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Monday 29 March 2010

Death at Omdurman and a colonial war crime in the Sudan

Friend Rod has started turning up regularly with pics of war memorials he has encountered on his travels. The latest is a stack of pics from the north of the county including Lanercost.

This wonderful former Augustinian priory largely built from the stones of Hadrian's Wall & often ravaged by marauding Scots was adopted as the parish church after the reformation. It has a number of memorials two of which commemorate brothers.

On the south wall of the nave is a slate slab bearing the names of the only two sons of artist John Charlton and his wife, Kate.

Both men were killed within days of each other. Hugh Vaughan, 7th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers, aged 32 on June 24, 1916 at Whytschaete. His brother, John Macfarlane, 21st Bn Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed exactly a week later at La Boiselle on the First Day of the Somme. Beneath the memorial there is an additional plaque for John, their father, who died at the family home, Banks House, Bamburgh in 1917. When I lived in north Cumberland as a boy I was told that he died of inconsolable grief. Echoes of Kipling's terrible grief on losing his only son, Jack.

There is also a terrible irony in that John made his reputation painting pictures of, among other things, glorious scenes of Imperial Military events such as The Charge of the Light Brigade.

On the opposite wall of the nave is a further memorial containing bronze relief portraits of Hubert George Lyulph Howard & his brother Christopher Edward, two sons of 11 children born to George, 9th Earl of Carlisle and his wife, Rosalind.

Christopher, a Lieutenant in the 8th Royal Irish Hussars, died at Slaines Castle, the Scottish seat of the Hay Earls of Errol, in 1896.

His Elder brother, Hubert, was killed at the Battle of Omdurman in the Sudan on September 2nd 1898, an Imperial campaign fought to avenge the death of Chinese Gordon at Khartoum in 1885.

Herbert Kitchener, soon to be known as of Khartoum, was leading 25,000 British, Sudanese and Egyptian troops against 50,000 Dervishes or Ansar, the followers of Abdullah al-Taashi, The Mahdi.

The Brits lost 430 killed and wounded. The Ansar lost 10,000 killed, 13,000 wounded and 5,000 taken prisoner. After the battle Kitchener had the Arab wounded slaughtered.

Members of the Lincolnshire Rgt at the Battle.

Hubert Howard was not in the services but was working as a special correspondent for The Times & various other newspapers, an adventurous Churchillian aristocrat, typical of late Victorian England. He was educated at Balliol, Oxford, went to Cuba in the early stages of the rebellion against the Spanish authorities and joined the insurgents in the summer of 1895.

When the second Matabele war broke out in the spring of 1896, he travelled there to serve as a lieutenant in Robertson’s “Cape Boys”. In August, Howard was severely wounded in the leg during the attack on Secombo’s stronghold by Colonel Plumer’s column.

An African Warrior

For a time he was then Private Secretary to Earl Grey of tea fame. After his return from South Africa he was called to the Bar and worked in the legal profession for a time. Following his death he was buried in the Sudanese desert.

Omdurman was a bloodbath, a Sudanese holocaust. The battle and the memory of the Mahdi is still revered in the Sudan where the Brits are considered to be war criminals .... for more check out this link or this one.

The Earl of Carlisle lost another son in the Great War, Michael Francis Stafford died serving as a Private with the 2nd Bn Honourable Artillery Company although he had previously been a Lieutenant with the 18th Hussars and the Scots Guards. He was killed on 9 October 1917, age 37 at Passchendaele.

Sunday 14 March 2010

A glimpse of Staveley in Cartmel

I have favourite places. A seat in the corner of the churchyard of St Mary's at Staveley in Cartmel is one of them. It is a wonderful place of quiet above the busy A590. The church itself was built as a chapelry after the suppression of Cartmel Priory though it has been subject to a couple of restorations and rebuilds since the 16th century.
The churchyard is particularly interesting for the variety of grave markers and tombstones quite a few of which commemorate high status families. One of these is the Ridehalgh family grave containing the mortal remains of three generations.

The family lived at Fell Foot, a substantial house on the shores of Lake Windermere now owned by the National Trust and run as a country park. The house and estate has a colourful history and passed through a number of hands until it was bought by Colonel George John Miller Ridehalgh, Lord of the Manor of Urmston, about 1859. He was a great benefactor in the district, an obsessive yachtsman and steam-boat enthusiast. Following his death the house was eventually sold in 1907 by his cousin, Wm Smith Ridehalgh, whereupon it was immediately demolished. The family moved to Broughton Lodge, closer to Cartmel. William Smith and his wife, Ethel, had just one son, George William. Born in 1916 he was serving as a 2nd Lt with the Welsh Guards when he died in 1940 to be buried in the family vault.

At some subsequent date his grieving widowed mother and his sisters erected a window in the north aisle of the church bearing figures of the archangels, Saints Gabriel & Raphael.

Oddly his name does not appear on two Rolls in the church but it does appear on the WW2 panel in the Lych gate, the village's primary war memorial. This gate, built from village oak, was constructed by the Wren family of Newby Bridge and unveiled in 1927

I have the following from friend Howard;

I remember old Mrs Ridehalgh living on her own at Broughton Lodge. We lived at Longlands Farm as kids and I remember her, a tiny old lady, peering through the steering wheel of a Vauxhall as she drove past the drive end. Her maiden name was Ravenscroft and she was renowned as a beauty, as the picture attached clearly shows.

The Ravenscrofts were a wealthy cotton trading family from Birkenhead and lived at Wood Broughton. Her brothers all fought in the war.

This is an extract from my Field Broughton book; "The third house in the picture is Broughton Grange, then owned by the Ravenscrofts. The four sons of the household were reported by the Cartmel Parish Magazine of October 1914 to have "all gained commissions". Martin joined the 3rd West Lancs Field Artillery and gained the Military Cross in 1917. Gordon and Harold were both Lieutenants in 4th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, which was at Barrow-in-Furness at the time. This was an Extra Reserve battalion which remained at Barrow until October 1916 when it was transferred to Barry in South Wales where it remained for the duration of hostilities. Gordon was promoted to captain in the summer of 1915 and ended the war with this rank in The King’s Own. The Ravenscroft brothers went out to France and both were in the "thick of it" during the Somme battles of 1916. Harold was reported to be home in August 1916 after being wounded in the right shoulder and Gordon was back on duty after being gassed.
The fourth brother, Trevor, was commissioned into the "Lancashire Huzzars" and joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1915. The January 1916 Cartmel Parish magazine said, "Trevor Ravenscroft of RFC has had a wonderful escape. He fell from a height of 1300 ft with his aeroplane, diving headlong into a tree near the Brooklands Aerodrome. He was roped into his seat so did not fall out. The machine went straight down through the tree, cutting off branches 6 inches thick as though they were matchwood. When the inhabitants of the house nearby rushed out they found the airman walking about with a bleeding nose. Stranger still, the house was that of Miss Egerton, St George's Hill, Byfleet, Weybridge, who was delighted to be of assistance to one from Cartmel Valley, even though his visit had been so abrupt! We are truly thankful that he is none the worse." He was later reported to have been many times over the German lines in his aeroplane."

Friday 12 March 2010

Memorials at Gosforth

There is still a deal of snow on the tops but it has been sunny recently, the crocus are coming through and spring is just round the corner! So today I set off with friend Al for beef and ale pie at the Wasdale Head Inn, an amazing place. On the way home we dropped by the village of Gosforth. In the churchyard here is one of England's great treasures, a superb 10th century Scandinavian cross.
In the church itself there are a number of memorials to men of the district who have died in conflict. I have already posted that of Capt Chas Parker, RM.

Of equal interest in a marble plaque, created by Wm Brown of Stonehouse, Devon, commemorating Captain Sir Humphrey Le Fleming Senhouse, KCB, KCH -[Knight Commander of the Hanoverian Order of Guelph], RN, of Seascale, who died aged 60 at Canton during the First Opium War. Having served in the Royal Navy since 1801 his end came on June 13, 1841 aboard HMS Blenheim, a Third Rate 74 built at Deptford in 1813. He had been Senior Naval Officer of the China Squadron.

Capt Senhouse was buried at the Portuguese enclave of Macau where the monument below was erected by fellow Officers. It bears the Senhouse family crest.

Sir Humphrey was a scion of the ancient family of Senhouse of Netherhall & Gosforth who had lived in the parish since the reign of Richard I. He was the third of ten children produced by William & Elizabeth Senhouse and a grandson of Sir Geo Fleming, Bishop of Carlisle.

The First Opium War was a pretty unpleasant business, a profoundly cynical exercise in Imperialism on the part of the British. The Chinese War Junks were blown out of the water by steam powered British warships. Part of the Treaty of Nanjing, drawn up at the war's end and seen here, saw Britain's acquisition of Hong Kong. The conflict also produced a long period of instability in the Chinese Empire as peasants attempted to overthrow the Quing dynasty.