Twenty-one names, not really worth a second glance. Millions pass close by this small Kent village as they travel up and down the A2. Many of them are on their way to the Great War battlefields in Belgium or France. No doubt they will visit some of the memorials on the Somme, or around Ieper, Perhaps if they are memorial freaks Vimy Ridge. The Canadian memorial at Vimy can be seen from Kemmel. A very impressive bit of stone erected by a grateful Dominion The names on the memorials seem endless. Those men died in a very small area. That was where their war was, a small patch of land. On the whole they fought on minor pieces of real estate in a great war.. The monuments though are truly impressive.
Here in this small Kent village the memorial isn’t impressive. It is in the porch of the church. Very small barely noticeable on the left hand side. It only has twenty-one names. Four died at sea, two died on the same day, one died in an accident, . One executed four men during the Easter Rising in 1916. another died in Salonika. It is always worth looking at the names, and so much easier when there are only twenty-one.
There is Percy Baglietto Cottrell, wounded at the Second Battle of Doiran on the 18th September he died from his wounds nine days later. Very much a Greek hero, he was decorated by King Constantine. Percy was at first refused a commission so enlisted in the 19th Battalion Royal Fusilers and earned his commission.
Next on the list is Henry Ernest Bennet a Petty Officer on HMS Hogue, and Charles Edward Perkins, a stoker on HMS Aboukir. Both men died on the same day in September 1914 when the ships they were on, were sunk by the German submarine U9. another shipwas also sunk. Over 1,400 Royal Navy personnel died in that action. German losses were zero.
John West, next on the list also died at sea. Not as the result of enemy action but when the ship he was on was rammed by another Royal Navy Warship. The Royal Navy was quite good at sunking her own ships at vary times during and immediately after the Great War, May island springs to mind.
Still moving on on the list are two soldiers buried in the churchyard DW Barton and Thomas Hope, both were in the local Regiment, “The Buffs” Also listed on the memorial as being in the Buffs is Ernest Goodburn and Edward Prescott, Goodburn appears to have been with the Machine Gun Corps when he died. Not unusual for soldiers seemingly to be in different regiments. Soldiers were transferred or posted and the information not reaching the nearest and dearest before the soldier was killed in action or died. Prescott is also on the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme at Thiepval. Thiepval is to be avoided on the 1st July, go when it is quiet on a dull autumn day. A day when life is pretty miserable and look at the names in silence. Then the realisation that there is not much in life to be miserable about will hit home. Better to look at the names than to be one of the names.
Another of the names on both memorials, Thiepval and in this tiny Kent village is William C. Parker, killed on the 1st July 1916. Much has been written about this day, to much perhaps with to little thought. Each death during the Great War is a tragedy, counting the total for each day is playing statisticians and in the end pointless.
Moving on there is Fred Long, he died of TB in October 1920 and is buried in the Churchyard. Not listed by the Imperial War Graves Commision as he was discharged as being unfit for further military service in July 1920. Therefore his name does not appear on the Commonwealth war Graves Commissions web page.
Listed on the memorial as being in the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles, REKMR, Edward Friend was in the Royal Sussex Regiment when he died He is buried in Etaples. Also on the memorial as being in the REKMR, but serving in a different regiment when he died is Philip Willams who was in the Buffs.
Next, or rather in between Edward and Philip is Reginald Weston, who died in Mesopotamia. commemorated on a memorial that Saddam Hussein had dismantled and moved after the first Gulf War if you are American or yet another war in the Gulf if British,
Robert Flood is the next name, he was in the Royal Berkshire regiment when he was killed in Salonika, and in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers when he ordered four men to be executed, two officers from the King Edward Horse, and two brewery workers while guarding the Guinness brewery in Dublin. Sometimes Guinness is not good for you. Robert thought the men were Sinn Feiners and the brewery was about to come under attack. Still no harm done, and five months later he was on his way to Salonika were he was killed in action in 1917.
Another name also on the Thiepval Memorial is Edward Goodburn DCM, for such a tiny village there is a high proportion of men who have no known grave. For the statisticians seven or is it eight so far. Not that you are counting.
Cecil Martin from The Queens, (West Surrey Regt) he does have a known grave and is buried in Croisillers British Cemetery Cecil in April 1917. Also with a known grave is Vincent Spriggs, what his connection with Kent is, is not known, but only one Vincent Spriggs died during the Great War. He is buried in Duisans British Cemetery.
Approaching the end of the list is Ernest Osman, Ernest is buried in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery. Not being familiar with Caberet-Rouge I googled it. All you need to know is Great War Research is a tough job, but someone has to do it.
The last British Private on the list is George Parker, with checking Caberet-Rouge distraction has set in. George is buried in a known grave, but not at Caberet-Rouge.
Last name on the memorial, and singularly fitting as the first memorial mentioned was the Canadian memorial on Vimy Ridge is Leonard Marsh. Killed on the 9th April 1917. Leonard served in the Canadian Infantry. Sometimes I’m told the colonials were better than we (the British) were. not mentioned is they were “we”. No different, they came from the same cities towns and villages as “we” did.
That’s all folks.
Opps missed one, some guy called Kitchener is on the Memorial, his country needed him too.
The memorial at Barham in Kent.