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Thursday, 3 April 2008

Impact of The Somme at Wythburn, Thirlmere

A bit less complicated but equally poignant is a simple memorial at Wythburn, Thirlmere. It is always sobering to enter a remote Lakeland church to discover a memorial or a roll with lists of names. Real people. Young men and occasionally women.

The church stands on the fellside to the east of Thirlmere, a reservoir created in 1894 that drowned the cottages and inn of the village of Wythburn along with the surrounding farms and the hamlet of Armboth. 3½ miles long and more than a mile wide, the lake serves as a water supply for Manchester. Only the church first built in 1640, and restored in 1872 remains from the flooded communities. There is a window by Henry Holiday.

The small memorial of local blue slate bears the names of 2 Borderers who were killed within a month of each other in the horror that was the last weeks of The Battle of the Somme. The first to be killed in October 1916 was 12939, Private Joe Sandham of the 8th Battalion. Aged 20, he was the son of Joseph & Mary Jane Sandham of Helvellyn House, Thirlmere. Young Joe was killed in the attack on Moquet Farm - Mucky Farm to Thomas Atkins -and is buried in Stump Road Cemetery, Grandcourt. The picture shows the trench landscape around the farm with shell bursts over the position itself.

Some three weeks later 30152, Private Alfred Bell, 37, was killed at Beaumont Hamel while serving with the 11th (Lonsdale) Bn. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. 32 Div's attack at Beaumont Hamel was a total mudbath. It rained incessantly for days before and the lads were utterly exhausted before they even reached the start line. Many, including stragglers who all but refused to attack, were slaughtered or gave up in despair. (See Tim Travers, The Killing Ground, pp188-189). Beaumont Hamel is now just another sleepy French village but a focus for pilgrims to the battlefields, especially Newfoundland Park.

1 comment:

K Johnstone (Spike) said...

I have a website on the Lonsdale Battalion "" and am in the process of
compiling a project to photograph all the graves and memorials of the above ""
Can I have a copy of your picture of the memorial of Alfred Bell from Wythburn, Thirlmere for my project, please
Regards Spike
( E mail )