Posts Tagged ‘1918’

August 8th 1918

May 26, 2015

August 8th 1918

This day was oft called the black day of the German army. It was the first day of the Battle of Amiens and it really was the beginning of the end.

It was also the day on which my wife’s grandfather won a Military Cross. He was, by then, a captain in the Tank Corps. We know his tank was hit and caught fire. Still under fire he rescued as many as he could of his crew – but sadly, not all of them. Grandfather’s tank had been attached to a Canadian regiment and using their wonderful on line diaries we have been able to trace just where grandfather went on that fateful day. Near the point where his tank was hit there is a cemetery and it contains Tank Corps men. We don’t know, but maybe they were with Grandad and failed to escape from the blazing inferno of his tank.

Grandad, of course, survived but like so many Great War veterans, he never talked about it. My wife never knew he had been awarded such a high bravery award until long after his death.  So of course we do not know the names of his tank crew.

But here is one of the graves in the Beaucourt British Cemetery.


Note it has two names on it. We know nothing of Private J Oliver or Private W Barrett who sadly, along with so many others on both sides of this conflict, paid with their lives.


August 7, 2014

At the end of July a last link with my grandfather’s generation passed away. Marj was born in 1918 and was nearly twenty years younger than her big brother, my grandfather. They all lived in Tonbridge in Kent and at one time Marj lived quite close to Grandad and so we used to see her quite often. Then, as happens, families can move apart geographically and drift apart socially a bit as well.  But I got to know Marj again in the last twenty years and what a lovely, cheerful lady she was. She was full of life, fun and family stories which I was eager to snap up. Several family get togethers in those last twenty years have been enlivened by Marj.

And she’d have enjoyed her funeral – for yes, it was as enjoyable as such events can be. First of all, Marj had demanded that black was not to be worn at her funeral. It’s amazing how that turned what could have been a stiff and formal occasion into a much more relaxed affair.

The service was held in St Stephens Church in Tonbridge. This has witnessed many a family occasion including the wedding of my grandparents back in 1920. But oddly, it was the first time I ever went in the church.

It sits on quite a busy road junction just to the south of the town centre.


I don’t suppose my grandad, who died in 1968, would have recognised the interior. It has been modernised. I never knew it any other way, but I thought the space was very stylish and amongst other ‘luxuries’ there are toilets, quite a swish kitchen and I noted the ability, if wanted, to use computer projection. Comfortable chairs have replaced pews. I liked it.

We were able to look inside well before the service was due to start.


The service was a mix with traditional religion and a lovely eulogy and other memories given by Marj’s daughter in law and granddaughter.

The burial was in the town’s cemetery where many another family member, is also interred.

And after there was a wake which was full of joy and fun.

But let’s look at Marj.


Marj married Les in 1937 (at St Stephens) and here we see the wedding party after the marriage. Les and Marj have been dubbed ‘the trendiest couple in Tonbridge’. Just behind Marj are her parents, my great grandparents and, of course, other family members are in that shot too.

This next picture was what you might call the photo of honour at the funeral.


Many of us had not seen this photo before and we were all struck by family resemblances. This could have been my Aunty Vera, My mum, My Aunty Valerie or even my sister. But no, it was Great Aunt Marj.

Marj, you live on in our memories.

First World War Celebration

February 14, 2014

This year, 2014, we in the UK are marking the start of World War One. There isn’t much to celebrate about that war which saw death and destruction on an unprecedented scale. But in my village we will certainly mark the centenary and the following years with various events and possibly a way-marked and explained ‘First World War Walk’

We were looking for memorabilia and we came across a saucer we had. Actually, this commemorates not the start but the end of the war. At least the peace could be celebrated, even if ‘a land fit for heroes’ turned out to be light years away from the truth.


It’s quite a pretty little thing and of course, it should have a cup – but we don’t have that.


The emblem is attractivealthough we can see in an enlargement that the painting or transfer print was not very high quality. No doubt somebody, pleased the war was over and maybe their man was coming home, was persuaded to part with some cash to buy what is a purely commercial item.

It was made by Collingwood.


As to where we acquired it, we are not quite sure. My wife thinks we bought it cheaply in a second hand shop somewhere. Wherever it came from it is quite a sweet little thing. Maybe for some it will indicate a victory for good over evil. For me it commemorates a very hollow victory.

My Life in Tickets (11)

July 31, 2013

Armistice Compiègne

This is a recent ticket from July 5th 2013. It is for the Armistice Museum in the Compiègne forest. This was where the armistice was signed at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 – the armistice which ended the Great War. It (or rather they for there were two of them, so two tickets) are very ordinary. There’s not much class about them.


The armistice was signed in a railway carriage – er – not this one.


This one is identical to the original, which was destroyed by Hitler after he used it to humiliate the French in 1940.

This identical coach belonged to the Wagon Lits company.


It has been allocated the number of the original.


The carriage is the centrepiece of this museum, but there are other stunning items, not least the 100s of stereoscopic photos of First World War scenes.

But an item that caused me rueful amusement was this bit of trench craft made of readily available materials.


It’s an ingenious lamp from a hand grenade and bullets.

The life in tickets continues.

Meet the relative – Alf Ware

February 8, 2013

Alfred Leslie Ware was born in Tonbridge, Kent in 1897. His parents were William Thomas Ware who was a stoker on the South Eastern Railway and Sarah Jane (née) Kesby. Alf was their third child, but certainly the first conceived after their marriage.

Like many a young man, Alf joined up to serve in World War I as soon as he could (or possibly sooner). We have a very battered photo of the family which includes Alf.


My cousin did a good job of tidying up this photo.


Sarah Jane and William Ware stand in the middle. Then, starting with the lad on the left and working clockwise we have Ron Ware, then Reg Ware, William Ware, Cis Ware, Alfred Ware and Beryl Ware.

Reg Ware was my grandfather. The others are my great uncles and aunts. We can see that Will and Alf are in uniform but my grandfather, Reg, is not. I’m guessing this was 1915 or 1916. Alf had signed up and was about to leave and Will, the oldest chanced to be on leave. Grandad, Reg, joined up before he was old enough.

Sadly, Alf didn’t come home.

Gunner A L Ware 77693, “D” Bty. 161st Bde. Royal Field Artillery died in action on Tuesday 26th March 1918 and is remembered with honour at the Bac-du-Sud British Cemetery, Bailleulval, Pas de Calais, France.

I haven’t traced the military life of Alf so we are working on a bit of guesswork. I can guess that he might have been involved in the battle of Bapaume or Arras for they took place at the right time and are close to Alfred’s burial place, the Bac-du-Sud cemetery at Bailleulval. The cemetery is totally for those who fell in 1918 in that area and includes 640 British casualties, plus 48 Canadians and 55 German soldiers.


Here’s the cemetery.

And here is Alf’s memorial stone.