Smith

Even though Walter Tull’s body (and his diary) was never recovered, a fascinating document has recently come to public notice that sheds light on Walter’s life and ancestry.
It was found in the journal of Captain Cobham-Smith of Little Withens, Hampshire. This journal had lain in a cabinet drawer until house clearance on the death of his daughter, and only child, Lucia Cobham-Smith.

To Posterity
Last night, I had the great honour to share an hour with Lieutenant Walter Tull – an extraordinary fellow – who showed me a deeply personal manuscript that he keeps folded in his diary. This note reveals that Walter is an even more remarkable fellow than I had first surmised.
I penned this record of events straight after Walter left me. I have tried to be as faithful as humanly possible to the words I saw and heard.

To Whom It May Concern

In the event of my death, I hope this account of my ancestry will let Posterity know of my Past, and inform the Present of how we may build a new Future.
When I was a boy, my father told me of his mother’s life, together with her memories of her – and my – lineage. My grandmother had told my father that her mother would sit her on her aged knee and sometimes whisper and sometimes sing and sometimes cry this tale:
‘Child, we came here to Barbados more than a hundred years ago. From a land called Africa, far away to the East across this shining sea. Our people, my child, your ancestors and mine, were taken from the secure and happy compound of family. A happy land of plenty and comfort: sheep and goats and the cow, and the yams and the corn and bananas and palm wine.
We lived the gladsome life of the free and easy; this was the way of life of our people, the Isha Yoruba near Bante; a peaceful, peace-loving people. No war. No killing. No slaves. The old gods. Even though I revere the past, my child, heed this:
I no longer trust the old gods and neither must you, child.

read more

A Northampton Town and Walter Tull Declamation

Let the living answer the roll call of the dead:
Walter Tull of Spurs and Northampton Town KIA 1918;

And now the names of other Cobblers:
Harold Redhead KIA 1918
George Badenoch KIA 1915
Bob Bonthron
Harry Hanger KIA 1918

Harold Springthorpe 1915

Harry Vann KIA 1915

Bernard Vann VC KIA 1918

Frank Taylor survived the war
Frederick Walden survived the war
Frederick Whittaker survived the war

Names from another century come back to haunt us:
Harold, George, Bob, Harry, Freddie, Bernard, Frank,
Names once shouted over a football pitch,
‘Give it to Walter’,
‘Over here, Freddie,
‘Shoot, Harry’;

The imperatives of a football team
Replaced by new orders in khaki, with
Night patrols, barbed wire and machine guns;
Muddied football boots forgotten
In the trench foot fields of Flanders;
The clamour from the ground and stands
No match for whizz bangs, mortars and howitzers;
The fogs of a November match,
Innocent memories in a gas attack:

read more

Swindon and The Great War

They were summoned from the hillside,
They were called in from the glen,
And the country found them ready
At the stirring call for men.
Let no tears add to their hardship,
As the soldiers pass along,
And although your heart is breaking
Make it sing this cheery song:

Keep the home fires burning
While your hearts are yearning,
Though the lads are far away,
They dream of home.
There’s a silver lining,
Through the dark clouds shining,
Turn the dark cloud inside out,
Till the boys come home.

1914
4th August: 7.49 p.m.

The factory hooter blows ten times: the order to mobilize: war.

Men march in the streets between Swindon Junction and Swindon Old Town stations; transportation of military personnel and equipment starts. The mayor speaks, to loud cheers: ‘You are leaving home and friends at the call of duty … We will see that they do not want. Our good wishes go with you … Be of good cheer. Goodbye, Good luck, and God bless you all!’

read more

The Final Scores

1914-1918: And Now For The Final Cost:
These figures show 2014 research into the number of players at the clubs below who lost their lives in the Great War. This may not yet be the Final Cost. There is also an interesting postscript.

Arsenal 3 Aston Villa 1
Barnsley 4 Blackburn Rovers 2
Birmingham City 2 Blackpool 3
Bolton Wanderers 1 Bradford City 9
Derby County 6 Brentford 7
Brighton and Hove Albion 5 Bristol City 5
Bristol Rovers 3 Bury 7
Burnley 5 Cardiff City 0
Chelsea 6 Clapton Orient 4
Coventry City 6 Crystal Palace 4
Bradford Park Avenue 2 Everton 7
Exeter City 6 Fulham 0
Grimsby Town 1 Huddersfield Town 5
Hull City 4 Liverpool 6
Luton Town 3 Manchester City 9
Manchester United 8 Middlesborough 7
Millwall 5 Newcastle United 9

read more

FGR and WWI Memorials

I pedalled through snowdrops and birdsong,
To the two war memorials in Woodchester,
Then bicycled past umpteen old cloth mills,
River liquid light all along my way,
To Nailsworth, Avening, Minchinhampton and Amberley,
With long barrows and a standing stone for company;
On through Shortwood, Tickmorend and Downend,
To Horsley
(A memorial just by the church, the bus stop and the school),
Before descending through Ruskin Mill’s sluice-scape,
A heron pointing my way back to Nailsworth,
Just before the rain came in, on a mid-day westerly breeze.
My next trip meant the number 35 bus,
A two pound forty single delight,
Gazing at the wood anemone by the roadside,
A palimpsest of ancient woodland by this main road,
Traveling by bus on what was once a prehistoric track,
That once made its way under a gloomy canopy,
But now tarmacadam speeds south of the Cotswold scarp –
But I was on my way to Nympsfield’s war memorial,
Just by the shadowed wall of the Old Chapel,
A crucifix, refashioned from one found on the Somme,
And brought back to this Catholic village in 1917;

read more