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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Make friends with your local Cemetery Registrar


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I was at Stockport’s main Cemetery this morning looking for evidence that CWGC has wrongly spelt the name of one of my chaps. I needed some help in finding the grave and popped into the office. The very helpful admin person checked and said “The Registrar has been looking at CWGC burials. He’ll come out and show you where it isâ€. And he did. So off we went to find the grave (which confirms to me that the Commission doe shave his name wrong).

Chap then asks if I’d like to see some of the other graves. And he took me on a tour. By the way, he tells me that next week someone is going from what I assume to be one of the assorted new projects photographing war graves. I think this is a cracker of a grave (not a war grave) :-

Andrejs Auzans was born in Latvia in 1871. He qualified as a surveyor and topographer and, later, as an astronomer, joining the Russian Army’s General Staff in 1905. He served as a topography officer in Estonia, Finland, Manchuria and Tuirkestan, before being appointed as Head of the Observatory in Tashkent in 1911.

In 1916, he joined the Latvian forces with a rank of what I understand to be “General Colonel†(I suspect something is awry in the translation), commanding the 2nd Latvian Brigade at the Battle of Kemeri-Smarde and, the following year, at Tirelis. Later in 1917, he was promoted to be in command of the Russian Army’s Topography Department and was promoted to General.

After WW2, Auzans, his wife and daughter were Displaced Persons and unable to return to Latvia. They settled in Stockport.


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By co-incidence, the grave immediately behind the General’s is that of Sgt John Thomas, VC. Not a native Stopfordian, he settled in the town after WW1. He was awarded his medal whilst serving with 2/5th North Staffordshires. This from Wikipedia……”On 30 November 1917 at Fontaine, France Lance-Corporal Thomas saw the enemy making preparations for a counter-attack so with a comrade and on his own initiative decided to make a close reconnaissance. They went off in full view of the enemy and under heavy fire. His comrade was hit almost immediately, but Lance-Corporal Thomas went on alone and finally reached a building used by the enemy as a night post. He was able to see where their troops were congregating and after staying for an hour, sniping the enemy, returned with information of the utmost value, which enabled plans to be made to meet the counter-attack.”


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