war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper


of interesting, curious, or notable items found during research


Prince of Wales

While researching one of our casualties, surnamed Prince, we came across this appealingly-named casualty. Listed under "Prince of Wales" on the CWGC site, he was Private B/321, serving in the Inland Water Transport service of the Royal Engineers.

He died on 6 September 1917, and is commemorated on the Freetown Memorial, in Sierra Leone.


Airman's Lifeboat

On Cromer, Norfolk, seafront is a plaque to "The Foresters' Centenary", a lifeboat in service between 1936 and 1961. The lifeboat itself is now on display in Sheringham museum. Known to her crew as "The Pea Pod", the lifeboat was donated to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution by The Ancient Order of Foresters' Friendly Society, at a cost of £3,569. She was launched 129 times and saved 82 lives. During World War II she rescued more airmen than any other lifeboat, hence her commemoration as "The Airman's Lifeboat". 


tree-shaped headstone, by Simon


Visiting Brandwood End cemetery, Birmingham, in search of the grave of our casualty Leonard John "Billy" Bailey, we noticed this unusual headstone.

Shaped in the form of a tree-trunk, it commemorates Frank Starkey Barnett. He was born on 26 January 1860 and died on 13 November 1915. Also inscribed there is the name of his wife, Bertha Barnett (nee Harrison), born 1 November 1863, and died 28 March 1940.

They married in 1885 in the Solihull registration district.






At St Mary the Virgin church, Lapworth, Warwickshire, amongst the graves, is this unusual little memorial. The headstone reads:

"In loving memory of Frank Wise, aged 13 years, Sidney Warren, aged 11 years, and Ernest Spight, aged 11 years, who were drowned through the breaking of the ice on Spring Pits on which they were sliding as they returned from school and church on Ash Wednesday, February 13, 1907.. Also of Arthur Wise, aged 10 years, who gave his life in a brave attempt to save his companions. This stone was erected by the parishioners of Lapworth as a token of sympathy with their parents and as a warning to the children of future generations. 




Samuel Plimsoll

At St Martin's church, Cheriton, while looking for war casualties we came across the grave of Samuel Plimsoll, famed for the maximum loading marks on ships to ensure safe buoyancy in various conditions.

The inscriptions at the front of the grave have a representation of a loading mark, and read, "Samuel Plimsoll "The Sailors Friend", born at Briston Feb 10th 1824, died at Folkestone June 3rd 1898." Beneath is inscribed "He giveth his beloved sleep".

On the right face is written, "Harriet Frankish, his wife. March 12 1851 - May 22 1911. "I will lift up mine eyes until the hills from whence cometh my help" "

On the left face appear the words, "Enid Mary, dear wife of S R C Plimsoll, July 2nd 1893 - August 21st 1937. L.M.N.B.M."



set 2475The Only Greek Soldier

From a visit to Botley cemetery, Oxford, we learnt that there is only one Greek soldier buried in the UK. His name was T, Lagos, and he died from wounds on 18 October 1944. His grave in the picture is marked by the cross.

In the same cemetery is a CWGC headstone for Private H Gibbons, who died on 23 February 1919. Unusually it has an inscription on the back, presumably commemorating his wife.set 2475







Home Guard Loophole

There is a look-out for the Home Guard at Newton Blossomville in Buckinghamshire, at the junction of Hardmead Road and Clifton Road. It is placed in the wall around the Rectory, and faces south, directly down the Hardmead Road.

A plaque, dated 6th May 1995, reads, "This loophole was constructed in 1940 for use by members of the Home Guard in case of invasion by Hitler's Armies".




Anzac Graves at Harefield

There are 112 graves here, casualties of the Western Front and Gallipoli and of the 'flu pandemic at the end of the Great War. They were amongst thousands who were treated at the Hospital, created when Harefield Park was offered for use by its Australian owners for the convalescence of Antipodean troops.

The site became known as the Number 1 Australian Auxiliary Hospital, and expanded rapidly, receiving a royal visit in 1915. By November 1916, it became a general hospital able to undertake operations and staffed by numerous specialised medical professionals. By 1918, so large was the throughput of patients, the hospital had become a complex including billiards rooms, a library, a recreation room where concerts were held, and regular recreational outings. The hospital seventy years later would become internationally famed for pioneering transplant surgery.

The graves lie in a dedicated section of St Mary's Parish Church. In the centre of the graves is a memorial, inscribed, "To the glory of God, who giveth us the victory, and to the memory of brave Australian soldiers who having taken part in the Great War now rest in Harefield churchyard".

On the reverse of the memorial are the words, "This memorial is erected by Sir Francis Newdegate KCMG, now Governor of Western Australia and formerly of Tasmania, Honorary Colonel Eleventh Battalion Commonwealth Military Forces, and Charles Arthur Moresby Billyard-Leake Esq of Harefield Park. AD 1921". The then Mr Newdegate had arranged for the use of the churchyard and bore the cost of the funerals.

The archway at the entrance to the Anzac section bears the words, "Their name liveth for evermore" and on the side columns the words, "Harefield Parish Churchyard, Australian Military Cemetery". A ceremony of Remembrance is held here every Anzac Day, 25 April, the anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. Flowers are laid by children on every grave.


 D-Day Plaques

At Lymington is this plaque, unveiled on 21 June 2014, just after the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The plaque was laid by the Rotary club, and reads, "From this river on the 3rd June 1944 sailed the 2nd battalion of the Essex Regiment (The Pompadours) to take part in Operation Overlord. They landed in Normandy on 6th June (D-Day), liberating Bayeux on the 7th June. Lest we forget".

The Essexes had been traing in the Beaulieu area since 25 May, and were brought to Lymington to leave for Southampton. They sailed from Southampton on the evening of 5th June.

The wreath was laid by the Hampshire County Councillor for Lymington.

Below is the Lymington River, leading onto the Solent. The names and ages of men from the 2nd battalion, Essex Regiment, who died in the first week after D-Day are listed.

Thomas Williams, 24
John Beeston, 31
John Clark, 39
Walter Spooner, 28
Alfred Andrews, 40
Richard Attwood, 34
Gerald Petre, 27
Albert Harrison, 27
Alfred Hollands, 30
Christopher Joslin, 20
William Lane, 37
Vernon Larter, 19
Patrick McGowan, 18

Arthur Morley, 25
Charles Randall, 23
John Allen, 18
Alfred Roberts, 24
Thornton Cannon, 29
Harold Colvill, 29
Alan Dodge, 19

At nearby Poole Harbour, on the Custom House at the Quay, is a plaque commemorating the leaving of some 300 craft for Operation Overlord.


Enemy Action that Wasn't

Amidst the many tragedies in Dover owing to enemy action, one lady deemed to have died proved not to have done so. Hetty Alexandra Lewis of 12 Malmains Road had been in the ATS. A telegram, seemingly from the ATS, stated that Mrs Hetty Alexandra Lewis of 12 Malmains Road had lost her life in East Anglia. Subsequently the telegram was discovered to have been made by her husband, who desired to marry another woman.


Special Operations Executive

In Gravesend cemetery, close to the grave of Dover casualty Donald Boyd Heron, is this grave. From Wikipedia is the information that, born in England, Pierre Louis Le Chêne descended from a family that had fled the French revolution; they moved to France shortly after the Great War. Pierre, his brother, and his sister-in-law returned to England as the Second World War began; all three joined the SOE. Pierre trained as a radio operator and from May until 9 November 1942 he operated in France, before being arrested. He eventually was sent to an extermination camp, suffering many privations until liberation in 1945. After the war he and his brother and sister-in-law ran a hotel in France.





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