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Kirkliston War Memorial

Kirkliston is a small town in West Lothian. I chanced upon it and its War Memorial, which is situated near the crossroads in the town, when I made a wrong turning exiting Dalmeny one day.

The memorial consists of a stone obelisk surmounted by a stone ball on a square pillar and bases with the square panels containing the dedication and lists of names:-

Kirkliston War Memorial

Dedication, “Erected by public subscription by the inhabitants of Kirkliston, Newbridge and Westerton districts to the memory of officers and men who fell in the Great War, 1914-1919”:-

Kirkliston War Memorial Dedication

Privates’ names for the Great War:-

Kirkliston War Memorial 3

Names of officers and non-commissioned officers from the Great War:-=

Kirkliston War Memorial 5

Names of officers and men from World War 2:-

Kirkliston War Memorial 4

Rhu War Memorial

Rhu is a village on the north bank of the River Clyde by the Gare Loch in Argyll and Bute. Its War Memorial stands in front of the churchyard, beautifully situated overlooking the entrance to the Gare Loch.

The inscription reads, “To the glory of God and in memory of the men from this parish who made the supreme sacrifice in the Great War 1914-1918. And of those who fell in the war 1939-1945,” followed by World War 2 names. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Rhu Parish Church behind:-

Rhu War Memorial

Rhu War Memorial from the churchyard, Gare Loch behind:-

Rhu War Memorial from Churchyard

Rhu War Memorial from East. Names here are for the Great War:-

Rhu War Memorial from East

From west. Again the names are for the Great War:-

Rhu War Memorial from West

Jedburgh War Memorial

A cenotaph on a raised stone platform surrounded by a stone balustrade.

Jedburgh War Memorial, Full View

Close view. Great War names on these panels:-

Jedburgh War Memorial Close View

Showing east and south Great War plaques:-

Jedburgh War Memorial Closer View

From below steps. The facing lower plaque reads, “They died for their country 1914-1919.” Plaques to left and right list names for World War 2. (Jedburgh Abbey to left in background):-

Jedburgh War Memorial

World War 2 names:-

Jedburgh War Memorial Plaque 2

Jedburgh War Memorial Plaque

Elephant Walk by Robert Standish

NEL, 1968, 252 p. First published 1948.

Elephant Walk cover

The Elephant Walk of the title is a very prosperous tea (once coffee, till a disease blighted the crop) plantation in Sri Lanka (Ceylon as was) whose founder, Tom Carey, built “the Big Bungalow” across a traditional elephant trail. Despite being dead for years Carey’s attitudes and prescriptions for life still dominate life in the bungalow – as mediated through the main servant Appuhamy (who periodically talks to the old master at his graveside) and with the parrot Erasmus ensuring Carey’s voice is still heard regularly – with open house for other local planters. Carey’s almost middle–aged son, George, takes a trip to England. (Here, in an incidental conversation with a pair fascinated by Buddhism, “George … remarked that the only Buddhist priest he had ever come in contact with had seemed to prefer small boys to mysticism.” Some things are universal and timeless it would seem.) George is attracted by the charms of Ruth Lakin; chiefly her ability at tennis. He soon proposes and Ruth seizes eagerly at her chance for a more comfortable existence.

Back in Ceylon the presence of a woman in the Big Bungalow puts all sorts of noses out of joint, while George’s drinking puts a strain on the marriage. An accident in which George breaks his leg throws Ruth into closer contact with George’s assistant Geoffrey Wilding. The Sinhalese plantation workers soon infer, wrongly to begin with, that their working relationship has improper aspects, but the seeds for an eternal triangle have been sown. Once the relationship has been consummated Ruth finds herself in thrall to her feelings for Wilding.

The advent of the Great War throws a spanner into their lives. Without knowing he is the father of Ruth’s unborn child Wilding leaves for Europe and news eventually comes he is missing, presumed dead. Ruth resolves to make the best of things. Wilding has been captured though and escapes to Holland. His return to Ceylon precipitates the book’s, and Ruth’s, crisis, not helped by the fact that Wilding’s war experiences have changed him.

The web of character relationships here is complex, and each has his or her own motivations. The oddnesses and assumptions of colonial life are well depicted. Appuhamy’s devotion to having things just so – as they have always been that way even if extravagantly wasteful – his acceptance of minor change to avoid dismissal, the jealousies of the beautiful Rayna, a Sinhalese outcast girl whom Appuhamy procures in an attempt to distract Wilding from Ruth. Standish’s desire to portray the Big Bungalow as a character in its own right doesn’t quite work though and while the occasional foray into the thoughts of the bull elephant injured while navigating the trail when the bungalow was being built are necessary for plot and dénouement reasons they do not accord with what knowledge of elephants I thought I possessed. (Only remembering the bungalow when approaching it? A bull elephant leading a herd rather than being solitary? Do Asian elephants differ in these regards from African ones?)

Standish didn’t have pretensions, there’s no fine writing here, but it’s a good solid piece of fiction.

Pedant’s corner:- strategem (stratagem, spelled correctly later.) “George’s attentiveness and solicitude was impeccable” (attentiveness and solicitude were.) “‘Blame then?’” (Blame them,) “his little brain” (of a bull elephant? Big brain I should think,) “two whiskies-and-sodas” (two whiskies-and-soda: at least Standish spared us “whisky-and-sodas”,) “‘I like to to be exclusive’” (only one “to” needed,) “‘it does no look much now’” (does not look,) at one point George Carey makes a comment on information which the reader already knows but he hasn’t been told.

Yorkshire Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Flanders

Yorkshire Memorial from Essex Farm Cemetery. The memorial overlooks the Ypres-Yser canal:-

Yorkshire Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Closer View. Inscription reads “XLIX West Riding Division 1915 1918.”

Yorkshire Memorial Essex Farm Cemetery Closer View

Dedication, “To the memory of all ranks of the 49th West Riding Division who gave their lives for King and Country in the Great War 1914 1918.”

Dedication,Yorkshire Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery

1915, 1916 and 1917 Battle Honours:-

Yorkshire Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery, 1915, 1916 and 1917 Battle Honours

1917 1918 Battle Honours:-

Yorkshire Memorial, Essex Farm Cemetery 1917 1918 Battle Honours

Cunard War Memorial, Liverpool

On the west side of the Cunard Building in Liverpool lies this Memorial dedicated to Cunard employees who died in the Great War and World War 2. A figure of Victory atop a column with a depiction of a boat extending either side of the column halfway up. “Pro Patria 1914-1918, 1939-1945”:-

Cunard War Memorial, Liverpool

Age Shall Not Weary Them

As an addendum to yesterday’s busy day we watched the film They Shall Not Grow Old shown on BBC2 last night.

The colourisation of the archive black and white footage brought an immediacy to some familiar images, a more visceral appreciation of the conditions the war was fought under, a greater humanisation of its participants; bringing it home that they were exactly like us, even at a distance of one hundred years.

I only wish though, that the film’s title did not embody a misquotation of Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen.

He of course did not write, “They shall not grow old as we that are left grow old,” but rather “they shall grow not old,” a more poetic rendering but also one that implies a different sort of growth, that the remembering would increase as time passed.

(I note in passing that the Lord Lieutenant of Fife made the same misquotation at Fife’s one hundredth anniversary of the Armistice Remembrance Service in Dunfermline Abbey on Friday 9th.)

Binyon’s poem is also almost always misquoted in its next line as “nor the years condemn.” He in fact wrote, “nor the years contemn,” a stronger meaning – and one borne out by the commemorations occurring during the last four years.

Busy Day

I had a busy day yesterday.

Firstly I had the great honour of laying a wreath on behalf of the Community Council at the local War Memorial.

Then in the afternoon it was off to Cellardyke (where we have not-quite-yet relatives) for the Quiet Citizen’s Walk round the town past the houses of the fallen from the Great War poutsid eof which present residents were standing before joining the procession.

The walk ended up at Cellardyke Town Hall where a short talk was given on Cellardyke’s war dead. Unlike in the rest of the country most fishing town’s servicemen enlisted – or were conscripted into in the navy, their boats converted to minesweeping and anti-submarine duties and many sunk as a consequence. So it was with Cellardyke.

Actor Clive Russell who loives in the town recited Ewart Alan Mackintosh’s poem In Memoriam.

Then, in what was a moving detail, a succession of townsfolk who had been allocated a dog-tag with the name one of the dead came on to the stage to give the name and surrender the dog-tag to a total of 62.

There followed another walk to the Cellardyke (Kilrenny) War Memorial for the laying of wreaths and a piper’s lament.

Is it just me being Scottish or is there something more universal about the fittingness of the sound of the bagpipes played in memoriam?

Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres (Ieper,) Flanders

Essex Farm Cemetery is located on the banks of the Ypres-Yser canal by the site of the Advanced Dressing Station where Lt Col John McCrae was serving as a medical officer when he wrote his famous poem “In Flanders Fields.” I have blogged about him previously in connection with the McCrae Memorial at Eilean Donan Castle in Lochalsh, Scotland.

The cemetery contains more than 1,000 graves. Unusually for a Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery its Cross of Sacrifice is located right at the entrance:-

Essex Farm Cemetery Ypres, Cross of Sacrifice

Graves from northwest:-

Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

From southeast. Note Yorkshire Memorial on the canal bank:-

More Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

From northeast:-

Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres, Graves

From south. Again note Yorkshire Memorial (which I shall come back to):-

Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Graves from Yorkshire Memorial:-

View of Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Graves from north, Yorkshire Memorial to left:-

Graves at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

A tree trunk has grown round the gravestone of Private J MacPherson, Seaforth Highlanders, who died on 5/7/1917, aged 33:-

Commonwealth War Grave, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Symbolic of the fact they fought and died over the same ground the cemetery holds a German grave, Franz Heger, RIR, 238, 7/8/1916:-

German Grave, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Grave of Rifleman V J Strudwick, The Rifle Brigade, 14/1/1916, aged 15, said to be the youngest British Empire casualty of the Great War. (There may be some doubt about this.) It is nevertheless a focus for remembrance:-

Youngest Casualty, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

John McCrae Commemoration stone. Written in four languages, French, Flemish, English and German, with the poem itself also inscribed on the memorial along with a facsimile of the handwritten manuscript:-

John McCrae Commemoration, Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

The bunkers at Essex Farm Cemetery where John McCrae worked as a medic:-

Bunkers at  Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Bunker interior:-

Interior of Bunker at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Another bunker interior:-

Another Bunker at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Bunkers, looking back up to Essex Farm Cemetery grounds:-

Bunkers at Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Information board with a photograph of how the bunkers appeared during the war:-

Information Board Essex Farm Cemetery, Ypres

Lest We Forget:-

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Wilfred Owen

One hundred years ago today, only one week before the armistice which ened the Great War, perhaps the most resonant of that war’s poets, Wilfred Owen, was killed leading his troops across the Sambre–Oise Canal.

Wilfred Owen

On my trip down to Oswestry for the Challenge Cup semi-final in February I discovered his name is on the Great War Memorial inside Shrewsbury Abbey.

The Abbey:-

Shrewsbury Abbey

The War Memorial. Owen’s name is marked by a poppy:-

Shrewsbury Abbey War Memorial

Closer View:-

Shrewsbury Abbey War Memorial Detail

In the Abbey grounds there is a memorial dedicted to Owen. The text in red this side reads, “Wilfred Owen Poet 18/3/1893-4/11/1918.”:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial, Shrewsbury Abbey Grounds.

The memorial is titled “Symmetry” and was designed by Paul De Monchaux and erected in 1993:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial Title

Three other information stones surround the memorial. Birth and life:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial Information Plaque

Death:-

Wilfred Owen Memorial Plaque

Line of Poem:-

Wilfred Owen  Memorial Explanation

The memorial is in the form of a pontoon bridge. You can read more about it here.

The red writing on this side is the quote (line 40 of “Strange Meeting“) “I am the enemy you killed my friend.”

Wilfred Owen Memorial Reverse View

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