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Archive for January, 2009


Talbot House in Poperinghe was a place for soldiers of all ranks to relax and seek spiritual comfort.Unfortunately a shell hit the side of the building fatally wounding Gilbert Pegg.He was the only soldier killed in Talbot House during the entire war.He is buried in Poperinghe New Military Cemetery.

 

Sgt GJM Pegg,Poperinghe New Military Cemetery

Sgt GJM Pegg,Poperinghe New Military Cemetery

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Guardsman John Hutchinson of Edinburgh died of wounds and is buried in Poperinghe New Miltary Cemetery.

 

Pte John Hutchinson,Poperinghe New Military Cemetery

Guardsman John Hutchinson,Poperinghe New Military Cemetery

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When people think of Military policemen during the Great War they are normally associated with injustice,punishment and cushy jobs behind the lines.The reality was very different.They often had jobs every bit as dangerous as the infantry.There is instance of an MP standing at the Menin Gate  instructing personnel to don their gas masks.They also directed traffic at road junctions which were often targeted by the Germans.

LCpl Oliver Haines was killed by long-ranger shellfire near Poperinghe.He lies in Poperinghe New Military Cemetery.

 

LCpl OC Haines,Poperinghe New Military Cemetery

LCpl OC Haines,Poperinghe New Military Cemetery

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While the British Army was going through the worst day of its history just north of the River Somme casualties were still being sustained in the Ypres Salient.

Diversionary attacks were undertook in the Salient to divert German attention from the operations further south but these only served to warn the Germans that an attack was likely.

60 fatal casualties were sustained in the Salient that day compared to the near 20,000 on The Somme.Among them was Guy Crawford-Wood who was killed while bringing supplies of barbed wire to consolidate forward posittions.He was the only Guards Division officer killed on that fateful day.Guy Crawford-Wood is buried in Brandhoek Military Cemetry.

 

2Lt G Crawford-Wood,Brandhoek Military Cemetery

2Lt G Crawford-Wood,Brandhoek Military Cemetery

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I noticed in Poperinghe New Cemetery several graves with Chinese inscription.These were men of the Chinese Labour Corps and below is reproduced from “The Long,Long Trail” website a brief note on their history and background.

“With the shortage of manpower for labouring work continuing, Sir Douglas Haig requested an increase in the force of an additional 21,000 men. This demand was filled by importing men from China (where the British followed a French lead and signed an agreement with the Chinese for a supply of men), India, South Africa, Egypt and other places within the British Empire. Demand continued and by the wars end a total of approximately 300,000 such workers had been engaged, of which 193,500 were in France and Flanders. By the end of 1917 there were 50,000 Chinese workers in France, rising to 96,000 by August 1918 (with another 30,000 working for the French).”

 

I am glad to include one of these unsung heroes on this blog and hopefully make other people aware of them and their hard,unglamorous work.

 

A Good Reputation Endures Forever,Poperinghe New Miltary Cemetery

A Good Reputation Endures Forever,Poperinghe New Miltary Cemetery

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While researching at Poperinghe New Military cemetery I noticed comments entered in the Graves Register.These were about soldiers who had been executed for offences considered “capital” in The Army at that time.

One such soldier was Pte J Bennett of the Hampshire Regt.He was only 19 and one can only imagine his fear.It is well documented that campaigns have been organised to see the over 300 executed men fully pardoned but that is a discussion for another day.

I felt deeply for boys such as Pte Bennett and was glad to see that they were buried alongside soldiers with no segregation or suggestion that the executed men had been “hidden away”.

 

Pte J Bennett,Poperinghe New Military Cemetery,SHOT AT DAWN

Pte J Bennett,Poperinghe New Military Cemetery,SHOT AT DAWN

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Machine-gunners,bombers and snipers from the 1st Gordons supported the 4th Middlesex Regt in an attack on Hooge after a mine had been blown under the German positions.9 men killed and 34 wounded,among them Thomas Erskine, “a very gallant and capable officer”, who had been awarded the Military Cross only 8 days earlier.Lt Erskine is listed as “Lt Thomas Barne Erskine” on page 191 of  “At The Going Down Of The Sun” however I am 100% sure this is a mistake as can be seen by his headstone below.He is buried in Brandhoek Military Cemetery. 

 

 

Lt Thomas Barne Erskine MC, Brandhoek Military Cemetery

Lt Thomas Barrie Erskine MC, Brandhoek Military Cemetery

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