August 2018
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Paddington: A soldier and a bear

Posted By on August 14, 2018

Paddington Station’s soldier statue on Platform 1. Sculpture by Charles Sargeant Jagger MC. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018).

Paddington Station’s soldier statue on Platform 1. Sculpture by Charles Sargeant Jagger MC.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018).

Thread Ten

From London Victoria we walk to Paddington Station, to visit a well known bear and to revisit with a soldier statue. The latter created by Charles Sargeant Jagger MC as the Great Western Railway War Memorial. Jagger was an experienced Great War officer with the Worcestershire Regiment and was wounded on three occasions and awarded the Military Cross.

The soldier statue stands on Platform 1 alongside a wall within Paddington Station, with a letter in his hands. He is reading. This statue was the subject of a recent and most successful letter campaign with 21,439 letters written about and inspired by this work in bronze. The soldier continues to stand, he continues to read. Please look after this soldier.

The Great Western Railway (GWR) War Memorial commemorates 3,312 men and women of the GWR who lost their lives in two world wars. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

The Great Western Railway (GWR) War Memorial commemorates 3,312 men and women of the GWR who lost their lives in two world wars.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Near to the soldier is a bench and a statue of Paddington Bear, a character created by Michael Bond and inspired by World War Two child evacuees. Bond himself survived an air raid in February 1943 when the building he was in collapsed killing 41 and injuring many others. Bond soon applied to the Royal Air Force, aged 17, but subsequently served with the Middlesex Regiment. Paddington’s famous tag reads, Please Look After This Bear.

Statue of Paddington Bear, please look after this bear (and this soldier). Both statues are located on Platform 1, Paddington Station, London. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018).

Statue of Paddington Bear, please look after this bear (and this soldier). Both statues are located on Platform 1, Paddington Station, London.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018).

——-SNIP———

 

 

Beside a Prince and a Private

Posted By on August 13, 2018

Some tools of the trade. Equipment used by headstone engravers of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. CWGC Information Centre, Ypres. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Some tools of the trade. Equipment used by headstone engravers of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. CWGC Information Centre, Ypres.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Thread Nine

The considerable work of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission [CWGC] is evident across the globe. I have visited their work at many sites in Canada and North West Europe, Malta, and Turkey.

Headstones and memorials require continual maintenance and often I have been delighted to see their work in progress as gardeners and stone masons tend the myriad of plantings and built landscapes carefully thought out to preserve these places of commemoration.

Apart from gardeners and masons, there are landscapers, painters, metal workers, tree surgeons, and other tradesmen, as well as a large number of staff who maintain the records of these souls who reside in their care. Together their work is seen as one…a fine standard to uphold and cherish by those of us who visit perhaps once in their lifetime or for some of us – on several occasions.

Not all that long ago a CWGC information centre was opened near to Menin Gate. Here CWGC staff assist visitors in trying to find their family’s loved ones and ancestors. One only has to visit these places of commemoration to see evidence of those who have taken steps to reconnect their Great War to themselves. It is family, it is a shared heritage…family…community…region…nation.

In Ypres, this August 2018, we walked from Ypres Reservoir Cemetery to Ypres Town Cemetery…the Menin Gate Memorial…to Woods Military Cemetery. We have stood beside a Prince and a Private, read messages from across this globe and stopped to look a little closer. Long may it continue that we are able to share our interests with our readers thanks to the vision of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

——-SNIP——-

 

The Colour of Peace

Posted By on August 12, 2018

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, from Fantasia, near to the Cloth Hall, Ypres (Ieper). (P. Ferguson image, Australia 2018)

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, from Fantasia, near to the Cloth Hall, Ypres (Ieper).
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Thread Eight

Despite those of us who have been drawn to Ypres because of the Great War there are other colours to this town. It is alive and filled with the voices of today and hopes for the future. Ypres – Ieper is filled with community – its own community – its own people. There is colour here – a kaleidescope of vibrancy with fine shops and dining on the square and the in-between places to discover just around each corner.

Some are surprised to see that the Menin Gate Memorial is within the city, a short walk from the square where traffic is stopped for every evening’s Last Post by the buglers of the Fire Brigade. Since the 2018 Great Pilgrimage has returned home, a fair, midway, carnival has occupied the square offering all the rides and games that children and families enjoy. Guns crack at targets whilst bumper cars bounce into each other as glees of laughter rise up from the occupants. Plush toys are gathered by children as the sounds of music and bistros mix together.

And then there is myself finding joy in the happiness of families. I smile gently with this peace…but as always am on the watch for one more reminder of whence this peace came. It is then that I find myself with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice near to the Cloth Hall…we can only imagine what this town has endured…once the black and white world of conflict…now filled with the colour of peace.

—–SNIP—–

Mrs. Kate Palmer’s Walk

Posted By on August 11, 2018

Standing in the footsteps of Kate Palmer. At her son’s grave, Woods Cemetery. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Standing in the footsteps of Kate Palmer. At her son’s grave, Private Roy Palmer, Woods Military Cemetery, Belgium.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Thread Seven

1922 – Kate Palmer of Victoria, B.C. journeyed to Belgium to visit her son’s grave at Woods Military Cemetery, south of Ypres.

Today, 11 August 2018, we retrace Mrs. Palmer’s path and decide to walk from Ypres to the grave-site of Roy Palmer, located some five miles south of the city. It is a wooded area and a place I have visited before. Mrs. Palmer’s journey came to me when recently researching through the pages of Victoria’s Daily Colonist newspaper, “widow of Deputy-Chief of Police returns from Ypres, where she visited her son’s grave, which she found well cared for by Belgians…Woods Military Cemetery, Zillebeke, killed in action at Sanctuary Wood Jun 3, 1916.” (Daily Colonist, 1922-09-03, p.5)

As we find our way I re-visit a demarcation stone that I regularly photograph, and also return to both Spoilbank and Chester Farm Cemeteries. Nearby, horses tug at the grass across the road from a farmer’s field where, over the years, the fragments of war routinely appear. They are part of the crimson that lies and grows here – iron and poppies.

As I approach Roy Palmer’s grave I can only wonder of Mrs. Kate Palmer’s footsteps. Could she hear her own heartbeat? Was she alone? How did she get here and from where exactly did she come from? Have I passed by her place of stay in Ypres and, as I stand before the marker, have her tears graced this soil? I am here today standing within her footsteps, the moment is not lost upon me. Across the fields the towers of Ypres rise above the horizon.

I remain a while, standing alongside the graves of seven other members of the 8th Battalion CEF (Roy’s comrades), knowing too that another message, from Kate, appeared in the Daily Colonist, “In ever loving memory of Roy, eldest and dearly beloved son of Kate and late Thomas Palmer, Deputy Chief of Police, KIA Jun 3, 1916 at Ypres, also all his dear comrades.” (Daily Colonist 1923-06-03)

Side by Side

881 Sgt. J. Nicholas (3 June 1916)

622680 Pte. R.W. Reynolds (2 June 1916)

A/22682 Pte. P.M. Stevens (3 June 1916)

150128 Pte. T. Jackson (3 June 1916)

150093 Pte. E.F. Gower (2 June 1916)

17269 Pte. R. Palmer (3 June 1916)

A/22772 Pte. F.W. Ridley (4 June 1916)

460813 Lt. A.J. Hill (4 June 1916)

Side by side...comrades of Roy Palmer lie together at Woods Cemetery. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Side by side…comrades of Roy Palmer lie together at Woods Military  Cemetery. Plus one other from an English regiment.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Published on the square, Ieper (Ypres), 11 August 2018

——SNIP——-

Upon the Ramparts

Posted By on August 10, 2018

A non-denominational remembrance upon the ramparts near to the Menin Gate Memorial. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

A non-denominational remembrance upon the ramparts near to the Menin Gate Memorial.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Thread Six

Each day is a search. Wandering, watching and wondering, with each step, what will appear before us. Some days the image stands out from our first encounter, lingers for the day unless its place is taken by the next special encounter.

Words come occassionally at awkward times necessitating notes in an archaic script to be interpreted later. Some days it is a search amongst the frames to find the day’s visual as words turn to fumbles.

…and there it sat upon the rampart, left by someone who chose this place here by the stone, above the canal, towards the Kiplinglaan. Contrasted against the stone and living world of greens and blues, its plain form with red remembrance. What care someone took to choose this place…meaningful to themselves and for all who pass by…wandering, watching, wondering…searching.

——-SNIP——-