Jump to content
Great War Forum

Remembered Today:

SRD

Mere Military Funeral

Recommended Posts

SRD

The local FB site for Mere in Wiltshire has recently had the following photo posted. It shows what looks like a Military Funeral passing through the Square. Has anyone any ideas about it, who it might have been, when it might have been, or any other info that might be relevant.

Thanks

 

Mere military funeral.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jay dubaya

I note there are 6 CWGC burials in Mere Cemetery. Most of the visible cap badges appear to be artillery not surprising with a gun limber present, I also see a nurse by the doorway middle right, so an interesting pluck of a name from the list is Pte Thompson, 10th Glosters, died on 9th December 1914 at VAD Hospital, Mere, WIlts and the first military funeral through the streets of Mere?

 

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Michelle Young

If it was the 10th Glosters man, I'd expect to see men in Kitchener Blues or civilian clothing even. The 10th were at Codford I'm late autumn early winter 1914.

 

Michelle 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SRD

If it's relevant there was a shooting range at Mere during the War and church buildings were converted into a hospital.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Jools mckenna

Could it be Dvr Messager's procession? He's the only man from the Artillery from the 6.

Edited by Jools mckenna

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SRD

Thanks all, I see one of the dead is listed as the Regiment being ALIAS, can anyone enlighten me as to what that stood for?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IPT

Can anyone say why no-one is wearing a belt?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
clive_hughes

IPT,

Just a guess, but waist belts weren't usual for "mounted" troops.  That covers not just the cavalry, but artillerymen, ASC, and so on.  One of the troops lining the route on the right clearly has spurs on, which emphasises this.  Also the breeches worn (rather than non-mounted trousers) are also visible on the lead man on the left pulling the limber.  

 

Clive

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IPT

Thanks, Clive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PRC
9 hours ago, Michelle Young said:

If it was the 10th Glosters man, I'd expect to see men in Kitchener Blues or civilian clothing even. The 10th were at Codford I'm late autumn early winter 1914.

 

Michelle 

 

Transcribing wartime funeral reports from the local press in Norfolk it's quite clear that funeral parties were drawn from locally stationed units rather than the unit the man was serving with and that limbers would similarly be provided regardless of the arm served in. There would normally be a small representative group from the unit if they were in the UK, or the regiment if not. Typically for a Private that seems to be a subaltern or senior NCO plus two to three privates.

 

Of course if a man died from a locally based unit and was buried locally there would be a more direct connection, but it shouldn't be assumed there is any direct link between the soldier who died and the unit(s) visible on the picture.

 

Similarly you can't assume that this was a serving soldier who died and thus is one of the Mere Cemetery CWGC graves on their public database. I've come across instances of retired senior soldiers \ veterans of the Crimea campaign, VC & DCM winners from previous conflicts and even the benefactoress of a VAD Hospital who all received a "full military funeral".

 

Cheers,

Peter

Edited by PRC
Typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SRD

Thanks, that's thrown it all up in the air again, I suppose we could look at the church records for those individuals to at least rule them out.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
IPT

I can’t see anything in the newspaper archive, but this simply must have been covered in the local paper.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PRC
47 minutes ago, SRD said:

Thanks, that's thrown it all up in the air again, I suppose we could look at the church records for those individuals to at least rule them out.

 

 

I would suggest the local newspapers, starting with those for the periods of the funerals of the six. There may well be pictures of the procession that might rule them in or out. They might also give an idea as to when this picture would have been taken - with the blackout regulations in place from late 1915 onwards following the first Zeppelin raids, would that street lamp have been left uncovered for example.

 

Cheers,

Peter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PRC

Am I correct that the building on the right, beside which the horse and trap are standing, is the side of the Mere Clocktower?

 

If so, then orientating from that and looking at various pictures of the area over the years, including Google Streetviews from 2011(see attached), then looks very much like all the trees on view were deciduous.

Given their state I would say the picture was taken between late autumn and early spring.

 

Here’s the trees around the Clocktower in February (2014).

12258004523_901453df38.jpgMere: War Memorial (Wiltshire) by Michael Day, on Flickr

 

CWGC actually has seven first world war records in Mere Cemetery but two are for the same man, showing his real name and alias.

 

 Assuming the funerals took place no later than 10 days after date of death then:-

 

Late autumn 1914 \ early spring 1915.

09/12/1914 Private 13415 J Thompson 10th Bn Gloucestershire Regiment.

 

Late spring 1915 \ early autumn 1915.

11/06/1915 Driver 8357 G Messenger, 18th Divisional Ammunition Column, R.F.A.

 

Late autumn 1915 \ early spring 1916.

None.

 

Late spring 1916 \ early autumn 1917.

None.

 

Late autumn 1917 \ early spring 1918.

None.

 

Late spring 1918 \ early autumn 1918.

18/05/1918 Serjeant 205642 H J Newman Depot, Tank Corps.

02/07/1918 Private 266824 Horace Ralph Webb, 7th Battalion, Queens Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)

 

Late autumn 1918 \ early spring 1919.

16/10/1918 Able Seaman J/27020 A Norris, H.M.S. Ursa.

 

Late spring 1920 \ early autumn 1920.

26/06/1920 Private 516031 James Edward Chalk, served as James McKinnon, Canadian Army Veterinary Corps.

 

Based on my interpretation of the state of the trees and the number of military aged men who appear to be in the crowd, then for me the prime candidate has to be Private Thompson, the 10th Glosters man. That of couse assumes none of the other possible criteria for a military funeral don't apply and also that they weren't simply taking the coffin to the train station for transport to the home town.

 

Hope that helps,

Peter

 

Mere The Square 2011 sourced Google Streetviews.png

Edited by PRC
Add Google Streetview screen capture and typo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SRD

That is indeed Mere town centre and your suppositions regarding the time of year are probably correct, especially looking at much of the clothing being worn. Reading about the blackout it was made universal in 1916 but very much left to the town authorities to implement so it's possible rural Mere felt itself relatively immune to Zeppelin raids.

To be honest I wouldn't know where to start looking for local papers, if there were any, and if records still exist.

If it was Private Thompson I wonder why, if his regiment was based in nearby Codford, how he came to be buried in Mere.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SRD

A further point strikes me, the road they are on is not the direct road to the church or cemetery, that road runs past where the nurse is standing, so the idea that the cortege might only be passing through the town becomes more of a possibility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moonraker
20 minutes ago, SRD said:

...If it was Private Thompson I wonder why, if his regiment was based in nearby Codford, how he came to be buried in Mere.

 

At this early stage in the war, medical services such as VAD hospitals were still being established. There were other large camps close to Codford, it was a very wet winter (postcards show the main flooded main street in Codford) and huts were still being built and the conditions not healthy, so it was possible that local hospitals could not cope with ill soldiers. (Many battalions at Codford went into billets because of the conditions.)

 

In late 1914 the headquarters of the 26th Division  (to which the 10th Gloucestershire belonged) was at "Green hill [House], Sutton Veny" but units were billeted over a wide area; its artillery was at Shaftesbury, Gillingham, Wincanton and Mere; three companies of the 7th Wiltshires were at Marlborough, another at Hungerford. At Mere two local blacksmiths taught some of the soldiers how to cold-shoe horses and the Lecture Hall was turned into a Tipperary Club for the men.

 

Moonraker

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SRD

Thanks. I'm still a little bothered by the size of the cortege, would there really have been such a turn out for a Private especially if they weren't local.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Moonraker
13 hours ago, Michelle Young said:

If it was the 10th Glosters man, I'd expect to see men in Kitchener Blues or civilian clothing even. The 10th were at Codford I'm late autumn early winter 1914.

 

Michelle 

LLT says "moved to Salisbury Plain but by November 1914 was in billets in Cheltenham. Returned to Salisbury Plain in April 1915".  If the dead man were Thomson perhaps he'd been left behind in Wiltshire because he was so ill?

 

Moonraker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PRC
13 hours ago, jay dubaya said:

so an interesting pluck of a name from the list is Pte Thompson, 10th Glosters, died on 9th December 1914 at VAD Hospital, Mere, WIlts

 

According to this the VAD Hospital at Mere was on Church Street.

https://www.wiltshire-opc.org.uk/Items/Mere/Mere - The Grove Building and VAD Hospital 1914-1918.pdf

 

While it's possible the body was taken to a local undertaker, it was just as likely the body was moved from the hospital.

 

Unless he had a highly contagious disease, (unlikely given the funeral parade), the next of kin would have been contacted with a view to were the body was to be buried and within the UK thats where the body would be transported and a simple funeral provided. Of course sometimes the next of kin chose not to have the body returned, and sometimes they could not be contacted or there was none. (It would be good to know who the balance of Private Thompsons' pay went to - given the shortness of service there was probably no war gratuity).

 

If he stayed local then it's likely the camp had an arrangement with the local council for him to be interred.

 

1 hour ago, SRD said:

A further point strikes me, the road they are on is not the direct road to the church or cemetery, that road runs past where the nurse is standing, so the idea that the cortege might only be passing through the town becomes more of a possibility.

 

I don't know Mere so can only go from the map. If the Clock Tower is on their left are they not heading towards Boar Street, where there is a United Reform Church,  and which then becomes Pettridge Lane where St Marys Church is located? The screen shot is from the road Boar Street and the shops in the middle right distance in the 2011 picture seem a very good match for those of the funeral parade.

 

Cheers,

Peter

Mere Military funeral shop crop.jpg

Mere The Square 2011 sourced Google Streetviews shop crop.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ron Clifton

A couple of minor points:

1. Soldiers' coffins were normally borne on a gun carriage, so you cannot assume that the deceased was in the artillery.

 

2. Mention has been made of the absence of belts, bandoliers etc. These items were not strictly part of a man's uniform clothing: they were part of his equipment. A small distinction, but a relevant one in these circumstances.

 

Ron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SRD

Looking at the original picture the clock tower is on the right, in other words on the left of the cortege, so they are moving away from Boar Street and the URC (which can be seen in the background of the more recent photo beyond the tree overhanging in the distance to the left). From the way the cortege is moving and the position of the onlookers it is doubtful if they could have come from Boar Street.

In the more recent photo Church Street runs from the lamp past the black car and vanishes bottom right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SRD
8 minutes ago, Ron Clifton said:

A couple of minor points:

1. Soldiers' coffins were normally borne on a gun carriage, so you cannot assume that the deceased was in the artillery.

 

2. Mention has been made of the absence of belts, bandoliers etc. These items were not strictly part of a man's uniform clothing: they were part of his equipment. A small distinction, but a relevant one in these circumstances.

 

Ron

Thanks, I think point 1 was assumed. Regarding point 2, would troops involved in pulling the gun carriage, and troops attending the parade, be expected to wear full uniform & equipment? I note the leaders of the crews pulling appear to have some kind of shoulder lanyard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...