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Remembered Today:

Battle of the Somme


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Walking in the awful waste of war

July 4 2006, Coventry Evening Telegraph

"To mark the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, we look at the letters of one Coventry soldier, Roland Mountfort.

Lance corporal Mountfort of the 10th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, son of a Coventry bank manager and a former pupil of King Henry VIII School, sent 77 letters describing his time in the British Army between March 1915 and January 1918, including how he was wounded at the Somme.

His battalion had been holding trenches outside the main battle area when Sir Douglas Haig's great offensive was launched on July 1, 1916 - a day when more than 57,000 casualties were suffered, 19,240 of them fatal.

British casualties rose to over 400,000. Among those who died on the Somme were nearly 350 men associated with Coventry."

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The day I was shot in the Somme

July 5 2006, Coventry Evening Telegraph

"LANCE corporal Roland Mountfort of the 10th battalion, Royal Fusiliers, son of a Coventry bank manager and a former pupil of King Henry VIII School, sent 77 letters home describing his time in the army between March 1915 and January 1918, including how he was wounded at the Somme.

Yesterday we told the early days of Roland's story, including the time he first saw the battlefield trenches of the Somme, until he was manning the parapet of a trench near the front, having survived his "first taste of fire in the open".

Here we continue his story."

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War closes in on city

By David McGrory





So many pupils did their bit for Britain and paid a high price for their bravery

Dec 5 2006, Coventry Evening Telegraph

" While carrying out reconnaissance work during the Third Battle of Ypres in 1917, his plane was struck by an artillery shell.

Fortunately, this failed to explode but passed through the plane between Starley and his observer! "

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Legacy of a war hero

Nov 13 2003, Coventry Evening Telegraph

By Samantha Clarke

" In the week when the city remembers fallen war heroes, Coventry Preparatory School has uncovered a wealth of documents relating to the First World War and the school's early history.

The personal archives of the school's founder, the Rev Kenelm Swallow, were found in a box in the attic by current head Nicholas Lovell …

His battalion was largely wiped out in the 1916 battle of the Somme and this made him more determined that boys learn obedience and self discipline to stay out of trouble.

One of the great tragedies of Mr Swallow's life was that some of the boys he founded the school for were killed in war."

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Unfortunately, this article does not identify " His battalion was largely wiped out in the 1916 battle of the Somme ", does anyone know?

"War Memorial Park.

Coventry's largest city park opened in July 1921 as Coventry's tribute to the soldiers from the city that lost their lives during the First World War (1914-1918). Previously the park was little more than a large grassed area that once formed Styvechale common which was part farmland and part woodland. The land was owned by the Lords of Styvechale Manor (the Gregory-Hood family), who sold it to the Council to enable the park to be created. Over the next 20 years various facilities were developed including the War Memorial, which was erected in 1927, and the landscaped gardens and sports areas, which were created in the late 1920's and 1930's….

The War Memorial

The war Memorial was built in 1927 and is around 90 feet high. A competition was set up for a design for the War Memorial, which was won by an architect called Mr Tickner. It is made of Portland stone and was built by John Gray who once lived at Coombe Abbey. Gray was known as a great builder who also built the Courtald's works at Foleshill and a number of housing estates, particularly Wyken and Stoke.

Inside the Memorial is a room called the Chamber of Silence. Every year on Remembrance Sunday, it is open for the public to view the "Roll of the Fallen", books listing all of the Coventry men who were killed in the two World War's and even as recently as the Gulf War."

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Roland Mountfort's story has been researched and published by my friend Chris Holland, who recently succeeded the one and only Terry Reeves as Chairman of the Heart of England Branch of the WFA. The Telegraph articles draw on Chris's work.

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