August 2022
S M T W T F S
« Jul    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

That Wait Upon the Clouds

Posted By on July 31, 2022

St. George's Memorial Church. (P. Ferguson image, September 2004)

St. George’s Memorial Church.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2004)

St. George’s Memorial Church

It is one of many places to commemorate the Great War. Filled with memorials to soldiers, regiments and associaitons. President Sir John French, Earl of Ypres and the president of The Ypres League led the appeal. The town of Ypres (Ieper) gifted the property and on 24 July 1927 Lord Herbert Plumer laid the foundation stone, the same day that Plumer inaugurated the Menin Gate Memorial.

Foundation Stone, St. George Memorial Church. (P. Ferguson image, April 2007)

Foundation Stone, St. George Memorial Church.
(P. Ferguson image, April 2007)

The church, part of the Church of England commemorates more than 500,000 soldiers from Britain and the Commonwealth who died during the Battles of Ypres. Completed in 1929 the church did not include bells until 2016 when the project became part of the many centenary projects 2014-2018. Having successfully raised funds by September 2017 a set of change-ringing bells were cast by John Taylor & Co., Loughborough and by January 2018 the Ypres Bell Ringing Guild actively began seeking individuals to peal the bells. Eight new bells were installed and they were first heard 10 January 2018 when eight bell-ringers from the United Kingdom played the first campanology.

St. George's Sunday Services plaque. (P. Ferguson image, April 2004)

St. George’s Sunday Services plaque.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2004)

At times I find myself thinking about my first visit to St. George’s. Having spent the previous evening visiting new found friends at the Ariane, where I first met Reverend Ray Jones, St. George’s then chaplain, the evening provided my initial insights into this town that has become friend to a visitor from Canada. The evening was filled with good chatter about his work, the on-goings of the communities of Belgium and the many others who take part in some way to remember the Great War.

This was the start to this knowledge journey that continues to this day. Now some time has passed…last there November 2018…where good fortune allowed myself and others the opportuniy to volunteer with the event oganizing committee. One day I will visit Ypres (Ieper) again, recline and relax at my Ieper (Ypres) boutique hotel and wander to the Ariane for the evening. But, during the in between, I will wander to those many places, the war graves, the memorial, Cloth Hall, Saint Martin’s Cathedral, Saint George’s and others to be with this place and to find those stories that wait upon the clouds for one visitor from Canada.

Interior St. George's Memorial Church. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Interior St. George’s Memorial Church.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

 

British Columbia: First Day of the Somme

Posted By on June 29, 2022

Thiepval Memorial, France. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Thiepval Memorial, France.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

The Darkest of Days

The Battle of the Somme lasted for 141 days ending 18 November 1916. During its time the British Army and associated units of the British Commonwealth, including Canada, suffered some 650,000 casualties…200,000 lost their lives.

It is, however, the first day…1 July 1916 that speaks with the loudest of voices…54,740 British Army casualties…19,240 killed. The Newfoundland Regiment was decimated at Beaumont-Hamel and though the Canadian Expeditionary Force did not take part in this the first day, there were those from British Columbia serving in British Army Regiments that lost their lives…1 July 1916.

Vancouver Island

Robert Alexander Rankine Campbell. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial image)

Robert Alexander Rankine Campbell.
(Canadian Virtual War Memorial image)

Second Lieutenant
Robert Alexander Rankine Campbell
B Company 2nd Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own)
Thiepval Memorial
Son of Robert Lewis and Alice Elizabeth Campbell, Bromley, Kent, England
Joined 10 November 1914
30th Battalion CEF (2nd B.C. Regiment) and later 15th Battalion CEF
Wounded and Missing La Boiselle
Age 23
University student (Toronto) 1914
—————0—————-

Captain
William Francis Henry Pelly
9th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Officer commanding No. 3 Company
Thiepval Memorial
Husband of Rosa Theodora Pelly
Joined 17 September 1914
7th Battalion CEF (1st B.C. Regiment)
Age Unknown
Banker 1914 employed by Dominion Trust Company, Victoria
—————0—————-

Souper Memorial Stained Glass Window. St. Andrew's Church, Cowichan Station, B.C. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial image)

Souper Memorial Stained Glass Window. St. Andrew’s Church, Cowichan Station, B.C.
(Canadian Virtual War Memorial image)

Second Lieutenant
Noel Beaumont Souper
6th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment
Thiepval Memorial
Memorial Stained Glass – St. Andrew’s Anglican, Cowichan Station, BC
Son of Reverend F.A. Souper, Grantchester Meadows, Cambridge, England
Husband of Rosalie Frances Souper nee Norie, London, England (married 1910)
Joined 23 September 1914
16th Battalion CEF (Canadian Scottish)
Age 40
Home at Cowichan Bay
Rancher 1914

St. Andrew's Anglican Church, Cowichan Station, B.C. (P. Ferguson image, September 2018)

St. Andrew’s Anglican Church, Cowichan Station, B.C.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2018)

—————0—————-

Vancouver

Maurice Leslie Adamson. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

Maurice Leslie Adamson.
(Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

Second Lieutenant
Maurice Leslie Adamson
Royal Scots Fusiliers
Thiepval Memorial
Son of Sir Harvey Adamson KCSI and Lady Adamson of Kensington, London
Joined 23 September 1914
7th Battalion CEF (1st B.C. Regiment)
Age 23
Bank of Montreal Clerk 1914
—————0—————-

William Le Shana (Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

William Le Shana
(Canadian Virtual War Memorial)

Private
William Edward Le Shana
Royal Newfoundland Regiment
Beaumont-Hamel (Newfoundland) Memorial
Son of William and Mabel Le Shana
Husband of Jeannette Le Shana Vancouver, BC
Joined 23 December 1914
Age 24
Clerk 1914

Beaumont-Hamel (Newfoundland) Memorial, France. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Beaumont-Hamel (Newfoundland) Memorial, France.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

—————0—————-

Wounded Horse in Stone

Posted By on May 29, 2022

58th (London ) Division Memorial, Chipilly, France. (P. Ferguson image, September 2006)

58th (London ) Division Memorial, Chipilly, France.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2006)

A War Horse Story

In 2006 while on tour with an English friend across the landscapes of the Western Front, we happened upon the horse memorial at Chipilly. Time was of the essence, our host and driver wanted to show us as much as possible, I managed to ask for a quick stop to roll down the car window and take a few images of the fine stone sculpture. Then on to the next site. I look forward to a return to Chipilly. Perhaps a few more minutes more above the few minutes of 2006. The sculpture has stood here since dedicated in 1922. In my mind then…how to write the story of one community’s Great War and one that included a war horse.

The 58th (London) Division) Memorial at Chipilly, France. (P. Ferguson image, September 2006)

The 58th (London) Division) Memorial at Chipilly, France.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2006)

Created by French sculptor Henri Désire Gauquié the memorial depicts a British gunner comforting a wounded horse. Millions of horses were brought into service and several thousands lost their lives. Horses served in many capacities as cavalry and officer mounts, but its role was far more varied than that of a charger. Horses were used to carry the wounded, transport rations, supplies, timber, artillery and ammunition and it is estimated that some 368,000 horses were in service on the Western Front in 1917.  Some 130,000 horses came from Canada.

French sculptor Henri Gauquie. (Wiki image)

French sculptor Henri Gauquie.
(Wiki image)

An army horse faced numerous obstacles and dangers. Apart from shell torn work areas and the constant possibility of shellfire and gunfire, gas took its toll and a horse gas mask was eventually developed. The hurt from barbwire led to many horses becoming caught in its spikes and as they struggled to free themselves their injuries only increased. If managing to successfully dislodge themselves many of these injuries became infected and did not heal and resulting in horses having to be put down.

War Horse at the In Flanders Fields Museum, Ieper, Belgium. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

War Horse at the In Flanders Fields Museum, Ieper, Belgium.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

With peace the large corps of horses were no longer needed and 500,000 returned to their roles as work horses. More then 60,000 were butchered and sold for human consumption. Of those that returned to the farm, one wonders of their triggers on the fields of peace whilst gently grazing or drawing the plough. What might make them bolt…what may have brought them back to peace?

In Chilliwack, British Columbia a shrapnel scarred war horse came to Canada. The horse, a veteran of battles in France was destined for service in North Russia when acquired by Thomas Prentiss Wicks, a returned soldier whose 21-acre farm in Chilliwack  was located on MacDonald Road (Fairfield Island). Wicks was a Great War veteran having enlisted with the 1st Canadian Pioneer Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Subsequently Wicks served with the 60th Company, Canadian Forestry Corps. Wicks acquired his farm in 1919 through the Soldiers Settlement Board and his farm was a feature news story in the Chilliwack Progress, 28 October 1920, page 2.

War Horse puppet on exhibition at the National Army Museum, London. (P. Ferguson image, April 2012)

War Horse puppet on exhibition at the National Army Museum, London.
(P. Ferguson image, April 2012)

In 1982 Michael Morpurgo wrote the novel War Horse, that in 2007 premiered at the Royal National Theatre, London, England. I was fortunate in 2011 to experience this production that includes life-size horse puppets produced by the Handspring Puppet Company. As we sat in the theatre one patron, a lady who had been many times, brought forth a box of hankies…explaining it would be needed and as the production drew to a close…true to her word there were few dry eyes…we had been witness to a heartfelt remembrance one that all assembled related to. It is time to go again.

Some 8 million horses, donkeys and mules lost their lives during the Great War.

Only Remembered, John Tams, War Horse

If I had some words to share…

Posted By on May 28, 2022

Toys...

I would say…sadly once again

Take these spirits from within my soul
and pass them upwards into heaven.

Give; to those that have left us far too soon
and let their hearts shine back upon us.

For their smiles and warmth, the colour and glint of their eyes
warms us all in the spirit of a good life.

Let them continue to be celebrated for
the child and teacher within all of us.

And comfort us with the knowledge that
in our loss they can be our inspiration.

With each tear shed…
a new tomorrow might awaken.

 Previously Published Pipes of War
23-December-2012

I Remember Everything, John Prine

Howitzer of the Somme

Posted By on April 30, 2022

"Mother" the 9.2 inch Howitzer B.L. Mk. 1 at the Imperial War Museum, London. (P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

“Mother” the 9.2 inch Howitzer B.L. Mk. 1 at the Imperial War Museum, London.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

Mother…Film…

It takes a while…the penny drops…the pictures produce the synapses (the passing of messages to communicate). Having returned to 2005 I find my file of images for the 9.2 inch dazzle painted “gun” at the Imperial War Museum. Surely, at the time, I will do something with these? And surely I did…mind 17 years have passed and Mother has been re-situated in the museum. (Reminder AKA note to self: take the 148 bus from London Victoria to IWM). Soon perhaps soon. (There are the new IWM exhibits to visit and appreciate). Back to the current session. Segues…they interject with the passing of self messages to communicate. One must appreciate the sparks…we are firing on all cylinders today. Yet the best of this….our discovery…not so much a finding…the information was always available. Mother is the original prototype gun that can be seen in the Arthur “Geoffrey” Herbert Malin’s and John McDowell’s 1916 film, The Battle of the Somme.

Malins was born in Hastings, Sussex, England and worked as a photographer and subsequently joined the Croydon, England based Clarendon Film Company before working with the Gaumont Film Company in France. With Gaumont, Malins filmed the Belgian army in action during the fall of 1914. His work continued through 1915 when the British War Department chose Malins as an official cameraman…his technology..,. the Aeroscope Camera, a hinged wood box, with cogwheels and chains driven by a self-cranked external handle…its lens focused on the subject at hand…with or without a sturdy tripod.

Geoffrey Malins at St. Eloi with Aeroscope Camera. (Image from How I Filmed the War, 1920)

Geoffrey Malins at St. Eloi with Aeroscope Camera.
(Image from How I Filmed the War, 1920)

The War Department was initially approached in 1915 by the Kinematograph Manufacturers Association about the possibilities of having two official cameramen attached to the British Expeditionary Force. Malins was one choice, Edward Tong of Portsmouth the second. Some of Tong’s film work of which he shot 3,600 feet in all, was incorporated into Britain Prepared (1915). Tong also worked in France but in December 1915 was invalided home and John McDowell of The British and Colonial Film Company joined Malins in his work. By this time, June 1916, Malins had created 26 films, been wounded twice and gassed. Badly shaken by explosions Malins had at one time been deafened. Together, Malins and McDowell filmed in two different locations on the Somme. McDowell was assigned to the 7th Division near Mametz and Malins to the 29th Division at Hawthorn Ridge. After filming the duo returned to London with 8,000 feet of film for processing.

Hawthorn Ridge mine explosion filmed by Geoffrey Malins, 1916.

The 77-minute film was a tremendous success being seen by more than 20,000,000 viewers. Family and friends hoping perhaps to catch a glimpse of those they knew well…or maybe that fellow they passed by every day on the way to the baker or butcher. Just one glimpse they hoped…and so they came. Malins’ work showed the harsh reality of war including the dead…he reflected on the depictions, I really thought that some of the dead scenes would offend the British public. And yet why should they? It is only a very mild touch of what is happening day after day, week after week, on the bloody plains of France and Belgium. (Malins. How I Filmed the War, p. 183). For his wartime film work, Malins was awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire…the citation records, For courage and devotion to duty. Has carried on his work as official photographer in circumstances of great difficulty and danger. (London Gazette, 7 June 1918, page 6897).

Geoffrey Malins filming on the Somme, France. (How I Filmed the War)

Geoffrey Malins filming on the Somme, France.
(How I Filmed the War)

Malins other wartime work included, The German Retreat and the Battle of Arras (1917). By the spring of 1917 Malins had become ill and was required to take sick leave. Returning to the Western Front in January 1918 he remained unwell and was discharged June 1918.  After the war Malins founded the Garrick Film Company (1919-1921). With Garrick, Malins filmed a scene depicting a German air raid on London for the 1919 production Patricia Brent, Spinster. Becoming somewhat of an adventurer after his film company faltered, Malins adventures took him abroad, attempting to fly around the world (ending in India), attempting to motorcycle and sidecar around the world (returned successfully). Malins died in South Africa in 1940.

…and yet there remains our impetus for today…

Mother…so much more than a dusty relic of a bygone age…what can the Great War teach us after all these years? In this instance take heed in all that we have seen…return to it…there is always something that can speak if we choose to hear. Synapes…segues…today we started with the Imperial War Museum’s 9.2in Howitzer and journeyed to the film-makers of the Somme. I have stood at these sites on the France and Flanders where Malins, McDowell and Tong once turned the crank on their moving picture cameras.

Mother remains in static position at the Imperial War Museum…today Mother…has been repainted to its original colour. I have stood before Mother…the engineering…the previous dazzle…now its deep green…and watched others gaze upon the machine…What are they thinking – aged and youth?…and I segue..1977…a novel about a machine…a university study…the spark continues…another day…another day…thanks to one not so dusty, not bygone age but one that continues to speak if we chose to hear it.

Mother in its repainted "original" colour scheme, Imperial War Museum, London, England. (P. Ferguson image, September 2016)

Mother in its repainted “original” colour scheme, Imperial War Museum, London, England.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2016)