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Remembered Today:

West End memorial (Hampshire)


Steven Broomfield
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Like others, I promised Alliekiwi I'd post some photos of West End war memorial. West End is a village, just outside Southampton: although quite small in 1914, it's now almost a suburb.

The memorial has an interesting history - originally, a Parish Council sub-committee was convened to discuss the matter of a memorial and bring forward recommendations. This they did: a memorial cross; a lych gate to the burial ground; or a memorial park on some land offered (free) by a local farmer.

However, a public meeting of residents ended in acrimony, and the Council decided not to play - so no memorial was planned. Outraged, a Colonel Perkins, owner of the Southampton Echo, and who lived in the village, paid for the memorial to be erected outside the burial ground. He did this in grateful memory of the fact that his three sons had all served, and all returned safe. One, indeed, won a DSO (and - a side point: his servant was allegedly the first fatality in the Hampshire Regiment, having fallen out of a train on the way to Mons with the 1st Battalion).

Anyway, the memorial, as you see, is a standard celtic-style cross, with the names of the fallen on a separate plaque; ths was originally in front of the Cross, but was moved to the side after WW2 in order to make room for the WW2 plaque.

There is also a memorial in the local Parish Church (St James'), which has more names than this Cross; the Church has also some quite nice stained glass in the South Aisle.

Finally, the Parish Centre has an illuminated roll of all those who served, with those who fell at the top, and those who returned below. This includes detail of regiment, ship, etc, decorations (several DSOs - two with Bars and CMG), and even indicates those with 1914 Stars or 1914/15 Stars.

I hope you enjoy these pictures, taken at 10.55 this morning.

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And the WW2 names, plus the back of the plinth, with explanation....quite touching!

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Thanks for sharing these photos plus the background information. It's a beautiful monument and I like the layout with the tablets on each side. The poppy wreathes you have in England are just beautiful.

Cheers, Diane

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Lovely memorial, Steven. I do like the celtic cross ones - there is something about the intricate interweaving of the lines that looks timeless. I also like how it's placed on the uneven stones - looks like it's been there for centuries.

I'm with Diane on the poppy wreaths - they look lovely! If I ever make it to France, I think I'm going to have to try and get some wreaths in England before I go. (Can members of the general public do that?)

You aint gonna like the one in my town... will try and take a photo later today.

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Mine is, too. But they've taken out the nice gardens and added a metre high concrete impression of an Anzac Day poppy to the wall at the back. And it looks quite tacky. :unsure:

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I'm with Diane on the poppy wreaths - they look lovely! If I ever make it to France, I think I'm going to have to try and get some wreaths in England before I go. (Can members of the general public do that?)

Sure can - the Royal British Legion can supply them - about £15, or around £20 if you want a badge (fern leaf?) in the middle. IF you ever make it ( ;) ), the best bet would be to make arrangements for someone over here to organise purchase before you come.

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My town's War Memorial is on NZ History Online.

And nice it is, too, Diane. Thanks.

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It doesn't look as bad as I thought it would (I last drove past a few months ago and did a double-take at how terrible it looked), and the new concrete is nice, I suppose.

The fence engraving is of Henderson and the donkey (the chap who took over from Simpson), and there are poppies along the top of the fence mimicking the one on the back of the fence.

Allie

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Hmmmmm. I can see why you did a double-take; personally, I work on the basis that if it ain't broke....

However, I guess it is also nice that people still want to 'improve', so it shows (I suppose) that they care.

Also, the concrete will weather a bit (as you imply), and the trees and plants will attain growth before long. It'll get better...honest.....

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The thing that amazes me is that no-one (that I've heard of in the newspaper etc) has done grafitti (how many f's and t's are there in that word?) on that white expanse of a fence. It's practically begging for it, isn't it?

I can see that the new layout will take less up-keep (unless the fence gets adorned with spraypaint), and will gradually weather and blend more to not stand out as if the area is yelling, 'Look, we've revonated!!' But it's certainly in stark contrast to what it was before.

I like the engraving on the metal fence atthe front, though.

But the ruddy great poppy... that's going to take some time for me to feel any sort of ...affection?

Allie

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And nice it is, too, Diane. Thanks.

Thanks to funding from the Year of the Veteran all our local War Memorials are being cleaned and hopefully the spelling errors rectified. It should look good on Anzac Day next year.

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It doesn't look as bad as I thought it would

Wow! it looks very nice to me. :) I must go passed our War Memorial today to see if a wreath has been laid.

Thanks for posting the pictures Allie.

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With a bit of space at the bottom, "just in case....."

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  • 9 years later...

I am writing from Nova Scotia, Canada. My great uncle, James Wesley Williams, (for whom I am named) is honoured on this memorial. I am trying to find out anything I can about his unit, where he served, this circumstances of his death etc. Do you have any suggestions which could assist my research? I have a vague recollection of my father telling me his uncle served in Mesopotamia.

Thank you.

Jamie Williams

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I am writing from Nova Scotia, Canada. My great uncle, James Wesley Williams, (for whom I am named) is honoured on this memorial. I am trying to find out anything I can about his unit, where he served, this circumstances of his death etc. Do you have any suggestions which could assist my research? I have a vague recollection of my father telling me his uncle served in Mesopotamia.

Thank you.

Jamie Williams

23171 Private Wesley James Williams, 5th Battalion Duke of Edinburgh's (Wiltshire) Regiment, enlisted in Southampton and died in Mesopotamia on 14 November 1916.

CWGC - Casualty Details

In 1911, James Wesley Williams (16) Garden Lad (Domestic) born Fair Oak, Hampshire, was living at The Cottage, West End Lodge, West End near Southampton, with his father James (46) Gardener (Domestic) born Pitton, Wiltshire; mother Mary (43) born Bishopstoke, Hampshire; sister Dorothy (17) Dressmaker (Domestic) born Fair Oak; brother Frederick Cecil (15) Garden Lad (Domestic) born Fair Oak; sister Elsie (10) born Fair Oak; brother Reginald Edwin (8) born Fair Oak; brother Charles Henry (4) born Fair Oak.

Birth registered as James Wesley Williams Jan-Feb-Mar 1895, at Winchester.

5th (Service) Battalion

The Wiltshire Regiment in 1914-1918

JP

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Jamie - all I can add to that is that I believe he died of "malarial fever".

Do you have a photo, by any chance? The friend with whom I compiled a booklet on West End's war memorial is always updating evertyhign, so if there is a picture it would be much appreciated.

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Right, Jamie, took a few seconds to realise you were referring to the original post about the West End War Memorial, not one in New Zealand!

Couldn't quite work out at first how a Wiltshire lad was commemorated in NZ!

Looks as if you could actually have been named Wesley, if the Army had anything to do with it!

There were 3 payments made to his father James from his Soldiers Effects, £5 3 shillings and 7 pence; another 7 shillings and the final payment of £3 Gratuity.

His Medal Roll entry has the correct Names, James Wesley, for his entitlement to the British War and Victory medals, so he wasn't Overseas before 1916.

It would seem that he may have missed Gallipoli and been a reinforcement sent to Egypt in about February 1916 to bring 5th Wilts up to strength before being sent to Mesopotamia.

There is probably a Pal or two here who may have the War Diary covering events up to November 1916 when James died, possibly from illness such as malaria which was pretty rife before modern concepts of control had been developed.

In brief:

In July 1915 the 5th (Service) Battalion set sail for the Dardanelles and by the 17th were all ashore at Cape Helles, on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Two days later they were in the trenches facing the Turkish Army. On the 6th August they took part in a night attack to capture a ridge of hills to assist the British landing at Suvla bay. The following day they took part in the attack at Sari Bair. This was a successful attack, but the response was fast and very violent. They were attacked by a Turkish Division led by Mustapha Kemal. The battalion was overrun with half the battalion never being seen again. The battalion was reorganised, returning to trench warfare with the main enemy being dysentery and jaundice. On the 18th December they embarked for Mudros returning ten days later in a blizzard, here they saw in 1916.
1916
The 5th (Service) Battalion evacuated from Cape Helles in January going to Port Said where they were reinforced with 750 men. In February they went to Kuwait and in March to Amara via the Tigris River. They then relieved the Lahore Division south of Kut. In April they took part in the attempt to relieve Kut and attacked the Turkish Trenches at Hannah, followed by an attack on Sanna-I-Yat. All the efforts to relive Kut failed and eventually the garrison was forced to surrender. (Many men who had been transfered from the 1st and 2nd/4th Regiments in India were captured with units besieged in Kut) May was spent in defensive positions after which they returned to the Amara area where they remained until the end of December when they crossed the Hai River ready to move North to Kut.
Bearing in mind that most battalions were just under 1,000 men, to receive 750 as reinforcements pretty much constitutes the entire fighting strength!
Hopefully you'll get a lot more, but out of curiosity, who in the family went off to Nova Scotia to found your branch!
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James died, possibly from illness such as malaria

You probably crossed posts with Post 19 :thumbsup:

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Hi Jamie,

Welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately, he doesn't appear to have any surviving service papers, nor a will, which might have been able to link the different addresses on the 1911 census and that shown for his parents in the CWGC entry, and "prove" that James Wesley is the same man as the Wesley James that appears in the military documents that forum pals have found. (I have to slightly disagree with Kevin, in that for me the medal roll entry reads "WILLIAMS Wesley James"). Given though that a decade would have past between the census and the CWGC records being finalised, the parents names are the same, the age is correct (i.e. 16 in 1911, and 21 in 1916), and that West End and Shedfield are only about 6 miles apart, I too think that it is most probably the same man.

The medal roll only lists service in an active theatre with 5/Wilts, so he didn't serve abroad with any other battalion.

The size of his war gratuity payment intimates that he had less than 12 months active (eligible) service prior to his death.

Unfortunately, the National Archives haven't digitalised the battalion war diary yet. The regimental museum (the Wardrobe) have transcribed it though, and it can be seen here. If it's like their transcription for 1/Wilts it won't show any appendices, that are contained in the original. They also have a printed version of the diary with some additional documents for sale for £12. They also have a book on the history of the battalion during WW1 for £19..99. It is unlikely that either will mention him by name though.

You should be able to get a copy death certificate from the GRO (£10) using the details below. Hopefully, it may confirm if he died from disease, etc., or from a fatal wounding.

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(Year = 1916. Volume = I.58. Page = 42)

Regards

Chris

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  • 4 weeks later...

Many thanks to all of you who responded. Being new to blogs, I didn't check back - I guess I thought I'd get a notification of a response (which I ultimately did receive, just a month later!)

This information helps explain the mystery. I had found Wesley James Williams's info in the Amara War Cemetery but had concluded it wasn't my uncle due to the name reversal. But what are the odds that someone with the same names also had parents with the same names?! I'm afraid I do not have any photographs or other documentation. In fact, I know very little about my father's family. The only information I had was the West End Memorial having visited there once when I was 10. I was 3 when we moved to Canada and only ever met my paternal grandmother twice as a young child. My father has been dead for 6 years so I am unable to ask him questions. In fact, I'm only just discovering that my great grandfather was James Wesley! Who knew?

My parents emigrated to Canada twice. Once to Montreal in the mid 50's, returning to England in 1962 (long enough for me to be born in England!) and then left again for Ottawa in 1965. I went to The Royal Military College of Canada for university and served 5 years after graduation as a navigator in the RCAF - flying on the Canadian version of the Nimrod - conducting Maritime Patrol/ Anti Submarine Warfare surveillance. The base to which I was posted is in Greenwood, Nova Scotia and I stayed in Nova Scotia when I left the air force.

Again, thank you all for taking the time to help me in my search! Very much appreciated.

Jamie

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