Projects which link to www.firstworldwarsoldier.com
When this website was set up, the intention was to reach out to other people who had stories to tell about the ordinary soldiers of the First World War. It has been both touching and gratifying to find it is achieving its purpose. This section details with just some of the ‘fruits’ which might surprise the reader. They certainly show that there are still people who care very much about those events and about the dignity of the combatants. They also show that the internet has made communication so much easier and that it is still possible to discover new things about what happened a century ago.
Putting the record straight after 99 years
“ Headginley War Memorial to be cleaned and ‘missing’ name added, after long campaign
The grandson of a First World War soldier who lost his life in March 1918 has won a battle to have his name added to Headingley War Memorial.
Graham Wright had known for some time that the name of his grandfather had been accidentally missed off the memorial, which at present carries the name of R A Wright. However, Graham’s grandfather was simply R Wright. It is thought when the brass plaques were originally drawn up, sign writers accidentally confused the two names.
But getting his name added to the Grade II listed structure was easier said than done, not least because several agencies, including English Heritage, Leeds City Council and the War Memorials Trust had to be contacted.
After months of wrangling, however, a solution has now been agreed which will mean the name of Sapper Reginald Wright, will be officially added to the memorial during a special ceremony on April 2.
Graham said: “There will at last be a recognition of my grandfather’s sacrifice along with others already on the cenotaph at St Michael’s Church, Headingley. It has been a long and convoluted exercise but it has been worth it. At first, I thought my grandfather had been given an additional initial but I subsequently discovered Sergeant R A Wright of The Royal Warwickshire Regiment was rightfully on the memorial but my grandfather wasn’t. At that stage I thought my goals had been shattered until moves to bring about a rectification.”
He praised Leeds City Council and, in particular, Coun Al Garthwaite (Lab, Headingley), saying: “Thanks to the hard work of council officers and others we came up with a solution.”
She first spotted Graham’s letter in the YEP. She said a number of solutions were proposed before one was decided upon – the cost of the cleaning and the missing name being added will be £6,000.
As a result of Graham’s intervention, the war memorial is also due to be cleaned before the unveiling ceremony.”
(extract from the Yorkshire Evening Post 27.2.17)
* The event duly took place on 2 April 2017 photograph at top shows grandson Graham Wright and Councillor Al Garthwaite
Burials at Schneidemühl/Piła
One of the fascinating developments since the launch of the site has been the interest it has created in Piła (formerly Schneidemühl). New material has emerged, 100 years after the events, and much research is going on regarding the Prisoner of War Camp and the burials of prisoners who died there.
Of particular note is the research being carried out by Marek Przybylowicz, His story focuses on the Memorial to the British Prisoners of War and you can find out more at http://en.tracesofwar.com/article.asp?id=45675
Marek hopes to persuade the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to permit the return from Poznan of the 18 headstones soldiers who died at Schneidemühl.
The Danish Scheme: The Repatriation of British Prisoners of War through Denmark at the end of the First World War
Dorothy Jones has been researching, with her sister, the repatriation of British former WW1 Prisoners of War via Denmark. Joe Garvey was one such, having been moved from Schneidemühl to Stralsund during 1918, and her website is www.thedanishscheme.co.uk
The first part of her fascinating research (up to the end of WW1) by clicking on While the Kettle Boils Part 1 – http://tiny.cc/35ceby
The second part, which takes the story up to when the vast majority of POWs have left Stralsund and deals with the shooting of a POW, is now also available at https://tinyurl.com/y82aqq34
It is an impressive collation of different source material and Dorothy described the process when she was putting it all together, “I have collected a good deal of information from Kew and Copenhagen and ‘have’ a number of diaries, letters etc. all written by officers. I made a list of names of the orderlies at Dänholm who had been taken prisoner in 1914 to see if I could find anything on any of them. Joseph Garvey was the first name on my list so imagine how pleased I was to find your website. And even more so to read the book, Joe’s memoirs.”
Also well worth reading on the site is her article A bread parcel for Private Barnes http://tinyurl.com/qddwz3x which gives a fascinating insight into how bread reached the prisoners and how important it was to their well-being and survival.
Fight the Good Fight – Voices of Faith from the First World War by John Broom
Published in autumn 2015 by Pen & Sword and available from them or elsewhere via the internet, John Broom’s book demonstrates the variety of ways that Christians of all denominations interpreted their faith – as combatants, as POWs, as women on the home front, as conscientious objectors and as army chaplains.
Joseph Garvey, along with other ordinary soldiers, is featured as well as such well-known Christians as Noel Chevasse double VC, Nurse Edith Cavell and Sergeant Alvin York.
There were three main types of soldier among the rank and file of the armies involved in WW1. There were the regular soldiers who were well-trained professionals. These were men who had spent months or even years training before being seen as ready, if called upon, for action. Many trained soldiers joined an army reserve that could be called up at short notice.
At the start of the Great War, few thought it would last into 1915. Once the fluid or mobile phase had given way to the static war and death tolls had risen alarmingly, it became obvious that many more men would be needed. Volunteers and, increasingly, conscripts were called upon. There has been much debate about the changing nature of warfare and the expectations that could be placed on these soldiers and the amount of training necessary to be involved in trench warfare.
What is for certain is that a huge number of soldiers on both sides suffered tremendous privations and their involvement had a massive impact not only on European society but throughout the world.
As an example of the ordinary soldier’s voice, these are the memoirs of Joseph Garvey, enlisted to the Scots Guards in 1907 and recalled at the outbreak of World War One. A veteran of the Battle of Marne, the Battle of the Aisne and the First Battle of Ypres, he was captured by the Germans and spent four years as a prisoner of war in modern day Poland.
The curved ceiling of the Menin Gate Memorial with the rebuilt town in the distance.
A detail of Panel 11 of the Memorial with Joe’s friend Fellowes among those without a grave.
Army map of 1st Ypres 29th October, 1914 – source, copy in the 'In Flanders Fields Museum', with permission. Where Joseph Garvey was captured is circled.