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Monday 18 August 2008

A statistic

When discussing the losses in the Great War, and specifically those suffered by the industrial communities of the north such as Accrington, the focus is invariably on the Pals Battalions; units raised in local neighbourhoods and often stripping whole streets or factories of young men. However, the appalling losses of such as the Accy Pals at Serre on July 1 1916, were often suffered by territorial units. Maybe not quite so bad, but bad enough.

The graph below shows when the men and boys listed on Ulverston's primary memorial were killed. (August 1914 to December 1918).

The most striking feature is the huge peak of July (14), August (25), September (8), 1916 when the lads were fighting on The Somme. Nothing approaching such a concentrated loss was experienced before or after. Nor should it be forgotten that for every man killed approx 3 would be wounded - thus, with 47 dead, 'Lile Oosten' probably suffered a total of some 200 casualties during this period. 20 of these men were killed in July/August fighting with the 1/4th King's Own, the local Territorial unit that recruited throughout Furness and Cartmel. Indeed in the whole three month period the unit lost 194 men killed and perhaps 500-600 wounded.

These casualties were largely a consequence of the attempt the break the second German line on The Somme at Guillemont. The men of Furness and Cartmel attacked a quarry to the north west of the village from a start line at Arrow Head copse just to the west of 'The Sunken Lane'. They were cut to pieces. A description of this place is contained in Ernst Junger's classic 'Storm of Steel'; as a young German soldier Junger was fighting in The Sunken Lane some weeks after the 1/4th attacked. Check out . The pic show the site of Guillemont Station some 200 yds north of where the ulverston lads fought. This was a railway station! The village used to be on the horizon!

One of those killed, on 8 August, was John Burrow, Assistant Master in Dalton School. He is buried at Guillemont Rd Cemetery - close to Raymond Asquith, son of Herbert Asquith, Prime Minister in the early years of the war. Raymond's grave is just to the left of the entrance, seen here. John's is at the back of the cemetery.

John Burrow was an old boy of Ulverston Victoria Boy's Grammar and although his name is on the school's memorial his photograph does not seem to appear on the school's photographic roll.

Of all the guys killed in this three month period, July - Sept 1916 and named on Ulverston Cross, one died in Tanzania, one in Iraq, one at Ypres and two at home. The rest were killed on the Somme. 26 have no known grave and are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to The Missing of the Somme.

The graph is interesting in other ways. The first peak of casualties (reading from the left) illustrates losses suffered at Festubert in the summer of 1915, shortly after the 1/4th went to France. Also the losses of 1918 (54) approached those of 1916 (69). Indeed for the country as a whole the casualties increased in each year of the war. It is only in small communities, such as Ulverston, that the losses are skewed by the involvement of a territorial or a Pal's Battalion.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

Charney Hall, Grange over Sands?

One of the things I keep coming back to is the number of memorials that have either vanished or about which very little is known. A friend of mine recently came up with one at Silverdale, just outside the borders of Cumbria. A Roll of Honour of the men of a local church had at some time in the past been used as a backing board for another more recent picture. It only came to light a few months ago when the picture required cleaning and re-framing.

Another mystery is presented by this photo postcard I recently bought on ebay for a couple of pounds.

The picture clearly shows a building described as 'Charney Hall Memorial Hall'. But where is it? Until the 1970s (I think) there was in Grange over Sands a private preparatory school called Charney Hall. Sadly the entire school complex was subsequently demolished and is now a series of residential buildings.

During the early years of the last century the school was run by George Podmore, who describes himself on the 1901 census as MA Oxon, Private Schoolmaster, with the help of assistant master, George Antrobus . There were some 20 boarders including a number of the Wordsworth family. A number of local gentry families sent their sons here to prepare them for one of the greater public schools. In due course many of these joined the forces and it is thus no suprise to find in Grange parish church a memorial to old boys killed in the Boer War. Indeed, the church also holds the battlefield cross of Hubert Podmore, one of George's four sons, who was killed around Ypres in 1917. See this posting on the Great War discussion forum for exhaustive details of Podmore's carreer.

However, there is no memorial that I am aware of to the old boys who were killed in the Great War. I find that strange and thus wonder whether the above picture is in fact the school's Great War Memorial. A contemporary OS map shows an isolated building to the north east of the main house which seems to have the same shape and plan as the photo.

I have made some rather desultory enquiries in the town but no-one seems terribly interested or to have any memories of the school prior to its demise. But surely the school had a memorial?