Monday, 29 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


It’s impossible for us to imagine the innermost thoughts of people who lived and fought during the First World War. But perhaps a word of reflection on those four shattering years can be left to Private Harry Patch.

Harry was Britain’s last surviving soldier who’d served in the trenches, and lived until his 112th year. The Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantryman was conscripted in 1916 and fought at Passchendaele’s dreadful battle; nearly a hundred years later, his medals are displayed at the DCLI Museum. Today Harry’s thoughts ring out: "When the war ended, I don't know if I was more relieved that we'd won or that I didn't have to go back. All those lives lost, for a war finished over a table. Now what’s the sense in that?"

Across Cornwall's towns and villages, after the war memorials were erected to the fallen. Above is Truro's, topped by a triumphal representation of a Cornish soldier. Beneath the figure are commemorated the dead.

This is my final post on Cornwall's First World War. I'm grateful for readers' interest, and for the guest posts generously provided by contributors.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm
  

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

For much of the war, Cornwall had its own defence force: the Volunteer Training Corps. Here’s a relic from those times, a cap badge from a Cornish VTC officer’s uniform.

The Duchy’s long coastline, mostly isolated and dotted with small bays, was felt vulnerable to possible enemy incursion. To help protect exposed and sensitive areas, by mid-1915 VTC contingents had formed in many Cornish towns and villages. Generally its men were ineligible for front-line service: old soldiers, essential war workers, members of the clergy. Among other duties they helped protect national treasures, including precious state papers which had arrived for safe keeping at Bodmin Gaol.

The Corps was a national body, the forerunner of the Second World War Home Guard, and given similar tasks. Its members wore a red brassard emblazoned with the initials GR (Georgius Rex), which led to unkind nicknames: God’s Rejects, Gorgeous Wrecks, Grandpa's Regiment.

But for Cornwall’s VTC men, guarding military centres and protecting key resources such as the railway network was deadly serious. They worked as orderlies at the Duchy's Red Cross hospitals, provided sentries for the explosives factories at Hayle and Perranporth, and volunteered with local fire brigades.  
 
My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

At the mouth of the River Lynher, Cornwall’s naval station HMS Defiance served throughout the war. The base was built at Wearde Quay near Saltash, using two wooden hulks moored off the river’s northern bank: Defiance, an old 2nd rater after which the station was named, and the smaller sloop Perseus. During 1905 a railway line was added, its station named Defiance Halt, connecting the sailors with Great Western’s route to the diverse attractions of Plymouth waterfront. 

Between them the vessels provided quarters for officers and ratings on main and lower decks respectively, as well as a galley, gymnasium, and also lecture rooms, for Defiance was a training station. Its deadly courses taught wholesale maritime destruction, using some of the most lethal weapons of their day: torpedoes and enormous sea-mines.

Defiance operated various craft, including the gunboat Scourge fitted with an 18-inch aluminium torpedo tube; a steam pinnace, numerous torpedo boats and a destroyer also served.

The main hulk itself was fitted with training torpedo-tubes, pointed toward the mud flats across the river. Using the other vessels live exercises were regularly carried out in Plymouth Sound, a torpedo-range cleared of traffic apart from moored tender HMS Falcon, which spotted and marked the students’ efforts. 

Mine-laying practice and recovery drills were generally performed in Whitsand and Cawsand Bays. In today’s image the sailors are putting in some hauling practice with sea mines; these mines are dummies, but the base conducted many live exercises off the Cornish coast. Live mine and torpedo firings even took place on the Lynher itself. Cornish people would gather to watch the explosions, as colossal gouts of water were flung high into the air.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Monday, 22 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here it's 1918, just south of Newlyn on the western side of Mount's Bay. Resting on its launching rails down to the water at Royal Naval Air Station Newlyn is a Short 184 seaplane. Between the floats of the aircraft are mounted a depth charge and a bomb. Three more bombs, used by the station's seaplanes on anti-submarine patrols, sit on a concrete plinth. In the background is a canvas hangar, standard issue of the day.

Newlyn was one of four Cornish centres of aero activity during the First World War; the others were at Bude, Mullion and Padstow.  An air base was also built at Tresco on the Isles of Scilly.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

 

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Charades

This Christmas, why not enjoy some traditional festive games of charades:

  • ‘Putting Up With Relatives I Detest’ charade
  • ‘Enduring Old People’ charade
  • ‘Believing in Jesus’ charade
  • ‘It’ll Be Worth It To See The Children’s Faces’ charade
  • ‘The Year’s Most Enjoyable Meal’ charade
  • ‘Visiting Loathsome Neighbours’ charade
Have a jolly and peaceful Yuletide; may your accompanying long-term debt crisis not break your spirits entirely.

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Old People At Christmas

"I'm 84, they never come ..."
500,000 elderly folk in Britain will spend Christmas alone, a recent survey shows. Commissioned by the charity Hello Old PEople, the study examines attitudes of the young toward senior citizens during the festive season.

The survey revealed most young people wouldn’t be inviting elderly relatives to their Christmas meals or parties, and would rather befriend animals than older citizens. Many didn’t have time to visit an old person, especially at Christmas. Others said they couldn’t be bothered, or had a feeling elderly folk already received enough visits.

The chief reasons for older people being abandoned, say the youngsters, are their unappealing habits. Rudeness and tutting; mania for quizzes on flags of the world; a belief their anecdotes are worthy of film rights. It’s claimed many old folk endlessly bemoan the decline of 'common sense' in modern times, and expect reverence simply because of their age.

But some young people did make visits. A handful were religious, others doing their Duke of Edinburgh Award. The survey also revealed well-off elderly people, especially those in bad health, received frequent calls from the young. The Enduring Old People charade is a well-known Christmas game, and can be lucrative.
 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here's Castle Class armed trawler John Kidd, Admiralty Number 3508, seen in Mount's Bay. Built on the Tees at Smith's Dock Company, Middlesborough, she was launched in February 1917 and completed three months later. 

John Kidd served as a minesweeper; usually she had a crew of 15. She was armed with a 12-pounder gun amidships, and stern-mounted depth-charges used to attack U-boats. As we can see from all her elaborate aerials, to help co-ordinate her activities she was fitted with wireless.

Happily John Kidd survived the war, and was renamed Rotherslade. She went on to serve in the Second World War. Any further information on her would be much appreciated.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing aspects of Cornwall's First World War.

This photo dates from December 1914. To our left stands Lieutenant Cuthbert Lloyd Fox of Glendurgan House near Falmouth. His men have been working on the construction of Trevethan army camp, which continued its training work throughout the war. Behind the troops are some of the camp's accommodation huts. Today the site is marked out by Falmouth's Highfield, Mayfield and Fairfield Roads. 

Cuthbert Fox later served with the Royal Engineers on the Western Front; he was promoted to Major and awarded the Military Cross. In 1946 he was appointed High Sheriff of Cornwall. Cuthbert died in 1972.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing aspects of Cornwall's First World War.

In 1921 eight surrendered U-boats from Germany's First World War fleet appeared at Falmouth, brought by the Royal Navy for trials. Six moored at Gyllyngvase, but during a winter storm five were driven onto the Pendennis rocks. Abandoned, they became something of a tourist hit. 

The submarines stayed until the Second World War, when they were partly dismantled during Britain’s push for scrap-metal. The photo shows two men from Falmouth docks surveying one of the vessels just prior to the exercise, its conning tower slanting up and to the right. Today the bare bones of the U-boats are still there. 

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing aspects of Cornwall's First World War.

Here's a photo from November 1918, just before the war's end. Camouflaged American coaster Lake Harris has come to grief on the beach at Longrock, east of Penzance. Local people have turned out to view the vessel; a few days later Lake Harris was successfully refloated. The American flag flies from her stern, and on the poop is mounted a small defensive gun.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'll be posting a different image showing aspects of Cornwall's First World War.

Here's a photo from the summer of 1918. The location is Royal Naval Air Station Padstow, a small airfield just outside the town at the hamlet of Crugmeer. We don't know the identity of the RAF officer resting on his cane, but the aircraft behind is a de Havilland DH.6 biplane.

Padstow’s DH.6's were as much a burden as a fighting force. The DH.6 was a depressing aeroplane, its engine puny and reticent; many examples also suffered from structural problems. Carrying bombs was a great burden but a load of 100 lb was just about manageable, provided the pilot flew alone. Sometimes DH.6s patrolled merely as unarmed signalling aircraft, the observer using an Aldis lamp to commune with those below.

Patrols off Cornwall's north coast usually lasted around two hours, back and forth over an inshore area say 40 miles across. To help spot the enemy, flights were low-level; in any case the DH.6’s ability to climb while lugging bombs was feeble. If aircraft returned to Padstow still carrying their bombload, often they couldn’t make enough height to clear the cliffs and reach the landing-ground. That meant a turbulent flight along the nearby valley south of Gunver Head, followed by a drop onto the airfield. Numerous airmen flying from RNAS stations across Britain had previously suffered war injuries deeming them unfit for service overseas, but Padstow’s DH.6 patrols would have taxed those in sparkling health.
 
 
My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm


Friday, 12 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting an image showing Cornwall's First World War. 

Today's guest post is kindly provided by @PoltairHistory, the History Department at Poltair School in St Austell.

How did Cornish people know how the war was progressing? Television and radio were still a long way off and few people were sufficiently literate to read newspapers. Therefore it was the responsibility of the educated to spread the news. In St Austell,  headmaster of the County School Arthur Jenkinson led the way. On 11th December 1914 in the Public Rooms on Truro Road, he gave a lecture entitled “The War”. 

From the school magazine of the time we learn that, with slides and diagrams, he explained the significance of the Battles of Mons and the Marne before examining the stalemate caused by “modern methods of warfare, entrenchments, dug outs etc”.  He then illustrated the progress that the Russians were making on the Eastern Front. Next he analysed the naval campaign, describing the loss of HMS Amphion before talking about the sinking of four German cruisers in the Atlantic.

Learned and well-read, Jenkinson had a thorough grasp of the situation and one that would favourably compare to a modern textbook. Feeling better informed, the audience ended the evening by singing of “God Save the King” and a making a collection for the Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance. 

A week later Arthur Jenkinson volunteered for the Royal Fusiliers as a private soldier. Later he held a commission in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, from which he was discharged in March 1919 with the rank of Major.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing aspects of Cornwall's First World War.

From 1916 the Royal Navy posted armed motor launches at Falmouth and Mount's Bay, tasked with hunting German submarines in the waters off Cornwalll's long coastline. To keep them supplied, the Navy co-opted the Dreel Castle, an drifter of 97 tons originally registered at Kirkcaldy.   

Converted into a depot vessel and based at Falmouth, Dreel Castle plodded a monotonous route to Penzance and the small naval outpost at St Mary’s, ensuring the launches and naval auxiliary craft were replenished with fuel, arms, equipment and rations. Here's a painting of the unsung boat by the sculptor George Wade, who was also a self-taught artist.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing aspects of Cornwall's First World War.

In August 1914, just as war broke out and with deeply unlucky timing, two German liners sailing for America put in at Falmouth. The Hamburg America vessel Prince Adalbert (Captain Schonfeldt) arrived on 4 August, closely followed by Kronprinzessin Cecilie, seen above anchored off Falmouth. Their crews and several hundred passengers were transferred to Custom House Quay by Falmouth’s tug Victor and detained, some briefly held in stinking quayside fish-houses.

Both vessels were seized by the Admiralty; the aliens, harmless and by no means all Germans (some were Americans), were taken under armed guard to the workhouses at Falmouth, Helston, Penzance, Redruth, St Columb Major and Truro. American citizen Theodore Cuyler Patterson of Philadelphia protested loudly, claiming he was a personal friend of President Wilson; it made no difference. With neutrals weeded out and released though, by the autumn’s end the German nationals had been interned up-country.    

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm


Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing aspects of Cornwall's First World War.

Here is General Sam Hughes, Canadian War Minister, inspecting a guard of Royal Fusliiers of the Falmouth Garrison during his visit in March 1916. The men were from the 16th (Reserve) Battalion which had formed at Falmouth in October 1914.

 My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Monday, 8 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing aspects of Cornwall's First World War.

Here is a section of female employees who worked for the famous old Camborne firm of Holman Brothers Ltd. Before the war Holmans made mining machinery for use worldwide, but during hostilities turned to munitions manufacture. These ladies are 'shell-girls', sometimes known as munitionettes, who produced 18-pounder ammunition and high-explosive howitzer bombs for the British Army and Navy. 

The women worked round the clock in three shifts; above is Section 1. Holman's rather patronising post-war literature records: "We are proud to say that these girls tackled unfamiliar tasks with willingness and enthusiasm ... girl labour proved excellent in every way." 

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Friday, 5 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing aspects of Cornwall's First World War.

Here is Corporal William Harmer, who served with the 10th (Service) Battalion (Cornwall Pioneers), Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. 

The 10th Battalion was raised at Truro in March 1915 by the Mayor and the City, and trained at Penzance before moving to Hayle in October. In June 1916 they landed at Le Havre, fighting on the Western Front until the end of the war. 

We don't know a great deal about William but he came from the Penryn area. During the conflict he was awarded the Military Medal.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing aspects of Cornwall's First World War.

In 1914 these men were mobilised to Falmouth.  They're gunners from the Royal Artillery, posing proudly on Pendennis Head with their 6 inch field gun. Many gunners trained there in the use of such weapons, before being sent to the Western Front.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Cornwall In The First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing aspects of Cornwall's First World War.

Today I've selected a 'mystery photo'. It was taken in the Helston area, possibly during 1914. Beyond that, we know nothing about what's going on. A couple of points: firstly the soldiers' trousers are of darker material than their jackets, which is unusual. Secondly their cap badges are round, so we can exclude them being Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. 

They may be members of Cornwall's Volunteer Training Corps, but these part-time soldiers usually wore identifying armbands displaying the initials GR: no armbands here. It's more likely they're part of the later Volunteer Force, but in that case the photo's date would be at least summer 1916. 

Any thoughts or information on these gentlemen would be most appreciated.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting an image showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here is the 3rd Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry on a route march during 1917. The soldiers are out of step and rifles are being carried on different shoulders, which suggests they've been travelling some distance.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Monday, 1 December 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here's a close-up of Coastal Class airship C.2, which flew from Royal Naval Air Station Mullion. She's being walked across the flying field by her ground-crew, using trailing-ropes to manoeuvre her; her engines are stopped so perhaps she's just arrived home at the end of a patrol. Beneath her gondola we can make out bombs, used to attack German submarines on the rare occasions they were spotted.

 My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Friday, 28 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

On 18 April 1918 the British merchant steamer SS Runswick, carrying coal, was torpedoed by German submarine UB-109, three miles off Trevose Head near Padstow. She was beached and abandoned; all the crew were saved. 

Today she lies against the Quies, the islands a mile or so off Trevose Head.


My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting an image showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here, it's August 1914; war has just broken out. In Redruth a rush of volunteers takes place as men step forward to join the fight. Shepherding the recruits are two regular soldiers. The new men wait on the town's station platform; they're travelling up-country to begin military training. For many, this will be the last memory of where they'd grown up.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm 
 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


Today I’m pleased to feature a guest post written by Anne Chapman, who lives in Gorran Haven.  Many thanks for the piece, Anne. 

In Memory of Henry Chapman

On 26th November 1914 the UK suffered its second worst loss of life due to an explosion at sea, when HMS Bulwark was destroyed off the coast of Kent. The final death toll was 738 men, and this is the story of one of them ... my Great Grandfather Henry Chapman. He’s pictured above, with his wife Elizabeth.

Henry was born on 6th October 1869 in Higham, Strood, Kent, the son of Charles and Mahala Chapman. He had at least eight brothers and sisters. His family had been farmers in Kent and Sussex for many years, but Henry chose another path.

He became a coastguard and this profession led him to Gorran, Cornwall, where in 1896 he married Elizabeth Ann Lewarn Liddicoat. The Liddicoats are an old Gorran family; their roots there go back at least 200 years.

Henry’s career took the couple from Gorran to Kingswear, Devon, then to Charmouth in Dorset and finally to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. In each place they lived in coastguard cottages, some of which remain standing today.  As they moved around the country, the family grew. Henry and Elizabeth had eight children; Florence Eleanor, Mary Mahala, Ruby Audrey, George Henry, William Charles, Elsie May, Percy John and Charles Leslie.  Mary and Ruby sadly died young.

When war was declared in August 1914 Henry joined the Navy as a Petty Officer Stoker (Coastguard), number 147160, and embarked in HMS Bulwark along with many reservists from the Portsmouth area. His family left the Isle of Wight and moved back to Cornwall, where they lived at 2, Ledrah Villas, Ledrah Road, St Austell. Henry was 45 when he died and his youngest child was only two. 

Elizabeth remained in St Austell and raised her family there alone, under what was undoubtedly great hardship. They lived on St Austell’s west side, initially in Ledrah Road and later in the Gover Valley. Henry and Elizabeth’s surviving children prospered and many of their descendants can be found in the St Austell area today. Surnames of family members include Chapman, Giltjes-Vincent, Giltjes, Raymond, Bennett, Williams, Casson, Wellington, Webb, Evely, Kingdom, Laville, and Arrowsmith.

HMS Bulwark had a short career. One of three “London” class battleships, built in Devonport in 1902, amongst others she was commanded by Captain Robert Falcon Scott, who later explored the Antarctic.  At the outbreak of War she joined the Channel Fleet, and early in November 1914 became the location for the court martial of a senior Naval Officer. 

On the morning of the disaster Bulwark was moored off Sheerness in the River Medway estuary and most of the crew were below decks at breakfast, hence the large loss of life. The huge explosion was felt in buildings on the Essex coast, and the sailors’ personal effects were later found scattered across the Kent countryside.

That afternoon the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, said in the House of Commons: “I regret to say that I have some bad news for the House.  The Bulwark battleship, which was lying in Sheerness this morning, blew up at 7.53 am. The Vice and Rear Admirals who were present have reported their conviction that it was an internal magazine explosion, which rent the ship asunder. The ship had entirely disappeared when the smoke cleared away.”

“The loss of the ship does not sensibly affect the military position, but I regret to say that the loss of life is very severe. Only twelve men were saved, and all the officers and rest of the crew, which, I suppose amounted to between 700 and 800 persons, have perished. I think the House would wish me to express on its behalf the deep sympathy and sorrow with which the House heard the news, and the sympathy it feels with those who have lost their relatives and friends.”

The subsequent enquiry found the explosion had been caused by the overheating of charges, which then set off the ammunition stored in the ship’s passageways. Despite the Coroner’s best efforts, the blast was so severe that many of the recovered bodies remained unidentified; they were buried under full military honours in the Naval Section of the Gillingham Cemetery.  Sadly, most of the crew were not recovered for burial. 

Today, the men who died are remembered at Chatham’s Naval Memorial and the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. The disaster’s centenary will be marked by remembrance services and events in Gillingham and Chatham.

As Henry spent so few years in Cornwall he is not remembered on any local memorials, but his legacy is alive in Cornwall today in the form of his many descendants.  He is not forgotten.  

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here is Sea Scout Zero airship SSZ.42 seen at Royal Naval Air Station Bude, the lonely outpost on Cornwall's north coast established outside the town in 1918. Beneath, her ground-handling crew are holding the airship's trail ropes, to help manoeuvre her across the field to a mooring position. Today, one of Bude's old concrete mooring points, a huge ball into which was sunk a metal loop, survives in private hands.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here's a scene from Falmouth. At the war's end the town was recognised by the Government for its financial contribution to the war effort by the presentation of a tank for display on The Moor. The tank arrived by train on Saturday 13 September 1919, making its own way from Falmouth recreation ground and down Killigrew Street led by Falmouth's Town Band, where hundreds waited to see it.

Cornwall received four other display tanks, at Camborne, Penzance, Redruth and Truro. Falmouth's stayed beside the Packet Memorial until 1927, when finally it was scrapped.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Friday, 21 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Among the Cornishmen who joined up when the First World War broke out was St Austell-born Percival Phillips; later he served with the Royal Flying Corps in Mesopotamia, Persia and Kurdistan.

This image was taken during 1918; Percival sits in the cockpit of his R.E.8 two-seat biplane at Baqubah. ‘PP’ survived the fighting and returned safely home. After a spell as a partner in a St Austell motor garage, in 1924 he formed the barnstorming Cornwall Aviation Company.

 
My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here is Charles Dyer, born at Mevagissey in 1883. By 1901 the Dyer family was living at Heligan Mill, and Charles, aged 17, was working for the Squire as a gardener. Later the family moved back to Meva and he became a fisherman. Charles married his sweetheart Annie, and on their wedding day they swapped identical rings.

Like so many Cornish fishermen Charles had enlisted for the Royal Naval Reserve. After war broke out he served aboard His Majesty’s Trawler Rosa on mine-sweeping duties, and also saw action during the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

Later wounded, he was moved to a naval hospital at Chatham Dockyard. But Charles disappeared; he was registered as a deserter. His family was left disgraced and penniless.

Two years later, in woods by the hospital, a skeleton was found with a ring matching Annie’s. The Royal Navy removed Charles’s name from their list of deserters and the family’s name was redeemed.

Charles Dyer is buried in Mevagissey cemetery, beneath a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm
 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here are eleven men who worked at the Trewheela China Clay Works near Fraddon. With two other comrades, in August 1914 they joined the Territorial Force of the Royal Engineers.

It’s thought they were encouraged to enlist by the Nalder family, who had a large stake in the clayworks at Trewheela, and also had links with the Royal Engineers at Falmouth.

The men’s names were Frederick Stanford Biscombe (Summercourt); three brothers Ernest, James and Orlando Brokenshire (Summercourt); Richard John Cole (Summercourt); Richard Veal Common (Higher Fraddon); Richard Grigg (Ruthvoes); two cousins Charles Bernard Halls and Llewellyn Halls (St Newlyn East); John Harvey (Toldish); Albert Victor Menear (Indian Queens); George Robins (Summercourt) and William Phillips Tippett (Summercourt).

Ernest Brokenshire was killed in August 1918 while Richard Veal Common, who had transferred to the Tank Corps, lost his life in October 1918. It’s believed the others survived the war, though sadly two men died within five years of the end of the war.

Any further information on these men would be most appreciated.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here's a mystery. This image was taken earlier this year, and shows a bench-end at St Fimbarrus church, Fowey. The carved wooden angels are holding a shield, engraved with the crest of Britain's First World War Royal Flying Corps. 

But what's the significance of the crest; why is it there? As usual, any help with this would be most appreciated.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm  

Monday, 17 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a photograph showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here's it's August 1914, just after war began. Passengers and crew of German liners in Falmouth harbour at that time were rounded up by the army, and initially interned in Cornish workhouses. 

Under armed guard, the foreign civilians - by no means all German nationals - are being marched up Redruth's Station Hill. They've been detained in nearby Barncoose workhouse, but are about to be sent by train to Devonport. From there, some will be allowed to travel home; others, defined as enemy aliens, will enter long-term internment. 

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm
 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing Cornwall's First World War.

 Today, Truro’s war memorial on Boscawen Street honours just one woman from the First World War: deceptively delicate-looking Cora Cornish Ball.  Born in 1896 to a large family, for a time Cora lived in Kenwyn village near the city.  Her father had various jobs and the family moved around the local area.  Despite that, Cora kept up her schooling until she was 14 or so, and in 1917 the slim young girl volunteered for service with the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.

As Corps No.2717, Cora travelled to France where she served near Calais.  Her WAAC uniform consisted of a khaki cap atop her short dark bob, with a matching khaki jacket and skirt; regulations stipulated the skirt must be no more than 12 inches above the ground.  During her war service, perhaps because she’d stayed on at school Cora reached the rank of Forewoman, equivalent to an army sergeant.

The WAAC was formed in 1917; it provided storekeeping, vehicle maintenance and clerical duties for the British Army, as well as telephonists, waitresses and cooks, freeing more men to take up fighting roles.  In the following year the WAAC was renamed Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps; between January 1917 and November 1918 more than 57,000 women enlisted.

Cora received two medals recognising her war service: the Victory Medal, and the British War Medal.  Sadly though, only 11 days following the Armistice she died, perhaps a victim of the terrible flu pandemic sweeping Europe at the time.  Cora Ball was laid to rest in Les Baraques Military Cemetery at Sangatte, near Calais; she was just 22.

Cora’s name appears in a 1920s manuscript titled British Women’s Work During the Great War, held by London's Imperial War Museum, which includes rolls of honour recording the hundreds of British nurses and servicewomen who gave their lives on active service.  Today, as well as being remembered by Truro’s monument Cora Ball is honoured on the memorial in her home village. 

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War


During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing Cornwall's First World War.

Here's a rare sight. It's 1918 at Padstow airfield, just outside the town at the hamlet of Crugmeer. The airfield hosted de Havilland DH.6 and DH.9 biplanes, the occasional BE.2, even airships from Mullion. But here's the puzzle: the aircraft in our picture is a visiting Sopwith Camel. Where did it come from, and why did it drop in to Padstow? Any information would be gratefully received.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Cornwall in the First World War

During this month, each weekday I'm posting a different image showing Cornwall's First World War.

In July 1903, at just 15 years old, Mullion-born Ernest Herbert Pitcher joined the Royal Navy. By August 1914 he was serving in the Dreadnought battleship King George V. The following year Ernest volunteered for special service with Britain’s growing Q-ship fleet.

Q-ships were intended to combat Germany’s submarines by posing as defenceless merchant vessels. To inflict a nasty surprise on attacking U-boats these tempting targets concealed weaponry aplenty: deck-guns, torpedoes, depth-charges. It was perilous work, the Q-ships serving as decoys to draw enemy fire, their crews all volunteers.
 
In February 1917, ex-collier Q-ship HMS Farnborough was sailing off Ireland’s west coast.  Among her crew was Ernest, by then a Petty Officer. Farnborough was attacked by submarine U-83; in a brutal exchange the U-boat was sunk, the ship damaged but beached, while Ernest was mentioned in despatches.

By the summer he was embarked in HMS Dunraven, again a Q-ship disguised as a collier. On 8 August, around 130 miles south-west of Ushant in the Bay of Biscay, submarine UC-71 spotted Dunraven. Taken in, the U-boat surfaced and attacked. Shells from its deck-gun struck the ship, setting off depth-charges; fire caught at her stern while a torpedo caused more damage. 

The British replied with two torpedoes of their own, but missed. UC-71 stole away while Dunraven slowly began to go down; later she sank under tow. Happily the crewmen who’d lived through the action were rescued, and the story of PO Pitcher’s gallantry came out.

Ernest had been in charge of the sailors manning Dunraven’s 4-inch gun, hidden in the poop. When the magazine below was set afire, to stave off catastrophe the men carried all the powder and shells they could up to their gun. There they calmly held these materials on their knees, to stop the deck’s heat igniting them. Finally though the magazine had exploded; the sailors were blown high into the air. With several injuries, Ernest came round on the deck.

Somehow, all the gun-crew had survived. In the light of such exceptional discipline and bravery, along with the other sailors Ernest’s name was entered into a ballot for a Victoria Cross, and drawn. He received his medal in November 1917; his men were awarded Conspicuous Gallantry Medals.

In July 1918 Petty Officer Pitcher VC and his wife Lily attended a private view of the Exhibition of Naval Photographs at the Princes Galleries in Piccadilly, London, where they met King George V and Queen Mary.   

After the war, as a regular Ernest stayed in the Navy; during August 1920 he was promoted to Chief Petty Officer, and that year was a member of the honour guard at the Cenotaph Service of Remembrance. He left the Service in 1927, becoming a teacher and then a publican. During August 1940, at the height of the Battle of Britain, he rejoined the Navy. Courageous Ernest Pitcher saw out his second great war, and died in February 1946.

My book, 'Cornwall In The First World War', is published by Truran. With 112 pages and 100 images, you'll find it in bookshops across the Duchy. It's also available through Amazon: http://amzn.to/19JbtZm