Scars of War – the men behind the graffiti 2

As promised last month here is some more information about the graffiti that inspired the Scars of War project that took place in West Norfolk this autumn.  We are very grateful to Kevin Hitchcock for all the research he has undertaken uncovering the fascinating stories behind the names.  This post is all about one man who left his mark, literally in the tower of King’s Lynn library.

Alexander Edward Lovegrove.

Alex Lovegrove was born in Oxford, the only child of Edward and Matilda. Edward was a Brewer’s agent and by 1901 the family was living in Caversham on the Oxfordshire-Berkshire border. At the age of 14, Alex was already in full-time work as a clerk and photographer for the John Warwick Motor and Cycle works, known for its famous Monarch cycles.

Alex had also found fame, he was an outstanding athlete. His exploits as a member of the Reading Athletics Club were reported in papers across the country at a time when athletics was still strictly amateur and, in an age, when to be famous, you had to be good at something! Continue reading

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Scars of War – the men behind the graffiti 1

As promised last month here is some more information about the graffiti that inspired the Scars of War project that took place in West Norfolk this autumn.  We are very grateful to Kevin Hitchcock for all the research he has undertaken uncovering the fascinating stories behind the names.  This post is all about one man who left his mark, literally in the tower of King’s Lynn library.

Aubrey Cato
Born 1893, died October 1916 Somme.

Aubrey Cato was born in the quiet and picturesque Cotswold region of Oxfordshire. His father was a shepherd, his mother died when he was only a year old, perhaps due to complications caused by child-birth. Before the war he was living in Bampton and working as a farm labourer. Bampton is a small town now famous for being used as a film location for Downton Abbey. They were not a wealthy family and times were difficult for farm workers, but he would’ve been comfortable working with horses, and when war came, Aubrey volunteered to join his county Yeomanry, the Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars (QOOH). He did not join alone, his best friend and near neighbour, William Hudson joined too.

Queen’s Own Oxfordshire Hussars cap badge (image Wikimedia)

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Scars of War reading 8

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018, while most of the research for this  was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum this piece was researched by Dr. B. Blades and we are very grateful to him for allowing us to publish this wonderful story.

The Olympian

In early October 2018, I visited the small village of Havrincourt, in the Pas-de-Calais in Northern France. An area rarely visited – even by modern battle field tourists to the Western Front – unlike the killing fields of the Somme some 20 miles to the south west, and Ypres 50 miles to the north.

Passing through the village, down a muddy track next to Havrincourt Wood, then along a rough grass path, and then in front of me was one of the smaller Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) military cemeteries: Grand Ravine Cemetery. Remote, surrounded by trees and ploughed fields, and disturbingly tranquil, Grand Ravine is beautifully kept, as are all are all of the graveyards, maintained by an army of CWGC gardeners and stonemasons.

Grand Ravine Cemetery

I had come to pay my respects to a man whose life and career I have been researching for nearly two decades. I found the headstone within a few seconds, and stood in silence. I took the all-important image of a memorial to one of the hundreds of thousands of men and women who had been killed in the Great War of 1914-19.

CWGC register for Grand Ravine

 

Before leaving the cemetery, I opened the small metal box containing the Visitors Book and Cemetery Register. The Visitors Book had not been signed for some five weeks. To my amazement, the previous entry referred to the very same man I had come to find, and was signed by a man with an identical surname to his. During the recent school summer holiday, members of the Dines family had travelled from their home in Wales to visit the grave of their great (and great-great) uncle Joseph. Someone they had never known in person, but who was clearly of great importance in this particular family’s sense of who they were and had been. Continue reading

Scars of War reading 7

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018: The research for this piece was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum

The Wounded Soldier

In World War One it is estimated that 2,272,998 British soldiers were wounded. Not including the 16,682 Navy and RFC/RAF. Of that number 64% returned to duty to fight on the front lines.

In King’s Lynn places like the Hanse House were converted into hospitals to cope with the sheer amount of walking wounded returning from the Front.

A group of recovering soldiers at Thorpe St Andrew, Norfolk War Hospital.

One of that vast number of wounded was John Smith Sampher – Private 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment – 203325.

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Scars of War reading 5

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018: The research for this piece was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum

The Nurse

At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the means of transporting the sick and wounded had advanced little since the Boer War some twelve years previous. They were still using horse drawn ambulance wagons and nurses were sent on horseback to tend to the wounded when the ambulance was too slow.

The earliest weeks of the war shattered any illusion this could continue and motorised ambulances quickly replaced the horse drawn wagon across the Western Front. Ambulance drivers like Violet Tillson and Mem Custance were on the front lines of the Western Front helping wounded soldiers at Ypres, The Somme and Verdun.

Field Ambulance Unit soldiers, First World War. This image forms part of the Percy Trett Collection, from the Time and Tide Museum/Picture Norfolk

Perhaps the most famous nurse of the First World War was Edith Cavell. Continue reading

Scars of War reading 4

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018: The research for this piece was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum

The Munitions Worker

King’s Lynn had two main munitions factories during World War 1. To the north His Majesty’s Factory on the Alexandra Dock and Cooper Roller Bearings to the south. Savages had also converted their ironworks for war work in the manufacture of aeroplanes.

King’s Lynn, fabric department staff of Savage’s factory in 1917 – image from Picture Norfolk

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Scars of War reading 3

As promised here as some of the readings/research made in West Norfolk for the Scars of War project in the autumn of 2018: The research for this piece was undertaken by Lindsey Bavin, manager at the True’s Yard Fisherfolk Museum

The Christmas Truce

By December 1914 soldiers on both sides had settled into the routine life of living in the trenches of Northern France. Between battles there would be periods of quiet and trenches were often close enough that the soldiers began to banter and barter for items such as cigarettes.

An old pack of British Woodbine cigarettes, photographed at the Musée Somme 1916 of Albert (Somme), France – image from Wikipedia

One such soldier was Harry Bloom, the son of Charles and Jenny Bloom of 18 Checker Street. At seventeen he Joined the Militia and transferred to the Regular Army in 1906 for service in the Norfolk Regiment. He served in South Africa and India prior to the war. In 1913 he joined the Army Reserve and worked at Cooper Roller Bearings which became a munitions factory during the war. He married a woman called Jeannie and they lived at 11 Edwards Yard off Providence Street.

King’s Lynn, interior of the Cooper Roller Bearings factory. Image from Picture Norfolk

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