THE  DOVER WAR MEMORIAL  PROJECT

 

war memorial at dusk, photographed by Michelle Cooper

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Welcome to Dover's Virtual War Memorial

Patrons:

Dame Vera Lynn, DBE, LL.D, M.Mus

Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Boyce, KG, GCB, OBE, DL
Lord Warden and Admiral of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle

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Remembrance Calendar
in and by Dover

14 December 2014 - Season's Greetings!

May we wish ....

 A peaceful and fulfilled
 
Christmas
to you all!
 


9 November 2014 - Remembrance Sunday

On this Remembrance Sunday Maggie and Simon attended Remembrance ceremonies at Wolverton and, in the afternoon, at the clock tower memorial in New Bradwell, Buckinghamshire (left).

For some time now we have wished to create a Virtual Memorial for the Fallen of our local town, Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire. Today, in their honour, we began this commemoration - "Newport Pagnell Remembers"

We have already discovered connections between the two towns - more information will follow! The Memorial at Newport Pagnell is on the right, pictured in the snow.

11 October 2014 - The Tower of London

The commemoration of the Great War, entitled "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red", will see 888,246 ceramic poppies placed in the moat of the Tower of London between 5 August and 11 November.

Every night some 180 names of the Fallen are read, followed by the sounding of the Last Post. On 12 October the name of Able Seaman Daniel Cannon will be amongst those spoken. He died, aged 21, on New Year's Day, 1915, when HMS Formidable was torpedoed off Portland Bill.

On 21 October Lieutenant Tommy Eaves will be named. He died on 3 October 1916 on the Somme. His body was never found, and he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. We understand that the school at which he taught, St Martin's, Dover, was one of two primary schools invited to the opening event.

Also to be remembered, on 13 October, is Bill Dabson, relative of DWMP supervolunteer Joyce Banks.

The last names will be read on 10 November. Currently nominations are still open, and may be requested here

photo of the poppies by Dean Sumner

5 October 2014 - A Flag at the Memorial?

A request has been made that a flagpole be erected behind the bronze figure of Youth on the Memorial in order to fly daily the national flag (impression - see right). Amongst the fifteen flagpoles already available in Dover is one on the Town Hall, next to the Memorial (see left).

The Town Council have opened the question for consultation and are asking everyone for their views. If you wish to comment on this proposal, the contact details for the Council are here

They have asked that comments be in by 13 October.

images by courtesy of Dover Town Council

22 September 2014 - The "Live Bait" Squadron

Exactly one hundred years to the day after the cruisers Hogue, Cressy, and Aboukir, were torpedoed and sunk in 90 minutes by enemy submarine in the North Sea, a memorial event was held at Chatham Historic Dockyard. Attended by hundreds of relatives of the crews, the drumhead service was led by The Right Reverend Dr Stephen Venner DL and The Reverend Scott brown, Chaplain of the Fleet.

HRH The Duke of Kent KG unveiled a commemorative plaque, and the Worshipful Mayor of Medway handed a wreath to the Mayor of The Hague to be laid at a further ceremony in Holland on 24 September. 837 men survived, with two Dutch merchant ships, Flora and Titan, the first rescuers at the site, but 1,459 men died. Bodies were washed up on the coast of Holland for weeks after the tragedy.

The plaque reads:
First World War 100th Anniversary. To commemorate the loss of three Chatham Division Cruisers, His Majesty's Ships Aboukir, Hogue, and Cressy, and 1,459 men on  22nd September 1914 as a result of enemy action in the North Sea.

13 September 2014 - Dem Bells!

Bellringers at St Mary's, Cannon Street, have commemorated several World War anniversaries in the last couple of weeks. Ten days ago they marked the 75th anniversary of the declaration of war against Germany and remembered people who lost their lives in that war by ringing a quarter-peal - 1250 changes - of Ibberton Surprise Major. For the ringers it was the first time any of them had rung the method.

On 30 August the bells were half-muffled bells for a peal - 5058 changes - of Yorkshire Surprise Major in memory of  Dover bellringer Lance Corporal Archibald Percy Randolph Gibbs, killed in action on 26 August 1914. He was the first bellringer die in the Great War. A half-muffled quarter peal of Grandsire Doubles was also rung on 26 August.

There was also, on 25 July, a peal of 5024 Spliced Surprise Major, comprising eight different methods. This was rung just before a visit to France and Belgium in memory of members of the Ancient Society of College Youths who died in the Great War. The Ancient Society is a change-ringing society in the City of London, established in 1637. The peal was the 50th achieved on the St Mary's bells.

" ... the peculiar combination of joy and sadness in bell music .... is very typical of England" - A. N. Wilson

illustration - detail from a postcard dating approximately 1908

5 September 2014 - Palmer's Coachbuilders Roll of Honour at Dover Transport Museum

Exciting news! In a unique Great War centenary commemoration at the Transport Museum ... on display now for the first time is a Roll of Honour from Palmer's, the coachbuilders. It lists employees who served - and those who never returned. Do visit - the Museum is open three days a week until the end of October, and then Sundays throughout the winter; details are here. There's much more to see besides!

We offer grateful thanks to Ted Smith at the Transport Museum, and to Jean Marsh, who is transcribing and researching the names. It's a work-in-progress as many of the letters are very faded - but here is the preliminary list of names.

The Transport Museum are hoping to restore the Roll of Honour. We wish them every success!

photo by Ted Smith

31 August 2014 - Woe, Woe, and Thrice Woe!

A visitor from our Canadian friends brought a unique opportunity to see flying together the only two airworthy Avro Lancasters in the world.

"Vera", as she is known, joined the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster in a number of events in England.  The pair were due to fly over Buckinghamshire today, en route from Shoreham to Nottingham. Very many people turned out to see them. Sadly though, Vera had developed engine trouble, and has been on the ground since 29 August.

Fortunately Dean Sumner was at Headcorn - and captured just a bit of the magic for us. Thank you, Dean! And get well soon, Vera!

photos by Dean Sumner

 

August 2014 - Wreaths in France

The wreaths arrived safely at the Arras Flying Services Memorial, where 990 airmen who have no known grave are commemorated. There are a further 2,647 men buried in the Faubourg d'Amiens cemetery, and 34,774 men commemorated on the Arras Memorial. Amongst them is the renowned Walter Tull.

The Right Worshipful the Town Mayor of Dover, Cll Mrs Pam Brivio, far right, accompanied by former Mayor Cllr Mrs Ronnie Philpott, represented our town, laying a wreath. For Mrs Philpott this was especially a poignant journey as a member of her own family, Robert Charles Watson, was reported missing on 3 May 1917. He was one of the many thousands in the Great War who were never to see home again.

photos by courtesy the Right Worshipful the Town Mayor of Dover, Cllr Mrs Pam Brivio
photo of the Councillors by a member of Dover Sea Cadets

14 August 2014 - Wreaths for France

In a mission of Remembrance organised by the Western Front Association eighty-five wreaths left London for France on 10 August. The wreaths represent the units of the British Expeditionary Force in 1914, with wreaths for the Merchant and Royal Navies included.

They arrived in Dover on a Great War aircraft recovery trailer pulled by a  Crossley Royal Flying Corps light tender; here they are outside the Town Hall.

photos by courtesy of Brian Dixon

Other events in Dover to commemorate the entry of Britain into the Great War included a service at the Town War Memorial on the morning of 4 August, with a candlelit ceremony held there in the evening, and on 12 August, as part of the Western Front Association commemorations, a convoy of Harley-Davidsons riding from Netheravon Airfield in memory of the first two RFC casualties, Lt Skene and Air Bechanic Barlow, who died on 12 August 1914 as No 3 Squadron RFC took off for Swingate, Dover. The convoy laid wreaths at the crash site, at the graves of the airmen, and at Swingate and then continued to France.

12 August 2014 - Get Well Soon!

We're really sorry to hear that our supervolunteer, researcher extraordinaire and all-round lovely lady, has broken her ankle. She works hard finding out more about all our Fallen; she identifies casualties and solves mysteries; she ferrets out information and is like a bloodhound on a trail! Every day brings exciting new emails to our inbox.

We're missing you, dear lady, and know you're missing doing your research. We hope that you'll soon be up and about again. With love to you and your  husband - and wishing you well again very soon!

10 August - 100 years on

At Wolverton, Buckinghamshire, famed for over 150 years for its railway works, forces representatives and cadets paraded in honour of the Great War centenary.  Led by a 1914 Renault and the Wolverton Town Band, they marched from the War Memorial to the old Drill Hall.

The Wolverton Drill Hall too was celebrating its centenary, having been built in June 1914 for use by the Buckinghamshire Battalion (Territorials) of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. After the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the men who left the hall for the Western Front, all participants enjoyed  Great War inspired refreshments: sandwiches filled with paste or cheese or corned beef and pickle, with home-baked sponges and - of course - a good strong cup of tea!

Notes: Drill halls are a part of our military heritage, usually funded and constructed by local communities for the use of volunteer forces. Purpose-built, they consisted of a large room used by volunteers for marching and manoeuvring and training in skills such as signalling or weaponry, along with other rooms such such as a kitchen and an office. Used almost nightly they were seen as a great benefit to the community, offering discipline and physical improvement to men, and to the country in preparing a skilled military force. The halls were often also used for fêtes and functions, some of which contributed funds to maintenance.

Footnote:
Wolverton is twinned with Ploegsteert, hence the Belgian flag for the unveiling. As part of their initiatives marking the Great War Centenary, the Belgian Tourist office would like to hear from descendents of the famed Christmas Truce football match which took place at "Plugstreet" in 1914.

If you can help, do please email them at truce(AT)belgiumtheplaceto.be (substitute @ for AT) or ring 0207 531 0390.

10 August 2014 - The Poppy Sculpture

In some of the shopping malls in the United Kingdom are poppy sculptures, designed by Mark Humphrey for the Royal British Legion.

 

 

 

 

 

Each sculpture can hold 3,000 poppies, which can be dedicated to those who have died in conflict. Of course we dedicated one to our Dovorians - and another to those brave pioneers of the skies, many of whom took off behind our castle for France just after the Great War began - the Royal Flying Corps.

Poppies around ours were dedicated to named individuals and "To Granddad", "Respect - Thank You", and "With Love XXX".

photos courtesy HR

7 August 2014 - Dover's Western Heights in the Great War

We're really pleased to welcome Phil Eyden's new book!  Filled with photographs and facts, its 96 pages shine a much-needed light on the hidden history of troops-in-waiting.

Built in Napoleonic times, the Western Heights, Dover's Forgotten Fortress, became a key site both for training troops for the trenches and for the first defence of the Gateway to England should the unthinkable happen.

Meanwhile, much-needed lights literally did sometimes shine through the black-out as local volunteers under the RNVR signed up for the new Dover Anti-Aircraft Corps. Until they were superceded, they were the life-savers of the early war, slilentily listening and scanning the skies for the enemy.

Covering two hard-to-research areas, Dover's Western Heights in the Great War is a must-read - and, helping keep our hidden history alive, proceeds go directly to the Western Heights Preservation Society. The book is £12 - contact Phil at phileyden(AT)doverwesternheights.org (substitute @ for AT) for your copy.

6 August 2014 - Hiroshima-Nagasaki Day

The first Peace Pagoda built in the West was constructed at Willen, Milton Keynes by Buddhists of the Nipponzan-Myōhōji  Order.

Every year the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb, on Hiroshima, Japan, is commemorated by a service at the Pagoda.

 Participants then process to the lake where monks and nuns float over a hundred decorated candle-lit lanterns on the water in memory of some 200,000 people who died.

4 August 2014 - Centenary of the Great War

One hundred balloons released into the sky - one for each year that has passed since the outbreak of the Great War. Our area held several events to mark the centenary; this one was at the football stadium at Denbigh North, Milton Keynes and was attended by The National Chairman of the Royal British Legion and the Mayor of Milton Keynes.

At the War Memorial in Newport Pagnell many people gathered for a candlelit tribute. The service, during which the names of the Fallen were read, was held in St Peter and St Paul's church, with the candles blown out at exactly 11pm.

"The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our life-time", are words attributed to  Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, on the eve of the entry of Britain into what was to become the Great War. Recalling this, many homes in the town were in virtual darkness.

6 June 2014 - 70th Anniversary of D-Day

70 years on - but their memory never fades. We remember all those who were camped across Southern England, suddenly and silently to disappear in the night as the reclamation of occupied France began.

Several of our Dovorians died on the very first day. Amongst them were John Murphy, aged 27, from 28 Goschen Road, who left his wife of two years, Joyce; Leonard Gates, aged 26, from Temple Ewell, who also had married, to Evaline, just two years previously; Harry Suckley, aged 23, newly married to Beatrice;  Francis Hughes, aged 28, from 15 Erith Street, whose five-months son Anthony Francis had died on 29 May, just the week before; and Morgan Price, aged 21. They are all buried or commemorated at Bayeux, France.

Above, right, dug in to trenches and holding their position, are members of the Tommy Atkins Society. Teaching schoolchildren and demonstrating to the public, they represent the men from ‘B’ Company, 1st Battalion, The Leicestershire Regiment, who served as part of the 49th West Riding Division in France, Holland and through to Germany, entering Normandy just after D-Day.

The memory of our Fallen lives on, their actions are never forgotten, our honour never ends.

photo courtesy of HR

31 March 2014 - Quarterly Newsletters

Owing to changed circumstances we have had to suspend for the time being our quarterly newsletters "From the Front". However, news articles and information will continue to appear here and new articles are accessible through our Information index. Newsletters and yearly news items are archived here.

wreath 2006, by Simon ChambersDear Friends,

Welcome to 2014!

And what of 2013? Well, last year for the DWMP was a year of two halves. A significant change in family circumstances in July, compounded by Maggie becoming unwell in August, meant that the last five months on the DWMP were necessarily been rather quieter than the normal frenetic activity!

Of course, our work of Remembrance carried on behind the scenes, answering queries, helping others with research, and especially maintaining and updating Dover's Virtual Memorial in memory of all our Fallen. There is much still to be written up. One aspect coming very much to the fore is how many casualties were related to one another, and thence how many families were left to mourn multiple losses of loved ones. We thank Joyce Banks for her sterling work in rediscovering these connections.

A family deeply bereaved was the Bowlts. In just over three years Olive and William Bowlt lost two sons and two sons-in-law. Their younger son, Frederick, just 19, was killed during the Zeebrugge Raid. He was serving on the Vindictive. The DWMP was, in May 2013, privileged to be present when the town of Ostend resited and rededicated the bows of the Vindictive, in the presence of the King and Queen of Belgium. It is a memorial to all who fought and died during the raids on Ostend and Zeebrugge in 1918.

Meanwhile, in Mauny, France, the Second World War was remembered when a memorial was unveiled to members of the Black Watch who fell in the liberation of the town in 1944. Corporal James O'Keefe was a Dovorian commemorated there; unlike many we have so far been unable to trace his family.  But his comrades continue to remember him, as does Dover, where he is commemorated in the Book of Remembrance

After much discussion with the Town Council, the first half of the year also saw the updating of our War Memorial  in June to include a further 21 names of our Fallen, requested by their families. At the same time the Memorial was rededicated by the Bishop of Dover to include and commemorate those who fell in all conflicts. A full report will appear in From the Front, issue 15.

This New Year, 2014, will be a notable year of Remembrance. In August we mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. Seen by many as the Great Adventure, a chance to travel a world far beyond the reach of the ordinary working person,  it was an opportunity to be taken - for it would be over by Christmas.

As we now know, this was not to be. 1914 was instead the beginning of four years of what some have called madness, bringing the death of around 17 million people  - and that was before the following pandemic "Spanish" 'flu, said to have begun in and been spread by the troops, which killed three to six times as many, some 3% to 6% of the global population.

We also have the 70th anniversary of D-Day, when the Allies silently crossed the channel and landed on the beaches of Normandy, beginning the liberation of occupied peoples. Across the south of England troops and vehicles, equipment and ammunition, were built up, camouflaged in leafy lanes and dumped in deep woodlands. Meanwhile, each night in Dover more and more landing barges would appear in the harbour - in plain view they were dummies to convince the enemy that any crossing would take the shortest route. Then, quietly and suddenly, all the bustle ceased and ovenight all the men, were gone. Many never returned; following their route eastwards in occupied France and up through Belgium and into the Netherlands are graveyard after graveyard, marking where they fell.

Dover celebrates its own anniversary this year too, in September. On 26 September it will be 70 years since the town was liberated from cross-channel shelling. In a flurry of attacks during that month forty-two civilians were killed in Dover, more than the previous two years combined. Though the ordeal was over and Dovorians celebrated in the streets, there was still a long dangerous path to travel as families and friends waited quietly and anxiously for news of their loved ones overseas. Nor was it entirely safe at home; a V2 landed in the sea near Dover in January 1945 and the warning siren wasn't finally silenced until March. It would be nearly a year after the Normandy landings before the Second World War was officially ended.

In 2014, especially, then, let us keep close in our hearts the memory of all those who have lost and who continue to lose their lives owing to conflict. Equally too, let us be thankful that there were so many who, when called, bravely gave as much as they possibly could, for the sake of their homes, their loved ones, and for us, the future they would never know.

We wish you all a peaceful and fulfilled New Year.

Maggie
(Marilyn Stephenson-Knight)

January 2014

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