One of the good and successful First World War commemoration projects of 2016 was the Living Memory Project. An attempt largely successful to get members of the public to visit war graves in the UK. It is a relatively easy thing to do. Go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web page. Click on Find War Dead, in the box marked cemetery, type in the name of the cemetery. If you want to restrict your search to First World War dead next to the War sign select First World War. If you live overseas you can do the same for the country you live in. Our dead as King George V said, encircle the globe. How far you then research is up to you.
But there is more…
More to find hidden in plain sight, some really are a living memory others forgotten. Here are a few from the Folkestone area. The first is Robert William Goddard MM and Bar
I have blogged about Goddard before so short recap.
Private D. Sutherland
killed in Action in the German Trench 16 May 1916,
and the Others who Died.
So you were David’s father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again.
(Ewart Alan Mackintosh)
Goddard who was David Sutherland’s Sergeant is buried at Denton.
The next Errol Hector Mackintosh, is buried at Shorncliffe, Wounded on the Somme, he took nine years to die. Like Goddard and the other three following, they are not recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as “War Dead”
The next grave is at Folkestone. It is the grave of Owen Giles Morgan, who also dead in 1925. This time from the effects of gas. Owen lived just around the corner from my current home.
The penultimate grave is Florrie’s. Florrie was killed in the Folkestone Air Raid and is buried in Folkestone not far from Owen. Perhaps the best known of the victims of the air raid Florrie’s ghost so I am told can still be heard in Tontine Street Folkestone near where she died. Like all civilians killed in the First World War Florrie is not recognised as War dead by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The last grave is that of Walter Moss aged 2 months. I wrote a blog about him
“W Moss, nearly forgot, W. Moss one of the least, we forget them. People like old Moss make us uncomfortable. We want them to go away, not be there. We fidget shuffle away. The others we can tell their story. It is carved in stone in front of us. We can wave our arms and point to the mass-graves. The endless rows of war graves, stand quietly for two minutes as a mark of respect, or because everyone else is doing it. Dwell on the reality of war. But it is not there, that is not the reality of war. W. Moss is.
Others you can tell their story. Were they heroes or villains. What they did before the war. But not W. Moss.
W. Moss, might have just about been able to smile. He could grip your finger or hair. slept a lot. That’s about it.
Walter Moss 2 months old. Killed by a bomb which fell on Tontine Street, Folkestone, 25th May 1917. Buried with his mother in “C New Ground. St Martins Church, Cheriton, Kent.
Their grave is unmarked, every tombstone tells a story, as does every unmarked grave.
Still, makes me cry.”
Walter Moss is buried somewhere here, in Cheriton. More than a living memory. Like thousands of others in cemeteries near you. All victims of the First World War. No celebrities, no television commercials, no coach tours, just you to visit them and remember. That is all it takes.