September 2018
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Kin and Kindling

Posted By on September 23, 2018

Poppy cross at St. George's Memorial Church, Ieper (Ypres), Belgium. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Poppy cross at St. George’s Memorial Church, Ieper (Ypres), Belgium.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

…each day

It’s about loss…a familiar theme to the tracks of war…along the fields, the woods, the towns. Too many memorials…nearly one per town…too many headstones…row on row… too many lives…so many /so few memories. Rust, blood and petals.

Repeatedly I remind myself that my visits to this peace were once the chaos of another’s every day. I walk alongside the landscapes once familiar to ancestors. They are gone now…the soldiers – their mothers, their fathers, from either side of many languages.

And though I will remember each day these paths of kin and kindling I understand that this generation, I speak, has provided notes to my letters to my words. I can never repay them other than to continue walking this crimson ground to find their souls, their place, their peace.

Rest now dear brother, dear sister…each day.

—————0—————

…and because loss means something different to each of us…

51st (Highland) Division Memorial (1924)

Posted By on September 3, 2018

The 51st (Highland) Division Memorial near Y Ravine. (P. Ferguson image August 2018)

The 51st (Highland) Division Memorial near Y Ravine.
(P. Ferguson image, 9 August 2018)

Friends are good on the day of battle

Located near to Y Ravine, within the present day Newfoundland Park, the 51st Division Memorial commemorates their success during the Battle of the Ancre 13 November 1916. The memorial project was aided by the good work of  Lieutenant Colonel Nangle, the former Roman Catholic padre of the Newfoundland Regiment. Nangle was instrumental in the creation of the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial and when issues arose to site the 51st Memorial, due to poor ground, Nangle offered a position where the memorial would overlook the forked gully of Y Ravine, facing east towards the village of Beaumont-Hamel.

Approaching the 51st (Highland) Division Memorial near Y Ravine. (P. Ferguson image August 2018)

Approaching the 51st (Highland) Division Memorial near Y Ravine.
(P. Ferguson image, 9 August 2018)

George Henry Paulin was chosen as the memorial’s sculptor and the model for the statue was Company Sergeant Major Bob Rowan of the Glasgow Highlanders. However, for the face of the statue, Paulin chose to use that of his brother Charles Paulin. The statue was placed atop a pyramid of Rubislaw granite that came from Garden & Company of Aberdeen, Scotland.

The Gaelic inscription on the 51st Memorial, "La a 'Blair s'math n Cairdean (Friends are good on the day of battle)."

The Gaelic inscription on the 51st Memorial, LA A’ BHLAIR S MATH NA CAIRDEAN (Friends are good on the day of battle).
(P. Ferguson image, 9 August 2018)

Unveiled on 28 September 1924 by Ferdinand Foch the former Allied Supreme Commander, the memorial was dedicated by a Reverend Sinclair who served as a Chaplain within the Division.  During the dedication Flowers of the Forest was played by the pipers of the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Individuals Mentioned:

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Matthew Mary Nangle was ordained in 1913 and served throughout the Great War with the Newfoundland Regiment. In 1917 Nangle returned to St. John’s, Newfoundland where he delivered lectures about his experiences on the front-lines, whilst encouraging others to enlist. After the war Nangle was chosen Director of War Graves, Registration, Enquiries and Memorials and was Newfoundland’s representative to the Imperial War Graves Commission, London. In 1926 Nangle left the priesthood and emigrate to Rhodesia where he married and became a farmer and politician. Nangle died in 1972.

George Henry Paulin attended the Edinburgh College of Art and received his Diploma in Sculpture in 1912. He later attended L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and the spent four years in Florence at his own studio. Trooper Paulin served during the Great War with the Lothians and Border Horse but was discharged after being trampled by a horse. Captain Paulin next enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps serving as an Observer and subsequently joined the Royal Naval Air Service in January 1918. Paulin was often employed with Military Intelligence. Following the war Paulin established a Glasgow studio, later moving to London. During the Second World War Paulin attempted to rejoin the services but was rejected. Undeterred, Paulin served the war effort working in precision engineering at a munitions factory and subsequently joined a camouflage section. Paulin’s London studio was destroyed during the Blitz. He died in 1972.

Company Sergeant Bob Rowan was probably awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal during the Great War. It is interesting to note that Rowan’s unit was not part of the 51st Highland Division.

Charles Ross Paulin was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Indian Reserve. He died in Lucknow, India 18 February, 1916 and is commemorated on the Dollar Academy Memorial, Kirkcudbright, Scotland. His death is not recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Ferdinand Jean Marie Foch was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies 26 March 1918. On 11 November 1918 Foch accepted a request from German forces for an armistice. Afterwards Foch advocated for terms that would make Germany unable to pose a threat to France ever again. Foch believed the terms of the Treat of Versailles, signed 28 June 1919, were too lenient on Germany. Foch’s prophetic remark, This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.

Reverend P. Sinclair DSO served with the 51st Highland Division attached to the artillery and frequently with various field ambulances. Sinclair, who was once wounded, was taken prisoner of war during the March offensive when he was captured at Doigines, 21 March 1918. His final rank was Colonel.

Link to the Great War units of the 51st (Highland) Division.

…and now we have been

Posted By on August 19, 2018

Woolen poppy upon the Menin Gate Memorial.

Woollen poppy upon the Menin Gate Memorial.
British Legion Great Pilgrimage 1928-2018.
(P. Ferguson image, 8 August 2018)

Thread Fourteen

…and now we have been…and we have returned.

The landscapes of France and Flanders…London…have offered of themselves…their connections to us. We have rediscovered, found, observed and, above all, we have become connected. In finding the threads between the thimbles and needles we have bore witness the fabric of history…perhaps patchwork…but ours for all time.

There will be more visits, more patches to find. Some pieces will be easy paths of discovery – the information presented to us, others will only be revealed through our searching. In assembling these pieces each stitch becomes our own. The global quilt of history is there for all to see, but it is for you to discover how it is made.

…and now we have been… Words not lost upon us. We are well, we are safe, we are not hurt. Unlike so much of what we study…we have returned.

—–END OF SPOOL—–

Sound, light, colour…history

Posted By on August 17, 2018

Thread Thirteen

The Guards Chapel, London was hit by a V-1 rocket in 1944. (P. Ferguson image, August 1944)

The Guards Chapel, London was hit by a V-1 rocket in 1944.
(P. Ferguson image, August 1944)

From Buckingham Palace Road we turn onto Birdcage Walk, bypassing the tourists who have lined up along the gates to view the Guards. Instead of joining the onlookers we choose instead to visit the Guards Chapel, badly damaged by a V-1 rocket attack in 1944.

Candlelight within a blue vase at the Guards Chapel, London. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Candlelight within a blue vase at the Guards Chapel, London.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Smaller Chapels to the Guards Regiments line the one wall and two candlelights glow within blue vases informing us that a particular Guards Regiment is on active duty…a reminder that there is conflict somewhere in this world  that has taken these lads from home.

A black recycling bin blocking the view of a historical marker. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

A black recycling bin blocking the view of a historical marker.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

A brisk walk across St. James’s Park follows and we then change course and head towards Piccadilly. All the while I search for a chance to find something new. This day is unusual, as we find the end words of a message on a wall about a garden commemorating a site hit by the destruction of an attack during the Blitz. I stand looking upon this part message and choose to move the large black plastic recycle bin blocking the view out of the way. In an instant all is revealed…we have discovered something new at a site I have walked by so many times.

The bin set aside reveals the marker’s lettering informing those who pass by what this site has endured. The bin was returned to its position. (P. Ferguson, August 2018)

The bin set aside reveals the marker’s lettering informing those who pass by what this site has endured. The bin was returned to its position.
(P. Ferguson, August 2018)

A few short steps later we walk amongst the vendors at Piccadilly Market. From leather belts, vinyl recordings, souvenirs to oragami (one will feel there should be peace cranes here), and then open our eyes to Christopher Wren’s church, St. James’s Church, Piccadilly.

St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, London. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, London.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

A sign tells us that this site was also hit in the Blitz and badly damaged. Within the church we find three Great War Memorials, as the notes from a fine piano sail through the building. The pianist keeps this journey’s soundtrack in motion. The dance across the keyboard, is thoughtful – classical – perfect…as movement after movement…leads us on our live documentary.

Light, colour and sound at St. James’s Church, London. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Light, colour and sound at St. James’s Church, London.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

All here today listen, the tourist, the resident, the unfortunate as the light passing through the coloured glass adds accent to the notes that rise and fall. We stand within the church’s history…a people’s history…as the pallete changes with the sun’s movement and notes fade away to sleep…

——-SNIP——-

The Dust of Each Conflict

Posted By on August 16, 2018

The Imperial War Museum, Lambeth North, London., is the repository of collections that were first gathered during the Great War. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

The Imperial War Museum, Lambeth North, London is the repository of collections that were first gathered during the Great War.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Thread Twelve

The heat wave has relented and for much of the day we venture forward in the downpour. Rain-water bounces off the taut umbrella towards me managing to find those points at the neckline where it can scurry its chill down one’s back. Meanwhile, I attempt to skirt the roaring streams that run along the curbs in search of drains that attempt to gulp the waves as they come towards them. The drains and my improvised two-step are not successful.

Still one ought not to complain, soldiers and civilians endured much worse on active service and on the home front. Finding an overhang I stand beneath hoping there may be an ebb to this tide, but not this tide. I carry on.

The effects of chemical warfare are illustrated at the Imperial War Muaeum with this shrivelled glove having gone through such an attack. Damage to lungs, eyes and skin was horrific. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Evidence of chemical warfare are illustrated at the Imperial War Muaeum with this shrivelled glove having gone through such an attack. Damage to lungs, eyes and skin was horrific.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Arriving at the Imperial War Museum I seek out a few specific exhibits to snap, and then conduct a reconnaissance of the gift shops anticipating a volume or two to rest amongst others in a tall stack of reading to do. Though centennary titles continue to abound, we are starting to see interest in the immediate aftermath of this conflict that gave birth to the world as we know it today.

A well fired upon Great War sign, “Do Not Stand About Here”. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

A well fired upon Great War sign, “Do Not Stand About Here”. Imperial War Museum Collection.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

Treaties, nations, political parties, demobilization, employment, veterans’ welfare, rehabilitation, prosthetics, mental health, families widows, memorialization and more. The Great War may have an end date with the armistice, 11 November 1918, but its after affects will continue…and then there will be another conflict…a Second World War with its own ramifications, its own openings and conclusions, but the dust of each conflict will never truly settle for years to come.

A Great War soldier making his way through the wet and person clinging mud of the trenches. Imperial War Museum trench scene. (P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

A Great War soldier making his way through the wet and person clinging mud of the trenches. Imperial War Museum trench scene.
(P. Ferguson image, August 2018)

——-SNIP——-