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Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Capt Forshaw VC - Barrow in Furness

Some time ago friend Howard sent me an email with some interesting info about an alleged memorial at Barrow in Furness. It related to Forshaw Street, supposedly named after a VC winner born in the town.

On the 7th August 1915, 2nd Lt, acting Captain, William Thomas Forshaw of the 1/9 Manchesters was given the task of holding a corner of the position known as 'The Vineyard' at Gallipoli. Over the following few days the trenches here were subjected to repeated attacks by Johnnie Turk. Forshaw's citation for the Victoria Cross describes what followed:

Lieutenant Forshaw not only directed his men but personally threw bombs continuously for over 40 hours. When his detachment was relieved, he volunteered to continue directing the defence. Later, when the Turks captured a portion of the trench, he shot three of them and recaptured it. It was due to his fine example and magnificant courage that his very important position was held.

The problem with the 'memorial street' arises from the fact that there was a Forshaw Street in Barrow in the 1870s. It was the location of some heavy duty riots by a crowd of Irish 'Navvies'. Without street maps to make a comparison it is difficult to be certain that this is not 'an urban myth'. Whatever the truth Forshaw Street is no more - it has been replaced by a multi storey car park & shopping precinct.

What is certain, however, is that the brave officer was given a sword and the freedom of Barrow by the Mayor and council in 1916. Some years ago this sword was being used as a prop for dramatic efforts in a local school in the town. Its importance was realised when a dedicatory inscription was noted on the blade. It subsequently came to take pride of place in the Manchester Rgt museum together with Forshaw's medals and a silver tea service presented by North Manchester High School for Boys in Moston where he taught English before the war.

In 1996 a Blue Plaque was erected at Ladysmith Barracks, Ashton under Lyne.
Forshaw did not have a succesful life. After a short post war career with the Indian Army he established two preparatory schools but both went bust. He died at Bray, Maidenhead, Berkshire in 1943 and was buried in an unmarked grave. A headstone was finally erected in the 1990s

Monday, 5 January 2009

Israel v Palestine - killing kids

The Israeli army killed 40 people today in schools in Gaza, including many children.

After years of looking at war memorials I am sickened by war and its cost. So it is always good to ponder on what creates these objects of remembrance. Almost invariably the actions of politically bankrupt, totally arrogant and inept regimes who believe killing people is a solution to some ludicrous perceived injustice. Then the world gets martyrs or war memorials to assuage the grief - depends where you live - but the tears and the rage are the same.

Crazy what difference a word makes. One of these images shows a Chinese 'hero' the other a Palestinian 'terrorist'.


Do politicians expect us to believe their lies?

Hope the kid knocked out the Israeli tank.

Ireleth with Askam war memorial

Finally got round to looking in some detail at Askam war memorial, or, more properly, Ireleth with Askam.

The long eleven year struggle to establish this imposing monument commemorating the dead of a small mining village in the Furness peninsula is quite a fascinating tale. In the 78 years since its creation the monument itself has changed little but its environs have, as can be seen from these two images. The large blocks of limestone that originally marked the path in front of the memorial together with those surrounding the central area together with the bench have all gone. There are, however, a number of trees now - some quite mature and others planted more recently.

The long story of this imposing memorial starts soon after the armistice of 1918 when Henry Mellon, mining engineer, formed a committee from the village elite; James Poole Atkinson, Dr Cook and Rev E W Ridley, vicar of the parish. There were probably others. Together they resolved to invite Sam Grundy ARIBA of Ulverston to design a memorial.

Grundy drew up a comprehensive design for a village hall but it soon became apparent that against a backdrop of collapse in the mining and steel industry throughout Furness it was hugely over ambitious. He then suggested a memorial cross, to be erected at the station entrance. But this too was a non starter. In desperation the memorial committee finally ordered a bronze plaque for the local church

More to follow on this over coming weeks