It is now April 2017 we have just commemorated Vimy and the Battle of Arras. Which happened “Over in France”. Soon we will be commemorating the arrival of the Americans, “Over There.” Every 11th November we commemorate the dead, who died, “Over There.” We look at the names on War Memorials. Tell everyone we will remember them, we don’t, the generation that did has gone too. We are losing the connection. Yet the connections to some are still here. We just ignore them. The CWGC did some sterling work on the local connections this year. People visited the CWGC war graves in their local cemeteries. Ignored the ones without the standard CWGC headstone. Nether the less it was a good start. Sgt William George Upton DCM MM he was in the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) when he died and is buried a couple of hundred yards from the Machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) Memorial. Ignored because he does not have the standard CWGC Headstone. There are plenty of others in Folkestone Old Cemetery ignored for much the same reason. William is just an example. At least these graves are being taken care of by the CWGC, and if his headstone deteriorates, as it will do, it will be replaced with a CWGC stone. Although I think some of the information will be lost. So there is a connection there. The connections we are in danger of losing, and in some cases have lost are the memorials inscribed on other grave stones and personal family memorials. Memorials such as, To Captain R.C. Gilchrist. Robert Crooks attached 59th Scinde Rifles.Can not write about them. The temptation to title it “Peccavi” would be too much.Burmah Police Medal, buried at Beuvry Communal Cemetery. The memorial is on a family grave in Folkestone Old Cemetery. His father was Brigadier-General R. A. Gilchrist. Now there is a local connection which like old soldiers is rapidly fading away.
Walking around Folkestone Old Cemetery there are others.This is the grave of James Brice, died in 1915 age 54. Not a Military death, it’s not a war grave. So we do not bother with it. We should, it is a memorial to his son, James George Brice. He died on the Somme in 1918. His memorial on his father’s grave tells us more than a name on an Offical War Memorial ever will. It tells us who he was. The son of James Brice. It tells us he was loved and missed. It tells us how his much he was missed. How he was remembered. It makes James George Brice a person again.Horace William Reader Killed in Action on the 24th May 1915. commemorated on the Menin Gate memorial to the Missing. But he is not “missing”, we do not know where in the salient around Ypres he is buried. We do know he is here in Folkestone remembered on a gravestone on his father’s grave where he lived on in his families hearts. This is where he was remembered. We would rather go on a jolly to Belgium than a walk around our local cemeteries to find out about him though.W.B Thomas. His mum was called “Nellie”. Mum’s called Nellie always sound like nice mums. Don’t think you will find many graves in France with “Had a Nice Mum” on them Here we find out his mum had not long died. He had brothers. It is just not aCWGC grave so goes unrecognised and eventually, all the connections will fade away and be gone too.
William George Young. Royal Garrison Artillery, buried in Italy. Remembered here on his father’s grave. He was an only son. Part of a family, we know he was remembered. It says so here. Gone and not forgotten by his dad, his mum. His grave will be though and the connection lost.
This grave is a wonderful look at the history here. Keep going down the tombstone you will find Malcolm, “NeverForgotten” commemorated on the Arras memorial. He had a brother killed in South Africa stories that are just not told on the official memorials. Who would connect Rupert Hall on a South African War memorial with Malcolm Hall on a WW1 memorial? Here is the connection. Here the families memory.
Cecil Hall, commemorated on his Mum’s grave. Outlived his mum which is what all children should do. The tombstone is slowly falling over. One day it will be flat and no one will know who is buried there, or who was remembered.
The next memorial is to a soldier buried in Aden. Aden is not a place currently on the tourist routes. His grave is not easy to visit. Even if there was a link to Charles being buried there. At least here in Folkestone it is possible to visit his memorial Charles lived at 33 Sydney Street.
There are many more memorials such as the ones above in Folkestone Old Cemetery. Hundreds and thousands scattered throughout out the land and in local cemeteries in other countries. Each memorial is a local connection, slowly fading.
So who was Leslie Swain? he is on his granny’s gravestone here in Folkestone Old Cemetery.
Leslie’s parents lived at 73 Foord Road in Folkestone. He had served for two years in the territorials before moving to Canada. On the 18th October 1915, he attested into the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Leslie served in the 47th Battalion Canadian Infantry. He died sometime between 5th-7th May 1917 and has no known grave. Leslie is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial. The area has strong links through theShorncliffe Trust to Canada and have just completed a successful trip to Vimy with a large group of Canadians. These trips and links are important and have to be maintained. Hopefully though, we will remember that Canadians were not a super race that came from the from the prairies of Canada, they were “Us” they came from here, were remembered here, and we should never forget that again.
Visit your local cemeteries and remember the connections are here.